Mark Gatiss: ‘I’m really terrified we’re losing coffee forever’ | gatiss brand

I’m going to disappoint you with my terribly proletarian tastes. If I were hanged in the morning, which is quite possible, I’d eat a bean toast. Because I love that and I have it on Sundays very regularly because it makes me happy. I’ve tried to be a lot more adventurous over the years, but basically I’m working class, proletarian dirt and it’s very hard to eradicate some of that stuff.

I was a vegetarian for 15 years and left about 2000, a year after The League of Gentlemen first aired on television. Although things had gotten much better for vegetarians, I remember sitting somewhere in Soho and looking at this menu and there were three things I could eat. And I just thought, “Fuck it!” So I had some chicken and it was unbelievably tasteless and I thought, “I’ve blown it, I’ve wasted 15 years of proper abstinence for this tasteless chicken!” Then the next day I had a bacon sandwich and it was all good.

I am an inveterate cook. Awful. I can make pretty good chilli and I like to make a lamb tagine with apricots. But I also have a kind of anti-Midas touch: I can take the world’s most exotic ingredients and make them smooth.

I am really terrified that we are losing coffee forever. And I mean it very specifically: the coffee, not the coffee. This is a campaign I would like to start. I was in town a couple of weeks ago for a meeting, got there a little early and couldn’t find anywhere but Pret. I don’t even mean amazing greasy spoon. I mean literally somewhere that would make egg and chips and a cup of tea. They are really disappearing and it is a shame because there is nothing like them.

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An army marches on her belly, and that is very true with a film crew. I’ve seen it often, you can have a film crew riot because they don’t like the catering. They just start disappearing at lunchtime, go to the pub and buy something there. And if you’ve lost them, something is seriously wrong. Once I was running something in the middle of a heat wave and I sent someone out to find as many ice poles as we could find in this sparse environment. My goodness what a difference it made to everyone’s mood!

I vividly remember ordering a steak tartare and asking that it be well done. Because he had no idea; they were just some words she had heard in a James Bond movie or something.

Again, going back to my roots, I am a very fast eater. And it is a problem. I have to consciously slow down. I think it’s because we all ate so fast when I was a kid, because well, my dad would cut it off for me if we didn’t. But it casts an interesting shadow, even when you’re trying to enjoy a meal. I’m in the middle of a conversation, I look down and I’m almost done and everyone else just talks: “Oh no, I’ve done it again!”

One of the funniest experiences of my life. It was when my partner and I went to Paris many years ago. We decided to stay on the George V and really push the boat and madly eat at the hotel restaurant. The service was sweltering good, when there are like 13 people to show you to your table. And in a very English way, you just start squeezing yourself because it’s not fun. There was so little food anyway that when we finally ran away, and I think we did run away, we immediately turned the corner and ate an omelette because we were hungry! And it was £500 each for this little meal. Ugh, it was a lesson, a lesson.

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My favorite things

Italian food, in general, is my favorite. I am very fond of all kinds of pasta dishes and there is something about the simplicity of the Mediterranean diet that really ticks all my boxes. Maybe it just goes back to my brood roots.

To drink
Sauvignon blanc, chilled. On the right day, I don’t think there’s anything like it.

Place to eat
Katsuya in Los Angeles. They make a spicy tuna, it’s the richest. You know that feeling when you have chocolate and you don’t really want to swallow it, you just want to let it linger in your mouth? It is so.

dish to make
I make a pretty good chili and enjoy the process. Following a recipe isn’t beyond anyone, but I never seem to. It’s the risk, isn’t it? If dinner is up to you, now is not the time to take chances.

Mark Gatiss plays Larry Grayson in Nolly on ITVX in February. He is directing The Unfriend at the Criterion Theater in London and, starting next month, The Way Old Friends Do at the Birmingham Rep. He will play John Gielgud in The Motive and the Cue at the National Theater from April.

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