Creator and presenter of Desert Island Dishes Margie Broadhead on coming up with a frankly genius fusion of guest interviews and delicious recipes, plus not worrying when an attack of the nerves strikes while on air…
There’s something about tuning into a podcast of a Sunday evening or during a frantic commute that’s both soothing and stimulating at the same time, and the rate at which we’re subscribing to podcasts of every genre indicates that the our minds and ears are hungry for every more storytelling, knowledge and probably a break from the constant screen scrolling that dominates modern life.
One particular podcast that we, and the nation, are devouring each week is a play on one of the oldest radio programmes still in broadcast, Desert Island Discs, but with a clever switch of music for meals, making Margie Broadhead’s Desert Island Dishes a mouthwatering delve into the tastes and lives of guests such as journalist Dolly Alderton, comedian Bella Younger ( Deliciously Stella ) and multiple Bake Off winners along the way. From using food to make friends to harbouring a secret love of plane meals, revelations across the episodes are many, varied and seriously personal. We decided to interview Margie ourselves to find out how she got her podcast on the ground, and which guest she’s still hankering to quiz...
What's your background in food?
“I trained as a chef at the world renowned Ballymaloe cookery school in Ireland. It was such an amazing experience and was great preparation for cooking in professional restaurants. I’ve cooked all over the world, in South Africa, Japan, Italy and the South of France. I honed my craft working for Sally Clarke at her eponymous restaurant in London before eventually setting up my own catering company, Made by Margie, where I’ve cooked for some of the biggest names in fashion including Temperley London, Tory Burch and De Beers. I’ve been writing my blog of the same name for five years too, and I’ve built up a bank of over 300 recipes now. Starting my Desert Island Dishes podcast last year felt like such a natural thing for me to do and I’m so excited to see where it will take me.”
Can you describe your podcast in a sentence?
“Every week I interview inspiring and interesting people and ask them about their seven desert island dishes, which range from the dish that most reminds them of their childhood, the first dish they learned to cook and of course the final dish they would choose to eat before being cast off to the desert island!
“It’s a different way of interviewing people but you find that the act of sharing favourite dishes is both deeply personal and fascinating. We get to see a different side of the guest and find out about much more about them than just the details of the dishes that have shaped their lives.”
What inspired you to start the podcast?
“I love everything to do with food, from cooking it, to eating it and talking about it! The questions I ask in the podcast are all the questions I tend to ask people anyway, being a.) very nosey and b.) very greedy. It just hit me one day that this would make so much sense as a podcast!”
How do you decide who to feature and where do you start with creating recipes inspired by their choices?
“There are so many interesting people in the world doing so many inspiring things, it’s hard to know where to start in selecting people. I like to have a mix of people from the world of food and beyond. Whether you live to eat or eat to live, or whether you work in the world of food or not, it really doesn’t matter because we all eat - and what we choose to eat, what we love to eat and where we eat is really interesting!
“As soon as the guest starts speaking I’m making a mental note of their choices and by the end of the interview I know which dish I want to focus on. It might be the spaghetti vongole their husband makes for them, or the lemon tart they once ate that they still think about years later, or possibly the fish and chips they remember eating on holiday as a child. There is always something that sticks with me from what they talk about whether it’s the dish itself or the memory associated with it. Then it’s really fun to take that as a starting point and play around with it. I experiment with the recipe, put my own spin on it and create my own version. Then comes the styling and photographing the food which I absolutely love.”
What's your most memorable interview (and desert island meal!) so far?
“It’s so hard to pinpoint just one. I love the variation in the guests so far and the different places the conversations have taken us. The chat isn’t limited to just food. I’ve been let in on proposal stories and taken on holiday to far flung places in the world, I’ve visited restaurants I’ve never been to and eaten dishes I haven’t heard of, all through the stories of my guests.
“Some of the answers are really surprising and although the talk is centred on food, the stories are often very personal which is fascinating. I love being surprised by the choices and I’m always inspired by every guest. I might take away a new dish that I need to try, or a restaurant I know I must visit or simply leave feeling inspired and energised in my work and ready to take on the world which is how I hope the listener feels as well.”
Any tips on making a podcast engaging?
“I think it’s really important to be yourself. People like to feel part of the conversation, like they are listening to a chat between friends. Often, this is the first time I’m meeting the guest and we only have a few minutes to set up before we start recording, so it’s important to make the guest feel at ease and for it all to sound as natural as possible.”
Was presenting daunting at first?
“I was terrified at the beginning! But I think that’s what made this whole thing so much fun. It’s pushed me to get out there and meet loads of new people and do something that I wouldn’t have been able to do a few years ago. I think that’s part of what people like listening to, I’ve been told I sound like a friend which is so lovely to hear and such a compliment. I do sometimes sound nervous and the rapport with each guest is nuanced but I think that reflects ordinary, everyday conversations and is part of the charm. I hope so anyway!”
Do you get feedback and requests from your listeners?
“Yes! That’s a part that has really overwhelmed me, in the best sense of the word. To have so many people listening each week is just amazing and I get so many emails each day that it’s hard to keep on top of them. Podcasts feel really intimate in the sense that the listener chooses to download your show and then listens to you as they go about their day. You may be with them when they walk to work, or take their dog to the park, or when they’re stuck in traffic or bored at their desk. That feels lovely and to know that people are enjoying the work you are doing is really special and I’m so grateful people like Desert Island Dishes.”
Who would be your dream podcast guest and why?
“Gosh, I have a few dream guests and some of them are coming up on the podcast which is very exciting, but I can’t say too much or it will give the game away! I would love to interview the amazing Kirsty Young and find out what her Desert Island Dishes would be. That would be a dream for sure.”
What's in the pipeline for Desert Island Dishes? Do you have any developments or teasers on upcoming episodes and recipes?
“There are so many exciting things happening. This was just a little side project I started as a hobby last year so for it to be gaining the momentum it is is just fantastic. We’ve got some brilliant people coming up and opportunities arising that I hadn’t even dreamed of, so 2018 is shaping up to be a very fun year. Stay tuned!”
Find out more about the podcast and cook the recipes on the Desert Island Dishes website