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Kate Goodman - BBC TV’s Food and Drink wine expert on how Youtube secured her big break

PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 June 2014

Kate Goodman

Kate Goodman

Archant

The owner of a Didsbury wine shop is the new star of a television institution, writes Paul Mackenzie

Kate Goodman and James Hands Kate Goodman and James Hands

It started with some homemade videos about wine and has ended with a starring roll on prime time television alongside one of the world’s most famous chefs.

Kate Goodman made the short films for YouTube at her shop in West Didsbury but said: ‘I’m not sure anyone watched them. We made quite a lot of them and put them online. They were very short and a bit silly but we had a laugh.’

But someone obviously did watch them, and word reached the commissioning editor for BBC TV’s Food and Drink programme who was hunting for a wine expert to present the show with the celebrated chef Michel Roux Jr.

‘The BBC called me to ask some questions but they didn’t say what it was about,’ Kate said. ‘A while later they rang back and asked me to do a screen test, matching wines with a Michel Roux Jr prawn dish. I must have made about 15 of those prawn dishes and tried different wines. And my poor husband doesn’t even like prawns.

Kate Goodman Kate Goodman

‘Then I got a call saying I’d got the job and we started about a month later. It has been a bit surreal. I do get nervous before it starts but once we’re on set I get into it and don’t notice the cameras. I really enjoy it. Opportunities like this don’t come around very often so I want to make the most of it.’

Earlier this year Michel left the BBC and Kate added: ‘It’s such a shame. It was brilliant to work alongside him, he’s a brilliant guy and was very supportive to me as a newcomer to television.’

And while she may no longer be working with Michel Roux Jr, another famous name is sure to follow Kate throughout her TV career. Her predecessor on Food and Drink, Jilly Goolden, was famous way beyond the programme’s audience for her flamboyant descriptions of the wines she tasted.

Kate is unlikely to be lampooned in the same way – she favours a more straight forward approach to her tastings – and she said: ‘Jilly Goolden is iconic, everyone knows of her whether they watched the programme or not and her descriptions were brilliant but I tried not to think about the fact I was following her. All I can be is myself.’

Kate was born in Sheffield but moved to Sale, Cheshire, at the age of three when her dad was made port director at the Manchester Ship Canal, with an office close to the BBC’s new base at Salford. The eldest of three children – her brother Mark Chilton was Lancashire cricket captain and is now working back at his old school, Manchester Grammar, while sister Amy works in HR – she was brought up in a household that respected good wine.

‘Dad would have to take business contacts out to dinner and he became interested in wine when I was about 15. I remember him coming home one Christmas with a nice bottle of Burgundy that a customer had given him and we were all really excited.

‘He started buying different wines and experimenting and my interest came from there. We shared a common interest and we would both read books and chat about wine together.’

After Sale Grammar School Kate studied for a degree in European Studies at the University of Hull and spent a year in France where she dated a chef and learned a lot about Gallic food and wine.

‘I was seeing the chef for four or five years and I spent a huge amount of time there and really fell in love with the flavours. It opened my palate and was a great experience.’

But although she wanted to work with wine she didn’t know where to begin and took a post as a trainee accountant with KPMG but didn’t last long there: ‘It just wasn’t for me, my brain didn’t operate in the right way’. She also worked for the wine chain Oddbins and had spells with a software company and in sales, before deciding about a decade ago to launch her own business.

‘I wanted to create a nice, friendly environment where people could feel relaxed because wine can be intimidating,’ added Kate, who is mum to two-year-old Lottie. ‘It’s a matter of breaking down barriers and showing people that wine needn’t be stuffy.

‘When you’re standing in the supermarket with a wall full of wine, it’s hard to know where to start. We’re lucky in the UK that the choice of wines is phenomenal but that can make it overwhelming and people tend to stick to what they know because they don’t want to risk wasting their money.

‘I love being with people and talking about the wines they have had and what they have liked and not liked and what else they might like to try.’

* The next series of Food and Drink, filmed last year before Michel Roux Jr left the BBC, will be screened later this year.

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