After nine series of How To Look Good Naked, Gok Wan is going back to his childhood roots for his latest Channel 4 venture, Gok Cooks Chinese (opens in new tab) (Monday). The 37-year-old fashion and body image consultant grew up helping out in his father’s Leicestershire Chinese restaurant and the series sees him and his father John, known as Papa Wan, serve up their very own recipes for quick and healthy Chinese meals. We caught up with Wan to find out what’s on the menu... I thought Channel 4 were bonkers when they suggested the series... I’m obviously known for doing fashion and body image shows. But they said it would work because of my history working with food in my dad’s restaurant. Now that I’ve seen the series I’m very pleased I let them persuade me. It’s brought back happy memories of working with my dad and learning a skill when I was young... I feel very privileged now looking back on my upbringing. At the time I didn’t realise my dad was imparting his knowledge; I thought he was just making me work. Food was the way he taught me about his heritage and his culture. My dad is very good on camera... But he doesn’t harbour any great ambitions to be famous. He’s not about to start swanning down red carpets. Good food is better than sex, shoes or handbags... That sounds controversial coming from me. But think about it. We get dressed maybe once or twice a day, depending on what our diaries are, but we have to eat at least three times every day. We don’t think about food as much as we should do. My dad has a saying that the Chinese will eat anything that flies except airplanes and rockets... When I was growing up we’d have boiled salted chicken. It would still have the head on. My dad would quite happily eat the head in front of us and we wouldn’t bat an eyelid. It’s what we were brought up with. It’s only later in life that it seems bizarre. I’ve had a shaky few moments with my health recently... I slipped a disc. I’ve had five operations on it. I’m now having steroids injected into my spine to separate the nerve canal from my vertebrae. I’m recovering. I’ll be back mincing around again very soon. How To Look Good Naked has not been canned... It’s just that we made so many of them, it was time to rest it. It’s the show that made me successful on television and it’s also a show that the nation took to its hearts. I didn’t want to keep doing it until it ran out of steam. It will come back at some point, but maybe in a different form.
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.
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