Published: 21:00, 15 October 2015
He rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in music but these days you’ll find Graham Garrett running a restaurant kitchen in Kent. The drummer turned Michelin-starred chef moved from one career to another and is at the top of his game. His first cookbook, Sex & Drugs & Sausage Rolls, is published today.
Me and my Mrs (Jackie) bought the West House in 2002... and I was cooking every service for 12 and a half years, I never missed one. I now have a couple of good boys, Jackie and my son who now runs the restaurant and is out front, so I’m not in there all the time. But I still am a lot.
The book just happened... I shouted my mouth off for years that I would never do a cookbook. I buy loads of cookbooks but I think a lot are all the same. There’s a certain style (I better not mention any names) that’s just a bit flowery and has the same format. But when I met Face Publications, I was able to do my own design and content and they were looking for something different as well. I couldn’t turn it down.
I was very much in denial about all of that (his pop career in the 1970s and 1980s)...but people would always mention it. I was embarrassed about it, with the hair and stuff. But when we started with the book I got this big box of photos from the 1980s and I thought – now I can get it out there myself; come out of the closet if you like. I got quite into it. Eventually the editor had to say to me – that’s it. It’s like a baby though now, it’s part of your life.
I don’t like all those flowery menu things... it’s like the haricot vert with sauce tomate thing – it’s just baked beans. I’ve always written it how it is. It is only food. It has to be eaten. Some people take it a little bit too far.
Cooking was always a hobby, an interest... and I started cooking professionally six or seven days a week in 1992. What I used to do with the music and stuff, everything is centred around the gig in the evening, that’s your energy release. With this, there’s always something that needs doing too. On the prep side there’s making all the breads and butters – we do them all ourselves. There just isn’t enough time in the day. It is a bit like building a performance too if you like. Your energy levels are the same, that’s when it’s exciting.
You shout as a chef when things aren’t going well and everything is driving you mad... but the good stuff outweighs the bad. I used to be terrible when I was in London, I was quite a shouter but when I came down here to Kent with a kitchen with windows that changed.
The first few years I didn’t really see outside the door... chefs are always so miserable because they’re sleep-deprived and stressed! If people just left you alone you’d be fine (he laughs). I did get to a point of shouting at myself in the kitchen. That’s when you realise you’ve got to get yourself in check.
I used to wake up with an idea for a song; now it’s a dish... for years and years I didn’t think of songs at all. But just occasionally now I do wake up humming something and I rack my brains to think where I’ve heard it and then I realise – I haven’t heard it anywhere. I’ve just made it up.
The book also features the work of master potters Alan Parris and Billy Byles, from Aylesford Pottery. They were commissioned by Graham to create some tableware for the West House, which features in the book.
Sex & Drugs & Sausage Rolls is published by Face Publications. It costs £35 in hardback.
For the full feature see this week's What's On in your KM paper.