Five minutes with Ian, The Skint Roofer

Finalist on ‘The Great Cookbook Challenge‘ with Jamie Oliver, The Skint Roofer may not have won the series, but his brilliant budget recipes and sense of humour set Twitter and Instagram alight, proving there is a huge appetite for his cooking.

We caught up with Ian to find out what inspired him to cook in the first place, what his favourite budget ingredients are, and what’s next for The Skint Roofer. Check him out on Instagram and Tiktok.

Feature image copyright – Richard Clatworthy 2021.

Five minutes with Ian, The Skint Roofer

What’s your very first memory of food?

Well there were five of us kids, with my mum and dad, so there were seven of us in the family and my mum used to do some blinding meals, on a budget. I’ve got fond memories of her cooking.

What’s the first recipe you properly learned to make?

Chilli con carne. My mum wrote down the recipe for me, this was before mobile phones and that. I moved out of the family home when I was 17-18 and she gave me a few pots and pans and wrote a few recipes down and chilli con carne was one of the first ones I did.

Did you have school dinners or packed lunches growing up? Any fond memories?

We had packed lunches. Money was tight with our big family. But my mum used to pack us up lunches before we’d go to school, we had sandwiches, crisps, nuts, apples and sometimes a chocolate.

What was it like being on the Great Cookbook Challenge with Jamie Oliver? What was your favourite moment?

It was a great experience. It was a rollercoaster, like a dream really, I’m still pinching myself now. I’ve made friends for life in the other contestants. Jamie Oliver himself was a diamond, a top geezer. All the people that were involved: the production, the cameramen, they were all absolutely brilliant and made you feel so welcome. On the first day, I was nervous going in, especially in front of the judges. You’re cooking, and Jamie’s trying to talk to you and you’ve got about 10 different cameras on you while you’re cooking, so you’re out of your comfort zone. You’re used to cooking at home in your own environment with a glass of wine, aren’t you? But as the show went on, the more confident I got and the more relaxed I felt.

Your love of cooking shines through. What prompted you to take your recipes to social media and to apply for the show?

My sister Karen persuaded me to set up an Instagram in 2018. I didn’t even have an account then. And the more I thought about it it made sense. I mean, it’s my hobby so I thought I might as well express myself that way. And I enjoy doing it! I think I’d be lost without my recipes at the moment now. I express myself through my cooking.

"I'd be lost without a roast dinner."

What’s the one recipe you can’t live without?

It’s basically the old classic roast. I mean, it’s mainly chicken or pork, rarely beef or lamb because that’s too expensive. But you know, the Sunday roast. It doesn’t have to be done on a Sunday, either. A roast in general can be had on any day of the week. I’d be lost without a roast dinner.

Do you have a Yorkshire pudding every time?

Only sometimes – you have to devote the whole oven to the Yorkshire, you know. The shop bought ones are good, I’m not gonna lie. I do make them for special occasions and birthdays.

What’s the one ingredient that you’d take to a desert island with you?

It’s gotta be onions or garlic I suppose – can I take two? I couldn’t pick one or the other. They’re a staple in most recipes aren’t they?

You can have a one-off dinner party on your island… who would you invite?

My partner Donna and my kids, they’re my world. And my family, and friends. And I’d invite my close mate who sadly died last August of Covid. He’d have loved me being on the Cookbook Challenge show so it’d be a dream to speak to him about it over a glass of wine and a dinner.

What’s your all-time favourite cookbook?

My mum gave me one – I think she got it off the local milkman, this is how long ago it was… this is when everyone used to get milk delivered to their doors, it’s not like that nowadays. And they used to sell cookbooks as well. I think it was called The Dairy Cookbook and I’ve had that for more than 20 years now. It’s got cheesy recipes but it’s a good all-rounder.

What’s your most prized kitchen tool?

I could do with a new knife. So, a knife sharpener. A blunt knife is a dangerous knife.

What’s been the best meal you’ve had in a restaurant or café recently?

I very rarely go out with the family for meals. 1) It’s too expensive, and 2) with Covid-19 and everything, it’s been difficult. But recently, my brother treated us all to a meal out at Gino’s in Leicester, where they have a proper pizza oven.

Who is your food hero?

It’s got to be my mum.

What are your five favourite budget ingredients to make meals go further?

Store-cupboard ingredients like kidney beans, tinned tomatoes, onions, potatoes and dried pasta would be my picks. You can bulk meals out with those ingredients, it’s about stretching things out and making them go further. These ingredients aren’t going to cost the Earth. Kidney beans can be picked up for 40p a can, and it stretches something like a chilli con carne.

What keeps you awake at night?

I’ve not slept a lot the last few weeks as you can imagine! Genuinely what keeps me up at night is thinking about food and recipes. I write them down before I forget. And then I lay at night worrying about my kids and the missus and the family. Worries are always worse at night.

What’s next for The Skint Roofer?

Well I’ve had a lot of interest through my Instagram, so that’s a positive. I don’t know what’s around the corner. I didn’t win the Cookbook Challenge but one door closes, and another one opens, doesn’t it? I’m hoping I’ve got a bit of a bright future, fingers crossed. I’d like to work on TV, to be fair – if I could do some slots on some cookery programmes, that would be my dream.

Follow Ian on Instagram to keep up to date with all his news.

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