Starting his cooking career aged just two years old, you could say Jonny Marsh is a dab hand in the kitchen.
Starting his cooking career aged just two years old, you could say Jonny Marsh is a dab hand in the kitchen. “My mum used to pin me in the corner of the kitchen with an apron wrapped round the chair to keep me still. She used to give me bowls to mix, too. So I guess that’s where it all started.” He says. At the age of 14 Jonny also helped out in Raymond Blanc’s ‘little restaurant’ in Manchester every Saturday, so when it came to flying the nest he didn’t exactly struggle in the kitchen like most students.
Years later and his latest project, The Tasty Tenner, has already reached more than a thousand subscribers on YouTube and is growing in popularity, with the quick and simple nature of the recipes proving popular amongst students. “The idea came from (how-to video website) Videojug” He explains “but it fits me perfectly as I like to create dishes out of simple ingredients, perfect for students some may say.” His recipes are designed to teach you how to easily cook pasta carbonara, homemade burgers or even the ultimate sausage sandwich in short, five-minute tutorials.
Many chefs are perceived as having a more refined palette, however Jonny is very down to earth when it comes to cooking, and highlights that chefs are not that different from everyone else when it comes to their preferred food of choice. “Whilst I’ve spent most of my professional life cooking very fancy and complex dishes which can take hours to make, for me you can’t beat a home-made cottage pie!”
Similarly, nor do they eat healthy food – especially Jonny. He once worked in a very classic French restaurant that knew no limits on the amount of butter and sugar used, indicating Chefs aren’t exactly known for their healthy lifestyles.
However, with experience comes wisdom and a new culinary direction. Jonny now provides a salvation for students with advice to help them adjust to cooking for themselves. “Plan what you want for the week the day you do the shop and stick to it. Not only will you know exactly what’s in your meals but you can make them as healthy as you want.”
As well as pointing out the benefits of planning ahead Jonny warns not to jump ahead of yourself too quickly by trying to cook overcomplicated foods. “Don’t be afraid to keep it simple, follow recipes and be creative. Keep it interesting so it doesn’t get boring otherwise you’ll be tempted to go back to that unhealthy lifestyle.
“I think students eat unhealthy because their lives are very social, they go out, wake up late and don’t have a lot of money to spend… No student wants to wake up and make an eggs Benedict, a hollandaise sauce, toast a muffin, poach an egg and cook spinach. Imagine just doing half of that on a hangover! It’s much easier to warm a pizza you picked up from the takeaway the night before.”
While students often opt for the easier option, Jonny argues that this doesn’t necessarily equate to being the unhealthy option – even simple dishes can be made more interesting with a few tricks. “Seasoning!” He cries. “People’s lack of knowledge regarding salt and pepper is frightening. They think the smallest amount of salt or pepper will be enough to season a huge pan… I recommend seasoning in stages; when you create your base layers, when the main body of the dish is added to the pan and then at the end – that way you’re guaranteed flavour! You don’t want your food to taste like it’s been dipped in the sea, but you need enough to enhance the flavour. Also, freshness of ingredients is key.”
Go into any supermarket and you can guarantee there are piles of cheap, healthy ingredients to put together easy meals. However for students, the main issue is most of the time – because of culture variances or education – we do not even know they exist. Products such as kale for example can be bought for a pound in Tesco. It has a higher concentration of calcium than milk, helping maintain strong and healthy bones while also fighting against fatigue. It is also known as the vegetable that helped Jennifer Aniston get in shape to play a stripper in the recently released film ‘We’re the Millers’.
“Kale is delicious and very healthy but it’s an ingredient a lot of people don’t know about!” Jonny points out. “I sometime use kale in my stir fry instead of noodles, it works just as well but with less starch!”
Jonny is now looking to take the next big step in his career, and would love to make the leap to working on TV. “I’m gaining great experience with Videojug and love doing it. I’ve been put in front of the right people with screen tests etc, and hopefully next year is the year someone takes a chance on me!”
Top 5 Student Cooking Tips
- Meal planning. Plan what you want to eat for the week before you go shopping and stick to it. This way you can eat as healthy as you want and will avoid snacking. Try to stay creative though, as boredom will make you go back to an unhealthy diet.
- Buy fruits and vegetables from the market in bulk. If you buy a lot, you don’t want to waste it, so you’ll have to eat it.
- Buy fresh ingredients, that way you cannot leave the healthy meals in the freezer and go back to your usual frozen pizza. Bear in mind that a healthy lifestyle takes time and motivation.
- Seasoning. Learn how to use salt and pepper properly, season in stages and buy different spices as it can make simple dishes a lot more tasteful. It will also make you want to mix and create new flavours, therefore learning how to cook!
- Keep it simple. We know that as a student, you don’t exactly have time or energy to spend making fancy dishes, but there is a huge step between Asda Smartprice Instant Noodles and a Scallop Sashimi with Meyer Lemon Confit.
Written by: Anna Pujol-Mazzini
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