'I am happiest with family and friends around a big table'

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I am happiest with family and friends around a big table

Tom Urquhart, TV presenter and broadcaster with Dubai One, on food, family and learning French

By Mary Paulose

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Published: Fri 25 Jul 2014, 8:06 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:53 PM

What is the number one item on your wish list/to-do list?

That’s a tough one to start with. I would love to get a point in my life when I can design my own dream kitchen in a dream house in Southern Europe. I love kitchens. I love the way that they are always the focus of any home, whether it’s warm or cool. I’d love to have huge open spaces where you prepare food, with all the gadgets under the sun, but then a huge communal kitchen table in the same space. I don’t like it when people disappear into the kitchen for hours and you never see them but am happiest when I have family and friends sat round a big table enjoying a long lunch. There’s something to work towards.

Your favorite vacation spot is…

South of France or central Italy — really fond memories of idyllic childhood holidays there and I’ve always loved going down there. We usually take a house for a few weeks in the summer and then get family and friends to come and join us. I love the pace of life in that part of Europe, the appreciation of the good things in life and the freshest of local produce!

Who would you like to be reborn as, and why?

Been thinking about my grandfather recently because of the D-Day commemorations. He was decorated for his actions on that famous day and the following weeks and went on to become a Major General and Commandant at Sandhurst for many years. I never got the chance to meet him as he died before I was born. Maybe if I came back as one of his soldiers I could witness just how remarkable a leader he was.

Your fitness mantra?

I love my tennis and try and play a few times a week if I can. If not tennis, then squash or begrudgingly the gym but I prefer to be doing something dynamic when getting a sweat on. I get bored in the gym and invariably cut corners.

The first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning?

Coffee. I am slave to the bean and need a couple of hits to get started as I am not great in the mornings.

The app on your Smartphone that you click on most often…

Probably BBC Sports as I constantly need to know what’s what, that or the Sky News app… I’m a sucker for breaking news and the rolling news format.

Your favourite hangout in the UAE is…

Desert Palm has been our home for the last 10 years, and I really can’t imagine living anywhere else. The space, the smell of freshly cut grass every now and again, the birds, the hotel, the community; it’s great for us and even better for the kids. The problem is that you fall out with all your friends as you never want to leave and constantly suggesting for them to make the trek out to see you!

A way in which you are trying to change your life this year

French. I studied it at A-level but my confidence is shot when it comes to conversation. So I have downloaded an app, bought an audio course and am practicing more. Il n’est pas parfait, mais c’est un debut.

Your favorite movie character of all time and why?

Another unenviable task! If I had to narrow it down…of all time…wow…maybe Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade (Al Pacino) in Scent of a Woman for some of the best lines ever delivered!

Your favourite cuisine?

Impossible to say… I love food and one reason I love it is the variety it offers so I literally could not rate one over the other. If you were to ask what food I could not live without? Pasta! In all it’s glorious life-affirming variations.

Favourite restaurant in Dubai

I have too many friends who are restaurateurs or chefs to even attempt to answer this one definitively. If I am with the kids, we often head to Jamie’s Italian or Carluccio’s. If I am with the wife Qbara or Zuma. If it’s Tom time…The Ivy, The Rivi, Tortuga, El Sur, Tom & Serge…I could go on and I will…Al Hambra, D&A, Sevilles, Giolitti, Al Hallab…

As told to Mary Paulose

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