Heritage: TV Chef Paul Ainsworth and former athlete Iwan Thomas swap Southampton stories

Heritage: TV Chef Paul Ainsworth and former athlete Iwan Thomas swap Southampton stories

Tales about living in Southampton feature heavily during the first episode of a new podcast that involves three high-profile celebrities who are associated with the city.

Former athlete Iwan Thomas and ex-Premier League footballer David Prutton are joined by Paul Ainsworth (pictured top) on Full Chat, a new motorbike show featuring famous names. The chef and TV personality now lives in Cornwall but was born in Southampton and spoke glowingly about learning his trade on the south coast.

“The family business was a guest house in Southampton so I was born into hospitality,” the Southampton City College alumni said.

“It was a five-bedroom B&B, they expanded it to 10 bedrooms in the 1980s. They had cable in all the rooms, they built an outdoor swimming pool in the garden and it was seven days a week. Monday to Friday was contractors, weekends were families because Southampton sort of has that Tudor history so you get quite a lot of visitors coming to Southampton of course with the cruise ships and stuff.

“I did not grow up with fine dining. If the old man took us out for a treat it was to a Beefeater once in a while. It was called Around The World down on the quay and that was a real family treat because Mum and Dad were cooking for the guests every night.

“I’ve only worked for a handful of chefs. There was ‘German’ Pete at The Star Hotel, it was a two-star hotel on Southampton High Street next to The Dolphin. The food was what it was. We were doing toasted sandwiches and all of those sorts of things and he said ‘look you need to go somewhere else’ so I went to work in the New Forest. I was doing college as well and my break for London came from a college lecturer who was godfather to the late, great Gary Rhodes and that was my leg into London.”

Farnborough-born Team GB hero Iwan Thomas, a Saints fan who still lives in the city, said Prutton and “him go way back when he used to play at the mighty Southampton”. ‘Prutts’ played for the club from 2003 to 2007 and his wife Jenny is from Southampton.

The trio joked about a shared love of Fray Bentos pies with the retired 400m runner declaring that they “came out better than when they went in” and it’s what he lived on when “he first moved to Southampton because he couldn’t cook”.

That was never a problem for their Michelen-starred guest who was on the show to share his passion for all things two wheels. The Gordon Ramsay protege revealed he got his kicks riding motorbikes as a youngster on land in Bishop’s Waltham and then as a teenager on the streets of Southampton.

“We were kids, I had two mates on their roller boots hanging onto the back of the bike and we’d just be flat out,” the Great British Menu judge added during his appearance on the podcast.

“There was this real steep hill, Athelstan (Road) hill, and we would go down it flat out. They were brilliant times. It was illegal, you couldn’t take a pillion, but at night you would and you’d hit all the back streets so you wouldn’t go on any main roads so the police wouldn’t see you.”

Thomas joked that “he’d tried running up Athelstan hill a few times” and he was “sure the motorbike went down it a lot quicker than it went up it” because it “was the steepest and most horrible hill in Southampton”.

You will be able to listen to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, YouTube and AudioBoom as well as several other podcast outlets. For more information, click here. 

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