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Fame and fortune: Gary Rhodes

GARY RHODES is a celebrity TV chef and the owner of a number of restaurants � including two that have been awarded Miche-lin stars.

He has written numerous books and appeared on TV shows including Rhodes Around Britain.

He runs nine restaurants, including two on board P&O cruise liners and others in hotels in Dubai and the Caribbean. His 19th book, 365, which has a recipe for each day of the year, has just been published.

Rhodes, 48, lives near Bromley, Kent, with his wife Jennie and two children, George, 18, and Samuel, 20.

How much money do you have in your wallet? I have �45. I usually have a little bit more than that, around �80 or so, because you never know when you may need it.

Do you have any credit cards? I have a Mastercard and a Barclaycard though I don�t really need or like using them. They are mostly for emergencies. Barring the house, I don�t like to buy things unless I can afford them, especially in the current climate. We�re trying to tutor our to sons into thinking like that, but so far it doesn�t seem to be working.

Are you a saver or a spender? I occasionally go on spending sprees, especially for clothes and shoes. I don�t do this often, but when I do, I like to splash out � shoes, ties and so on � I end up coming out with a full wardrobe.

I also like to eat out at least once a week with Jennie.

I�m realistic about money, though. I set aside half of what I earn into a separate account for tax and other expenses. Do you like eating out? There are endless restaurants I�d like to try, particularly in London and Paris. However, travel costs are high especially as I can�t plan things too far in advance. If I decided to go to Paris tomorrow, for example, I�d have to pay full price on the train which is ludicrous.

I�m sticking to more local restaurants at the moment. One of my favourites is Xian on Orpington high street. It�s the best Chinese Jennie and I have ever eaten in. We visited 43 times last year, and we�re probably going to break that record this year.

I�ve grown out of being super-critical whenever I eat out. In my twenties and thirties, I questioned everything a chef did. I�ve matured since then, and have learnt to enjoy the whole event � the people, the atmosphere � rather than just the food. Food has to be pretty bad for me to be critical.

How much did you earn last year? It�s a six-figure sum. My main source of income is from the nine restaurants we�re involved in and we�re opening a tenth in November. TV doesn�t really pay that well, but it does lead to other things like increased book sales.

Has the credit crunch affected your business? It�s a case of being aware of the situation our restaurant guests are in. In some of the brasseries in particular we�ve adjusted menu compilations to make the eating experience that little bit more affordable.

There is perhaps less of an impact at the top end. In our two Michelin-starred restaurants we haven�t dropped the price, but we are introducing alternative set menus which we can offer at a more competitive price.

We�re also making sure we�re sticking with the season and buying locally � not only are the ingredients fresher, they�re also cheaper.

Have you ever been really hard up? In the early 1980s I was offered a position as a chef at the Amsterdam Hilton and was paid �50-�60 a week. It was one of my first jobs after three years of training at Thanet technical college in Broadstairs. I had absolutely nothing after paying for rent and travel. I ate the most basic of foods.

I worked there for three years before moving back to the UK but it was still pretty difficult. I had nowhere to stay so I ended up back at my parents� house.

I always remember when Jennie and I bought our first property. It was in 1986 and I was a head chef by then. It was a three-bedroom semi in Taunton, Somerset, and cost �35,000. We were chuffed because it came with curtains and carpets.

However, we couldn�t afford a proper bed. We had a sofa bed instead which was used as a sofa during the day and as a bed at night.

Do head chefs get paid well? If you go back to the mid1980s, salaries were nowhere near what they are today. It was not until the late 1990s or 2000 before you got silly money being paid. If you work for me as a head chef, you would earn between �40,000 and �60,000 a year depending on the specific job. It�s only the really top chefs who earn anything close to six-figures. If you�re starting and have come straight from college, we pay around �12,500 to �14,500.

Do you own a property? I have a five-bedroom detached property in Bromley. It was built around five years ago and we moved in soon after it was completed. One of its main attractions is its location. The train from Bromley South only takes around 15 minutes to get to London Victoria.

At the moment, it�s still worth more than what we paid for it, so I don�t worry about negative equity much. We have no intention of moving any time soon.

What�s your kitchen like? It�s a domestic rather than professional kitchen. The only thing I made a big fuss about was having a decent stove. I have a Wolf cooker and oven which cost around �800 or so around five years ago. It only has four rings but also a flat top so you can pan-fry things or put a steak directly onto it.

Jennie does most of the cooking. However, for certain things, like risotto and some fish dishes, I like to do them myself only because I really enjoy doing it. There isn�t any tension in our kitchen, we like to work very closely together. What was your first ever job? Working as a cleaner in a local restaurant in Kent when I was 15. About eight months into the job, they promoted me to the washer-upper.

I got �7 a week for cleaning three mornings a week. My pay didn�t change when I was promoted, but that was fine because I was seeing how things worked in a kitchen.

What is the most lucrative work you have ever done? Did you use the fee for anything special? I did an after-dinner speech for an advertising firm a few years ago which paid �10,000. It lasted about 20 minutes, so it was a pretty good hourly rate. I didn�t think I�d get that price, but my agent went in on a silly price and they agreed.

We spent some of the money going out for an expensive dinner, but most of it was put aside as savings.

Do you invest in shares? Not in any significant way. I put some money into an investment Isa each year although my wife and my accountant deal with all that.

What�s better � property or pension? I think long term, I would say my property. You can also pass a property on to your children, after paying inheritance tax of course. With a pension, once you�re dead, it�s gone. I do pay into a pension scheme, though it�s not a significant amount.

Are you financially better off than your parents? Yes. My parents are both retired but they used to manage their own building company. It was only on a very small, local scale.

What�s been your best investment in life? Other than the house, it would be my wife. She is my No 1 food critic. I need someone like her to tell me what my cooking is really like. Many of the dishes I cook have been adapted because of comments and advice from her � she�s not afraid to tell it to me like it is.

What about the worst? In the early 1980s I remember feeling very flash after buying a white Opel Manta for a couple of thousand. I thought it was the height of cool, but of course it broke down almost as soon as I bought it and then kept breaking down. Luckily I managed to part-exchange it. Do you manage your own financial affairs? Jennie deals with much of my accounts, but we also have our accountants with whom we keep close contact at all times � at least once or twice a week.

What�s the most extravagant thing you have ever bought? I bought a black Porsche Turbo a couple of years ago. It was less than a year old but cost over �70,000. I don�t mind though � it�s been a lifetime ambition of mine to own one.

What aspect of our taxation system would you change? I would make sure taxes can�t go up any more.

What is your money weakness? I�m fanatical about clothes. I quite often go into a store and come out having spent over �1,000. A few weeks ago, I went to a Giorgio Armani store on Sloane Street � it�s my favour-ite so I get a bit carried away. There was sale on, so I bought three suits that had 50% off.

What is your financial priority? To make sure my children have a good education and they don�t leave university with huge amounts of debt.

What is the most important lesson you have learnt about money? Any money that you earn should be appreciated and respected.


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