IVAN Day, now in his 50s, was born in Ireland, but ...

Date: Saturday 12th November 2005

IVAN Day, now in his 50s, was born in Ireland, but has spent most of his life in England and more than half of it in Cumbria, so he hopes he is regarded as a “local”.

He believes his love of food stems from his childhood. Although food was in short supply after the World War 11, his family always had a good supply of ingredients as his father was a keen fisherman and often went shooting.

Mr. Day remembers buying his first recipe book at the age of 13 when he and a friend took shelter from the rain in a book shop, much to the alarm of the shopkeeper, who suspected he was harbouring a couple of shoplifters.

“I remember taking a book down from the shelf, opening it and discovering how to boil a sucking pig only it was written in archaic English so the ‘s’ was an ‘f’, which caused great amusement,” Mr. Day recalled. “I had £5 and the book was marked at 15 shillings so I asked the shopkeeper what his best price was and I got it for 12 shillings and sixpence.”

On leaving school, Mr. Day studied botany and then art at university and it was while living in Greece he learned how to cook over an open fire. He started his first period catering business at the age of 21 and at one time ran a restaurant.

He now combines his considerable artistic talent with his vast knowledge of botany, historical English food, period kitchens, and cookery to create exhibitions, banquets and feasts. He is the author of five books, his next is A History of Food in the Lake Counties, and he regularly writes papers on the history of food for magazines. In the past 14 years he reckons he has recorded about 20 television programs.

His current exhibition, “A Christmas Tudor Banquet”, is on show at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, until 6th January, and he is to feature in a special Christmas edition of The Food Program on Radio 4, on 18th December. Next year, he is due to make a 13-part series for an American television channel, stage another exhibition, and do a lecture tour in the USA.

In his spare time, Mr. Day enjoys playing the fiddle, fell walking and entertaining friends, whom he usually treats to some of his unusual dishes. He admits to having a love of food from the past, but, like most, has to occasionally count the calories when his waistline is unsympathetic to overindulgence.