IT’S 20 years since James Martin first cooked live on the telly and along the way he has picked up millions of viewers, danced his way to the semi-finals of Strictly, and discovered a serious passion for planes, cars and motorbikes.

At least two of those – it’s unlikely there will be dancing – will have a starring role in his first touring stage show, Plates, Mates and Automobiles which kicks off in Glasgow on February 22.

“Glasgow is an excellent place to start the tour off,” grins the Yorkshire born chef, who says he loves Scottish food.

“I’m looking forward to coming back to the city, it’s a place I know and love. I have huge respect for Scottish food and the restaurant scene is brilliant.”

The idea for the tour has been “kicking around” for 15 years, James explains.

“I’ve been asked before but it was never the right time,” he shrugs. “Now I’ve got the time, I have the right people around me with Live Nation on board and I can do it in such a way that it’s interesting and exciting.”

He grins: “I didn’t want to do just another live cookery show, where I stand on a stage and deliver a great scone recipe. I wanted it to be different, something people have never seen before.”

To that end, he reveals he has been learning a ‘secret skill’ in the run up to the show, which may or may not be unveiled on the night.

“It’s something I have never, ever done before, that I have to train for, and it’s really hard,” is all he will say on the matter. “If I pull it off, it will be amazing. If I don’t…well, it won’t be in the show. I can’t tell you what it is, it will spoil the surprise.”

Plates, Mates and Automobiles will also include surprise guests – something else he can’t reveal in advance – and will be packed with signature cooking demonstrations and high-tech multimedia.

“It’s like a big jigsaw puzzle, so we’re just putting all the pieces together – some tastings, some cars on the stage, a few film clips – I really wanted it to be a lot of fun,” he says.

“Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of hard work but that’s what life’s all about, isn’t it? Challenging yourself, pushing yourself forward and refusing to stand still?

“I’ve never been afraid of hard work.”

James was born in 1972 in Malton, Yorkshire and brought up on the Castle Howard estate where his father worked as a catering manager.?

At 16 he began his formal training at Scarborough Technical College, where he was Student of the Year for three years running.

After catering college James went to work for Antony Worrall Thompson in the kitchens of One Ninety Queen’s Gate in London. From there, the talented young chef went on to work for many of London’s big names, including Marco Pierre White. He then toured France, working in chateaux kitchens and gaining experience in Michelin star establishments. When he moved back to England, he took up a position as junior pastry chef at the acclaimed Chewton Glen.

In 1994, just a few weeks short of his 22nd birthday, James opened the Hotel and Bistro du Vin in Winchester as head chef, where he became famous for changing the menu every day.?It was a spring-board to the hotel opening up nine more hotels over the next 10 years. In 2006 James became the presenter of popular BBC One show Saturday Kitchen. The show is a Saturday morning staple, regularly attracting viewers in excess of 3.5 million.

In 2012 James interviewed Sir Jackie Stewart for Racing Legends on BBC2 about his life and career. The pair drove through the Alps in a Pantera supercar and James also drove Sir Jackie’s Tyrell Formula One car around the Monza race circuit.

“I love cars,” he grins. “I think that while olive oil runs through one vein, motor oil runs through the other.

“It all started on the farm as a kid when I got to drive the old tractor. Over the years I have had the opportunity to not only drive in some great places but to drive in some great cars.”

In late 2013 James joined Mary Berry as co-judge on the first series of Junior Bake Off on CBBC. The show went on to win a BAFTA for Children’s Entertainment.

“It’s important to make kids aware of food and cooking and the skills involved,” James explains.

His new book of dessert recipes, Sweet, is out now but for the time being, he is concentrating on the tour – and that secret new talent he is about to unleash on the British public.

“I can’t wait,” he laughs. “I want to get this right because this is it for me – I won’t be doing all this again. This tour is definitely a one-off.”

James Martin’s Plates, Mates and Automobiles is at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Monday, February 22. Tickets are available from Find out more at