Fred Sirieix is most well known for welcoming nervous daters to Paternoster Chop House on Channel 4’s First Dates and traveling the globe with good friends, Gino D'Acampo and Gordon Ramsey, tasting different cities delicacies. But being surrounded by food isn’t new for Fred. It’s always held a special place in his heart, having grown up in Lomoges, France, where he trained and worked front of house in Michelin-star restaurants.
“Growing up, food was fundamental,” he tells us from his office over Zoom. “We used to gather around the table and my mum and dad, who are excellent cooks, would rustle up a three course meal every single day for lunch and dinner, it was incredible. The dishes would be put on the table just like if you were in a restaurant, then you would have your starter, your main and then after that you’d either have a salad with some lovely French dressing, some cheese and a dessert. It was like this every single day, I kid you not."
As well as tucking into three course meals, something else Fred and his brother used to enjoy after school was a ‘goûter’, which he describes as being a little like afternoon tea, but not as formal. “You’d sit down with a bowl of hot milk or tea, for me it was hot milk and chocolate, and some biscuits before starting your homework,” he says.
His favourite biscuit was, and still to this day, are LU biscuits (who have just launched their new range in the UK), which his mum would keep in a special tin under the stairs. “My favourite was Le Petit Beurre, because you can taste the salty butter in it and it's very rich. Whenever I drive to France before we return to the UK, we’ll always stop in a local supermarket and fill up the boot with goodies and that includes LU biscuits. They never last long enough though, you buy ten, 15 packets and then before you know it it's like where are the biscuits!?”
As well as his love for food, Fred also keeps a watchful eye over singletons looking to find love as the Maître d' on Channel 4’s First Dates. He’s even found love again himself, after announcing his engagement in 2020 to his new partner, who he affectionately calls ‘Fruitcake’. So what would be his top dating tips for singletons still searching for love?
“I think that you have to know what you want, what you're looking for and separate between the wants and the needs, that's very important,” he advises. “Also, to be open, because we may all have a certain kind of person in our head, but I think this is actually a prerequisite for disaster, because you just don't know (in the case of First Dates), who's going to walk through the door.”
Being willing to put in the effort is something else Fred repeats a lot: “Just like everything else in life that you're good at, it’s because you've worked at it, so the perfect match isn't going to land in your lap and you be like 'perfect this is it, we're going to be living happily ever after', it doesn't happen like that, this is not real life. It takes time to know people and it takes time to trust people.”
One thing that Fred thinks prevents people from enjoying the dating process are these “preconceived ideas about what is right and wrong” and “what people do and what they shouldn’t do”.
“When we were doing First Dates I said to this young girl, 'if you meet your match today are you going to kiss him?' and she said 'oh no I'm not that kind of girl'. I was like ‘what do you mean?' and I knew exactly what she meant, but since when and who says because it's a boy you're going to be considered less? What about if the boys kiss you, why shouldn't they be considered in the same way? How this girl got this thought into her head at 16 years old I have no idea, but that, I think, is a barrier for enjoyment.”
"Everything in life that you're good at, it's because you've worked at it, so the perfect match isn't going to land in your lap."
For those who are in relationships though, Fred reassures they’re never always going to be smooth sailing and the importance of communication. ”Relationships are always up and down, they're never perfect. Even when you know and love a person you are constantly learning about them and have to adjust. You've got to make the effort and you've got to be able to talk, even about simple things, like cooking, who's going to do the shopping, intimacy; we all have to work at things and say things we may not be that comfortable saying.”
Date nights are something Fred likes to do every week to keep things exciting in his own relationship: “Whether it's to a local pub or you go for a drink, you don't have to go and spend a fortune out on a meal out. For me, it’s the anticipation that you know you're going for a date, it's the excitement of what's going to happen and because you're all excited in your head prior to that the excitement goes everywhere, it's electrifying.”
Another person Fred definitely loves is his good friend Gino D'Acampo, who recently tweeted how himself and Fred would be doing a show together. Of course we’d all be over the moon if the pair are filming together, but is this true?
“I would be like a politician, I will not deny nor confirm any reports to the contrary,” Fred laughs. “Me and Gino get on very well and have that special bond and connection. What can I say? He just makes me laugh, I find him very naughty.”
For those who do love the famous trio in Gordon, Gino and Fred: Roadtrip on ITV, there is a possibility the three musketeers could be making a comeback: “We're talking about stuff but we all have very different busy schedules, so when we can make the schedule, definitely.”
As our interview draws to an end, we’re keen to know whether Fred has any other exciting projects in the pipeline. “I’ve got loads of plans”, he tells us, “after this i’m off to a meeting to discuss that, so yes there’s quite a few things, but I can’t tell you too much about it, sorry!”
No worries Fred, we’re sure we’ll love whatever you do.
Fred Siriex has teamed up with French biscuit brand LU to mark its launch in the UK. Join his mission to turn the afternoon lull into an afternoon LU and share your afternoon moments with loved ones at #TasteTheLove