He’s the Doncaster amateur chef who’s had Hollywood A-listers helping him out in the kitchen.
Actor Chris Walker is a familiar face who is well known for a string of television shows including Doctors, The Bill, and Coronation Street.
But away from the screen, he is an accomplished amateur chef, who will be showing his kitchen skills off at the Doncaster Wool Market on Saturday and Sunday, as part of the Doncaster Food Festival, which starts tomorrow.
And the Free Press can reveal how a top Hollywood star stepped in to be his assistant as he whipped up a meal for friends in Namibia.
He said: “I’ve cooked for a fair few celebrities over the years, people like Nick Berry, Denise Welsh, and Stephen Tomkinson.
“But back in 2000, I did a film called The King is Alive. We where shooting it in Namibia, and while we were out there I cooked for the cast. Jennifer Jason Leigh was there, and she was really enthusiastic and helped out as my sous chef. She asked to help, and I cooked up some Tai food for everyone. We cooked for the whole crew. She helped me cooking for 200 people – she was brilliant.”
She is one of a number of big names who had tasted his wares. He fed Jurassic Park star Sam Neill and Charles Dance in South Africa after they had been to watch rugby while filming the mini-series To the Ends of the Earth, and entertained Sir Ian McKellen with a Yorkshire Pudding Party in New York, where they had been in a production of Richard III.
Chris, aged 55, first started to learn to cook as a 20 year old, when he headed to London to get work after he first started working professionally as an actor, moving down from Yorkshire.
He said: “I ended up in a bedsit and had to cook for myself for the first time. There were so many different cuisines around, and cooking became a passion of mine. I love cooking, and I love football, but I wouldn’t say I have a favourity speciality that I make any more than I have a favourite goal that I’ve seen.
“But in my bedsit I learned how to make spaghetti bolognese and chili, which back in the 80s seemed quite exotic. Curry came in a tin when I was brought up. I got hooked on cooking and I never stopped.
“Now I’ve got a real breadth of knowledge. I’ve read so much about it and have hundreds of cookery books.”
In the past, Chris has done gourmet evenings at the Regent Hotel on South Parade.
He also been a contestant on celebrity masterchef – which he rates as stressful a job as he has done.
“That was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done,” he said. “First night nerves can be stressful in acting. But Celebrity Masterchef was like doing an audition in front of seven million people each day.
“Doing cookery at Doncaster Market’s going to be completely different. I know what I’m talking about when it comes to food so its going to be a fun couple of days talking about something I'm passionate about.
“I love Doncaster Market – it's wonderful and it needs to be cherished. What they’ve done with the Wool Market is brilliant and I think it has really re-vitalised it. There is really diverse food there now.”
The Delicious Doncaster Food and Drink Festival 2019 runs from Friday May 17 until Sunday May 19 around Doncaster Market. Chris Walker's demonstrations are at 10.30am on Saturday and Sunday.