Arguments, fights and arson threats - the rise of 'Padstein'
Celebrity chef Rick Stein has shared riotous stories of setting up his own restaurant in Cornwall in an unflinchingly honest memoir revealing private battles behind his friendly public persona.
His autobiography 'Under a Mackerel Sky' tells of fist fights, a shotgun attack and a customer who almost killed him during his rise to fame in the Duchy as one of Britain's best-loved TV chefs.
The 66-year-old, who first opened the Seafood Restaurant with his wife 40 years ago on the site of their former nightclub in Padstow, charts the rise of his culinary empire from a portable disco, to a disastrous club to a profitable restaurant.
In extracts published by the Daily Mail, he recounts his reaction to one customer's complaint: "Marching straight out to a large, round table filled with a party from Rock in Cornwall, I shouted: 'The trouble with you upper middle-classes is you're so supercilious!'"
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He admits his temper "sometimes got the better of me" – but that he never hit anyone and he always apologised after letting off steam.
Unsurprisingly he was "exhausted" from working 16-hour days involving everything from buying fresh seafood to cooking it, and then cleaning out blocked urinals at midnight.
When he first started Stein describes himself as a chef "who hadn't the faintest idea how to dice a tomato correctly, make a soufflé or prepare a rack of lamb".
His first venture was christened The Purple Tiger – a mobile discotheque consisting of two record decks, an amplifier, self-made speakers, and a lighting machine with coloured plastic folders from WH Smith.
In 1973 he bought a nightclub in Padstow that was on the market for £65,000.
"It had swirly purple carpets, purple faux-leather banquette seating and a small dance floor with aluminium chains hanging down from the roof," he describes.
"Indeed, the club was so out-of-place in the prosaic fishing port of Padstow that it was a bit like finding an opera house in the Peruvian rain forest."
He depicts the town as a "gritty fishing port" and admits still to having nightmares about the club.
During one night in early June he was knocked out with one punch and spent a night in Treliske Hospital with concussion.
Another night a group of drunken men in their 30s known collectively collectively as the Watford Boys, "swarmed" on him and he ended up in casualty overnight.
He details various other bloody incidents, including when a local attacked a fisherman with broken glass.
Stein eventually decided to open a family restaurant in order to build "some sort some sort of credibility with ordinary, nice people and put my den of iniquity behind me".
He speaks candidly of his first cook called Tessa "who smoked a lot of dope".
"She finally arrived from the pub, p***ed, at about 6pm, incapable of doing anything. Fortunately, there were no customers."
Several years later Stein enrolled at catering college because in his own words his culinary skills were "grossly inadequate".
He admits: "I didn't even know, for instance, how to make croquette potatoes or puff pastry."
Finally he had gone from "the boy who'd had no idea what he was going to do in life" to "a fully-fledged chef".
The effect of Rick Stein on Padstow was massive as suggested in the joke reference to the town as "Padstein" which made him feel "embarrassed" but also "slightly chuffed".
In 2005 he was sent a email by a the 'Cornish Liberation Army' threatening to burn down his restaurant after submitting planning permission for a building called Prospect House.
He says: "It's part of the price you have to pay for being well known. But also, I admit, the price of hubris."