TV chef James Martin has admitted he was surprised at the public reaction to his departure from Saturday Kitchen, as he thought nobody would notice.
James, who presented the BBC cookery show for a decade, stepped down at the end of March.
He recalled: “I said to the guys at the Beeb, ‘Oh just put it out there, nobody will notice me leaving.’ Pfft! It was on the front page of every newspaper going.
“It’s surreal, it’s quite weird, but very touching for me, because for something that you’ve done for so long, for people to have that reaction with it, it’s pretty moving.
“I’m a grown farmer’s kid from Yorkshire, but I was touched with that one, that’s pretty special.”
James, 43, told viewers during his final show on March 26 that he was looking forward to a lie-in on Saturdays – and not setting his alarm clock for 4am.
Looking back, he added: “I also wanted to go on to pastures new. Look at different things, look at different restaurants as well. So it was a decision that I made, really.
“To be honest it was probably the right decision.”
James will now be partnering with the supermarket Asda, providing recipes and cooking advice to families on a budget.
He said: “I look forward to the future, and it’s a new chapter, isn’t it?”
“It’s like reading a book, what’s the next chapter. This is one of the chapters. It’s going to be great.”
He added: “The ethos with the brand really is the same as I’ve got with food. I try to make my food available to everybody, and every day.
— James Martin (@jamesmartinchef) March 26, 2016
“That’s the key to it, constantly chefs are coming up with new and different ideas, whereas I think, well you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
“I understand hopefully what people can do at home, so for example if they’ve got a dinner party at home, it doesn’t have to be six hours of lamb casserole. It can be if you want, but there are few hints, tips and cheats you can throw in along the way.”
James has not bid cookery TV farewell completely, continuing to appear on Saturday Kitchen Best Bites on BBC Two on Sunday mornings.