Fame Bites - Piers Morgan
January 4th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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Fame Bites goes inside the belly of the entertainment beast. We're dishing out where the celebrities are eating, what they're eating and who they're eating with.

Beginning January 17, Piers Morgan will preside over the nine o'clock weeknight slot where Larry King ruled the roost for 25 years. While everyone else is busy conjecturing about who Morgan's first guest will be, our interests lie elsewhere - like how the man eats.

We recently speculated from his Twitter stream that the British journalist knows how to wine and dine with the best of them - little did we know he could spit out vintners and vintages like Eminem at a rap battle. Turns out, growing up with parents in the restaurant business has its educational perks.

Who taught you to love food?
"Well, my parents ran a country pub in England when I was young, so throughout my formative years, food and the pub atmosphere were always around. They cooked for customers and both of my parents are brilliant cooks as a result of that - so, we were always eating extremely well, whether my mom or dad was doing it - they both were equally good."

Were you involved in the food process as well?
"When I got to be about seven or eight, I used to do the “bottling up," which involved re-filling the rows of empty bottles that have been consumed the night before. You know what a pub is like? It’s like an old-fashioned bar, so you go in and there’d be all the Cokes and tonics, and you’d refill all the beer bottles and stuff – I used to be school-age stinking of beer sometimes, which is a bit embarrassing but it was good – it sort of taught me to be, I think, quite convivial when it came to gastronomy. If you are living in a pub and everyone is eating and drinking all the time, you are kind of immersed into that world. So I like that – I’ve always loved pubs. In fact, I just bought one and it has really good food – we’ve got a great chef, and it’s doing really good pub food and it takes me back to when I was young."

So why now? Why did you decide to buy this pub, the Hansom Cab?
"Well, it was near where I live in Kensington in England - it’s a beautiful little pub and it was run down a bit. It was up for sale and my brother is a landlord and he’d run Guy Ritchie’s pub, The Punchbowl in Mayfair, which became the hottest pub in London – and he’d run that for a couple of years for [Guy]. And so we thought, why don’t we have a go ourselves?"

What type of food is going to be cooked?
"Classic British/English fare. Bangers and mash, hearty steaks, sticky toffee pudding."

British food has a bad reputation stateside.
"Really? We produce the best chefs in the world! Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White. The thing about Britain is that we know how to eat the right portions. I mean here, you just eat too much food. All of you! You just eat too much. So we, at least in Britain, just like the size of our country, we eat things smaller in portion. We just don’t eat as much. Come here and in about a week you’ve put on about eight stone!"

Do you think with people like Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver that British food has gone global?
"Totally. Nigella, Jamie, Gordon, Marco – they’re the best at what they do in the world. I’m not hearing many American chef first name superstars. Are you? Can you think of any? OK, you’ve got five seconds to think of a famous American chef by his first name."

Wolfgang. Oh, wait, he’s Austrian technically...
"Wolfgang is the only one exception, and exactly, he’s not even American. I know Wolfgang really well because I stay at The Beverly Wilshire in L.A. all the time, clocked up two years there, so I’ve eaten at his CUT restaurant about 160 times. And it’s the best steak in the world without any question. In fact, Elton John – I interviewed last week - said the same thing, as did Larry King, as did Regis Philbin. So - it is now officially the best steak in the world. Wolfgang is the only one, but I don’t think he’s even American. I think that this idea that British food sucks, I mean come on, we are the one who’ve got the famous chefs and there are brilliant restaurants in Britain."

Do you do the British Sunday dinner?
"Oh, there is nothing better than Sunday lunch. My favorite would be roast lamb. Roast pork with crackling apple sauce, roast lamb with some nice mint sauce and red currant jelly, roast turkey at this time of year, anything like that. A hearty roast, roast potatoes, lots of good British vegetables, grown in Britain. My dad’s got one of the most amazing vegetable gardens, and we just eat all the fresh produce from there. So going home to my parents is a real treat."

So do you cook the roast?
"God no – I can’t cook anything. I can cook spaghetti bolognese, which was my favorite meal as a kid. My mom was great at spaghetti bolognese, does a great Indian curry, made amazing sandwiches, including cheddar cheese and pickle sandwiches which have remained to this day one of my great favorites. I think you get weaned on these things and then live with it. Whenever I’m going home to my mother, and I’ve been through a particularly stressful time, she brings out cheese and pickle sandwiches and the spaghetti bolognese."

So is that your taste of home?
"Yes, love them."

On an unrelated note, why are British candy bars so much better than American candy bars?
"It’s true! The chocolate tastes better. Our chocolate tastes better than your chocolate. There’s nothing you can do about it - it’s just a fact. You do some things better than us but actually when it comes to chocolate, we are so far ahead of you. Yours tastes weak, sort of insipid - it’s not real chocolate. Ours is proper chocolate. You get stuck in a Jaffa Cake and you’ll know what we are talking about."

If you were advising a young lady or gentleman to woo their crush with a menu for seduction – what would you put on the menu?
"Right. You’d have to start with oysters. They have to be incredibly fresh – because you don’t want food poisoning. I think you start with a dozen oysters, just really top ones and you’ve got to have some Tabasco with that to add a bit of heat to the whole thing as you start.

Then I would say – you know what I would do? I would have one of those great big steaming towers of fresh shellfish. You get them at a place like Balthazar [in New York City]. So when my wife is over, we always have a lunch at Balthazar of Puligny-Montrache wine from Burgundy in France, they do some lovely ones at Balthazar, and we have this gigantic tower - it’s like the Empire State building and everyone stops and stares at you. It has crab, lobster, oysters, mussels, cockles, every type of thing you could want. It’s very seductive – that steaming tower of fresh shellfish. No woman would fail to be overwhelmed by it - but you’ve got to have the French Burgundy with it.

Can’t be any of that American wine otherwise you haven’t got a chance. You’ve got two hopes of success with American wine – no hope and Bob Hope."

What’s one item you can’t go a day without eating or drinking?
"French wine. Puligny-Montrache for white and any Bordeaux really of a good year - like 2005 Bordeaux, '95, '82, Château Latour '61. If I had enough  money, and a lot of it will depend on the success of this show, I will venture to buy a cellar of Château Latour 1961, which is the single greatest bottle of wine ever made.

When I got this job, I actually bought my agent one. And we drank it – thousands of dollars. We drank it at CUT restaurant, supervised by Wolfgang, and it was absolutely memorable. You can’t beat French wine, it is the best in the world."

First time you had that wine?
"Marco Pierre White took me to dinner at the Mirabelle in London, and there were four of us and he ran off the bill at the end for the evening and it was 26,000 pounds - so about $40,000 for four of us. The food was 260 pounds, and the rest was wine. And we had Château Latour '61, Château Lafite '45 - all the great vintages. We had a 1911 Château d'Yquem, a pudding wine, which was the year his mother had been born which meant a lot to him – it had been a great year for Château d'Yquem. And he told me Johnny Depp had been in a few weeks before with Kate Moss, who was then his girlfriend, and he had raced outside with the bottle of Château d'Yquem 1911 and sprayed it over the photographers and it was 10,000 pounds a bottle. They’ve never tasted so expensive."

Greatest meal you’ve ever had?
"The greatest meal I’ve ever had was at a resort in the Maldives called Baros, and it’s a tiny island in the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, one of many islands and they’re all these little resorts - I mean tiny, like half a mile wide. And we got a speedboat - it was the day Barack Obama became President, and so I decided to celebrate this momentous moment by getting a speedboat to about half a kilometer out to sea from the resort, so basically the middle of the ocean.

At a certain time of each month, a sand dune would appear – a huge sand dune, covering about 100 square yards, would rise out of the sea. And it would vanish at about midnight - you had ten hours and they used to do this dinner. So, this whole flotilla of speedboats whisked us out with chefs and waiters, and when we got there they set up all these poles with fire and the table in the middle. And you are in the middle of the ocean on a sand dune! And they prepared this amazing meal of just fresh shellfish, which they cooked in front of us and served to us with Puligny-Montrachet, and we just toasted Barack Obama’s momentous victory and I thought it couldn’t get better than this – twinkling stars and we are the only two people in the ocean. That was amazing."

You recently tweeted that you had breakfast with Christine O’Donnell?
"I did. I taught her how to make a cup of tea."

Would you teach us?
"I would - I promised to tweet it but the trick is to put the milk in with the teabag and the water. What Americans tend to do is they put the bag in the water and they try to assess the quality, but you can’t tell the color. If you put a dash of milk in, and you have to have milk in it, then you can see the color and play around with the bag until it resembles a tan leather color. Anything darker is too stewed, anything lighter is undrinkable."

Catch the premiere of "Piers Morgan Tonight" on CNN on January 17 at 9 p.m. EST. Meanwhile, read about Piers Morgan's long career in journalism, and check out "Piers Morgan Tonight" on Facebook.

Devna Shukla is an Associate Producer for CNN's AC360°.

soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. Terry Washington State

    I like Mr. Morgan a lot. He's right about the food, and very right about Brit choc compared to the wax we call choc here. You could put a wick in the end of a Hershey's bar and it would light up like a candle. Pierce you forgot good ole Yorkie Puds. Seriously, Pierce does have a bit of an air of superiority, and at the same time, I see him as a fair, reasonable and a person I'd friend. He likes to rub elbows and drop names of the famous, yet, unlike many of us, he's had the opportunity to meet these folks and we have not. He's a dead pan at 9pm to replace Larry (and I liked Larry) it was the change and difference the hour needed. He's had some fantastic stars and interviews. He's growing into the US market and I hope he lasts as long as he remains viable.

    July 8, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  2. 0hedgerules

    No no no!!! That's just plain wrong. It takes ages to brew properly if you put the milk in first, and never quite goes right. You should be able to judge the strength anyway, and just add milk to the correct level. That person is a nut case (who is it btw?). The only excuse you can have for doing that is if you live in rural India, where they put the milk and tea in, and brew it all together. They have to boil the milk or they might get deadly food poisoning.

    July 8, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  3. cindy

    They were the only two people in the ocean? With all those waiters and chefs there with them, the only two people? I guess they are on the same level as bugs to him.

    July 8, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  4. Judy Kerschner

    CNN has hired far too many Brits – are there not enough well-spoken, qualified North Americans to fill these positions?

    April 9, 2011 at 3:06 am |
  5. piersmorgansucks

    He is not a likeable person. So, arrogant and full of himself.. And so unprofessional to announce that someobody is 'banned' from his show. Who does he think he is? No matter who he gets on, he sucks and there is no CNN for me between 9 and 10. When this hot celeb list that his people somehow managed to book will get thinner, the ratings will plummet...What am I saying... they are plummeting already. The Brits hate him..why on earth would CNN get him?
    Larry King has an amazing personality, so open, honest, unasumming, very professional. How could CNN ever think this guy will be a match?.. Such an unfortunate choice...

    February 27, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  6. Greg

    I dislike Piers Morgan a lot. He SUCKS! He is awful!!! His interview (butt kissing) of Ricky Gervais was one ridiculous fawning of one limey to another........ He forgot about the job of interviewing, challenge the guest. I am over the British invasion from the nasty limey acts. There is a reason 4th of July is my favorite day!

    January 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  7. PeacefulBlue

    Dude! You are starting off on the wrong foot by thinking that Madonna needs to apologize to you for whatever reason your panties are in a wad! Get over it! If you want people to hear what you have to say, make sense! Don't be hater. You are no Larry King!

    January 10, 2011 at 9:32 am |
  8. concerned network navigator

    don't worry piers, it will be quick and painless. i'm certain that cnn provided you with a nice, comfortable, golden parachute. yet another in a long line of the many blunders this network continues to make.

    cheers old boy.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  9. kevin

    He's a douche and a no-talent hack. He's been fired at every newspaper job he had.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  10. kevin

    He's a douche and no-talent hack. He's been fired at every newspaper job he had.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  11. Tazer

    I know it's been said, but I can't help putting my two cents in.

    Piers, why on Earth did you "hop the pond" to join an American syndication if you indeed loathe all things American? How many times did you put down American products, services, and people in this brief interveiw? Please, take your attitude and go back to the U.K.

    January 5, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • PopEyed

      No one wants to hire him in the UK. Now we're stuck with this arrogant talentless hack. Don't like here, Piers? Then GET THE HELL OUT!

      January 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  12. lol piers

    You can have him Americans, we don't want the douche back. He is going to fail hard on CNN no doubt.

    January 5, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  13. Truth

    I remember when CNN actually cared about news...Now it seems to be going the way of tabloid television, with Joy Behar leading the way. Nice job guys.

    January 5, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  14. Les

    and i want to watch this why???

    January 5, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  15. PJ

    Piers Morgan is the most revolting guy on television. I am shocked that CNN would think that his show could be a success. Just looking at the this man turns my stomach and when he opens his mouth I throw up. We need and want a real American in that time slot and hosting the show. Not a Simon wannabe.

    January 5, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • PopEyed

      Gordon Ramsey is equally revolting. And his restaurants are mediocre, too.

      January 5, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
      • Brit0r

        Which restaurant? His restaurant in Dubai has to rank as one of the best I have ever eaten at.

        January 7, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  16. britperson

    As a Brit living in California I see the attitude of someone who hasn't spent enough time in the US to appreciate it. Average food at restaraunts in the US is better than the UK, but inventions like McDonalds, Burger King and Jack in the Box are terrible for you, and almost anything I have in an American diner is greasier than a traditional english fry up.

    I don't drink wine (I know, I'm terribly uncultured) but the number of people I know who love New World wines tells me that Piers does not know what he is talking about here.

    Where I live now it doesn't seem true but when I lived in the mid-west the number of super obese people was startling. I agree that the UK is following the same trend as the US when it comes to obesity but the number of super obese and extreme obese in the US, measured by the number of people going round Safeway in an electric scooter just cos they are fat, does seem a lot higher.

    Many of the comments here seem to be as uninformed as Piers is – tit for tat is not becoming of anyone. Lets remember that our countries are friends and will be for centuries to come!

    January 5, 2011 at 6:37 am |
  17. Ron

    Can you imagine Piers on Bill O'Reilly's show. It might be the only opportunity in a lifetime one gets to agree with O'Reilly-neh, not even then. But it would be a clash of titan egos!
    I just can't understand why the US has to import obnoxious when they have so much of their own, must be the accent thing???

    January 5, 2011 at 5:53 am |
  18. scott

    Obviously, Morgan is a temp., he gives CNN time to look for a "proper" replacement for Larry. What a schmuck.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:28 am |
  19. Ron

    It will be interesting to see Piers on US television. I am sure he will find Americans uncultured Aholes and they will find him a cultured Ahole. They will both be correct and ironically the US is the only placed Piers could go to be considered a cultured as he is just an A hole everywhere else.
    He worked for the world's sleasist newspaper rags for years followed by judging American Idol- what a classy resume. Even scarier he seems proud of it! He may fit right in?????

    January 5, 2011 at 5:22 am |
  20. Jason

    UK has the best chefs just like the best fashion designers are Afghan and most intelligent computer prgorammers are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:14 am |
  21. Ian S.

    I've been inspired. I'm going to make Shepherd's Pie for supper tonight.
    Om nom nom....

    January 5, 2011 at 5:09 am |
  22. Ron

    The fact is Gordon Ramsey is on TV because he is a a young, good looking, screaming, maniac, ignoramus and Nigella because men just want to bite her. They are not there because they can cook-even if they can.
    And as to England being known for great cuisine-give me a break. Piers listed his family pub fare-enough said! Nationalism is one thing but get real. Arguing culinary skills between England vs US is like a pedofile calling a serial killer a bad person--very relative at the least. And I say that as a Canadian knowing we are just as no better than either.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:06 am |
  23. JHaas

    Is he really British? I'm French and like England a lot. I like British food, I'm a huge Gordon Ramsey fan, but really, Piers Morgan has got to be the most arrogant, biggest French ahole I've ever seen.

    Seriously, I'm not into food but when I think star chef, the first name that comes to mind is Thomas... as in Thomas Keller, universally considered to be one of the world's top 3 chefs, an American.

    Wines? French wines are the best in the world? Maybe for someone who thinks a wine's quality is determined by the sticker price. Here's a hint: some Texan wines blow anything from France out ot the water. They're truly one of America's best kept secrets, but you wouldn't want your snotty friends to find out you have anything good to say about a non-EU-compliant state like Texas, now would you?

    January 5, 2011 at 4:41 am |
  24. Ryan

    CNN, you are tanking. Are you reading the comments from real viewers on here? No one likes Piers. And you wonder why Fox and MSNBC are above you...

    January 5, 2011 at 4:00 am |
  25. twinfish13

    Piers, dear: you would definitely change your opinion after eating Mario Batagli's magnificent creations. Do get off your high horse, and have him prepare a feast for you. And, invite him to be a guest on your darling little show; the rapport should be delightful.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:42 am |
  26. SilentBoy741

    "The thing about Britain is that we know how to eat the right portions."

    If I had to survive on British food, my portions would be a lot smaller, too.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:28 am |
  27. I Thunk It ...

    I am Canadian, and can still feel the pinch up here. And British chocolate? Cadbury's? What's he talking about? Insecure twit.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:06 am |
  28. William

    Lousiana crawfish and jambalaya, Georgia fried catfish, Texas BBQ, Tennesee pulled pork, NY deli ANYTHING, apple pie from about any state, Chesapeake Crabs, Maine lobster, Idaho potatoes. and on and on.
    THIS country knows how to cook how to eat and BTW we feed the world!

    January 5, 2011 at 3:04 am |
  29. Alisdiar Liddle

    British Pub food is unhealthy and is the reason that there are so many fat brits.

    A sign by the pub's entrace: "We're serving swill today, bring your bucket."

    January 5, 2011 at 2:16 am |
  30. Brit11

    First off Piers Morgan is a complete douche, and as an ordinary member of the British pubic (living in NZ) i apologize for palming him off to you.

    But i would also like to stand up for British food. We have some of the best restaurants and chefs in the world. Perhaps typical English cuisine leaves much to be desired, but in 2011 i doubt you would find any "good" restaurant or cafe serving the sort of stuff you got in the 1980's.

    Also i would like to say that the Indian food you eat in Britain is British food, the people running these restaurants are often second or third generation immigrants to the country. So yes Indian food is the most popular food in Britain, but its also cooked by British people.

    I have been to the US a number of times, and i can say i throughly enjoyed the food there, particularly the Italian restaurants (not American), and the steaks (not exactly a new invention?). Also there are just as many huge people in the UK as in the US, so Piers is wrong about that.

    So thats just me standing up for the British food culture, and i am sure if you went to any city in England you would be able to sample very good food.

    Just me 2 cents

    January 5, 2011 at 2:12 am |
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