Ricky Wilson: Working on The Voice, I have the same thing for lunch every day

The musician and judge on The Voice reveals a childhood obsession with crisp sandwiches and why he never eats on a plane

I wasn’t interested in food as a kid. I was skinny, non-sporty and lacked appetite, although lamb chops were OK, especially with mint sauce – the king of condiments and still the only sweet thing I like. I’ve never once ordered a pudding.

The only food I made as a kid and teen was crisp sandwiches, with white bread, margarine and crisps. I’ve spoken to Michelin-starred chefs after appearing on Sunday morning TV shows and they can all reel off their favourite crisp sandwich, like “Frazzles, white bread, Lurpak!”

I’m particularly good at blind crisp taste tests. I competed in one on a couples holiday in Tuscany recently and I got 10 out of 10 in a range that covered baked 20p Tangy Toms up to gourmet sweet chilli Kettles.

I dislike strangers or acquaintances watching me eat. Eating’s very personal, like a bodily function. My discomfort starts to fade only after I’ve known someone quite a while, so I’ve never taken anyone for dinner as an early date, and never eaten at a charity dinner or on a plane.

There’s a stigma attached to dining on one’s own, but I adore it. I take a book or notebook. Not to actually read, or write in, but so no one will bother me.

At Leeds University, a kitchen was just a place to plate my takeaway or make Smash. But there was a pub across the road called The Dry Dock and students were given Yellow cards, which got us a pint for £1.10 or a Big Docker – a burger, chips and a pint – for £3.99. I was all over that and would pray it’d rain so I’d have to stay in there all day. But I always avoided bright blue or pink drinks in bottles and Aftershocks and all that nonsense.

While studying graphic design, working all Saturday in a bar paid my £33 rent, and afterwards it funded me being in a band. It gave me confidence, taught me patience and made me realise that – at their core – everybody is pretty much all right.

My true food hell is coriander. I’d never experienced coriander before moving south to London and suddenly there was something in every dish which looked like old parsley and tasted like soap to me. It’s a bully, coriander. Put it in anything and it vies for attention, shouting “I’m here, I’m here. I’m coriander!”

I’m lactose intolerant, which in France – without a tour caterer – is especially difficult, because I’m not sure they even have a word for it.

I’ll never eat fish and chips in London – because a proper fish and chip shop concentrates on fish and chips, not pizzas and burgers too, and it certainly doesn’t serve it in pop arty paper. I really like The Mariners in Penryn but my favourite is The Harbour Lights in Falmouth, which has 15 tables and a sea view.

As soon as we arrive at 9am to do The Voice the studio runner asks, “What will you want for lunch and dinner?” I say the same every day: “For both, a chicken avocado salad with no dressing.” I just don’t want to think about eating while working. The other judges seem to have a lot of sushi. Sometimes sushi scares me. So I’d go for the Itsu Health & Happiness box. I know it’s not very adventurous, but I’m from the north of England, pal.

Viewers are judgmental about your weight when you’re on TV. I’m always either too fat or too thin. I think I was briefly the perfect weight last March.

It’s a wasted Sunday when I don’t have a Sunday lunch. It’s the ultimate relaxed informal dinner party to say, “We’ll be in the pub for lunch between 1pm and 4pm.” I see a lot of people that way. And then, squiffy from wine, it’s home for a Columbo which I’ve seen before but is like opium. Wherever I am in the world, on Sunday I seek out a roast, a Columbo and then an early night.

The Voice is on BBC1, Saturdays, 7pm; Kaiser Chiefs tour the UK from 31 January


John Hind

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The Voice: Kaiser Chiefs' Ricky Wilson to join as coach
Singer to complete lineup for BBC1 talent show alongside Kylie Minogue, will.i.am and Sir Tom Jones. By Mark Sweney

Mark Sweney

19, Sep, 2013 @7:39 AM

Article image
Kaiser Chiefs' Ricky Wilson: 'We lost the anger somewhere along the way'

He is the first to admit that Kaiser Chiefs got fat and lazy. Now they're back – and with something to prove. But what on earth is he doing moonlighting on The Voice?

Tim Jonze

08, Jan, 2014 @7:00 PM

Article image
Kaiser Chiefs singer Ricky Wilson and bassist Simon Rix on their musical relationship
Kaiser Chiefs' singer and bassist met when they were 17, but it took the northerners until last year to open up to each other and write songs together

Katie Burnetts

09, Feb, 2014 @12:05 AM

Article image
Antonio Carluccio: 'We'd have the wehrmacht at lunch and then the Italian resistance at dinner'

The chef and author on growing up in wartime Italy, and other formative food experiences. Interview by John Hind

John Hind

20, Oct, 2012 @11:11 PM

Article image
Harry Hill: 'There's no such thing as healthy eating'

The comedian tells John Hind about doctors' diets and helping farmers in Malawi

John Hind

16, Jul, 2011 @11:05 PM

Article image
Jessie Ware: 'I'm such a bully about food'

The breakthrough British star of 2012 on Marmite, Lidl – and forcing her vegetarian guitarist to eat meat. Interview by John Hind

John Hind

19, Jan, 2013 @10:00 PM

Article image
Jamie Cullum: 'Great musicians are also great cooks'

The jazz musician's childhood food was a heady mix of his family's Burmese, Indian, Spanish and Jewish roots, he tells John Hind

John Hind

20, Jul, 2013 @7:00 PM

Article image
KT Tunstall: 'I spent my first music pay cheque on M&S food'

The Scottish singer on chips, going vegan – and her youthful nickname of 'Katy Custard'. Interview by John Hind

John Hind

15, Jun, 2013 @9:00 PM

Article image
Michael Bublé: my salmon-kissing days

The singer tells John Hind about his former career as a fisherman – and why he hates beetroot

John Hind

13, Nov, 2011 @12:08 AM

Article image
Zoë Ball: 'I was never a cook, and I chewed rubber bands when pregnant'

The TV and radio presenter on her early diet of spam, soup and cheese – and using shop-bought cookies on children's TV. Interview by John Hind

John Hind

16, Jun, 2012 @11:04 PM