Culture: Floyd Set to Hang Up His Apron; Is It Really Farewell Keith Floyd? the Celebrated Chef and Bon Viveur Insists That Floyd's India Will Be His Final Television Series. Graham Keal Reports
Byline: Graham Keal
Keith Floyd is looking immaculate, as he always does on these occasions, having arrived at Langan's Brasserie in London to talk about his latest and supposedly last television series, Floyd's India, and to enjoy a good lunch while he's at it.
He looks and behaves like the perfect gent, dressed in a dark grey three-piece suit with pale lemon shirt, trademark paisley bow tie and a spotted silk handkerchief in his breast pocket. The staff greet him warmly - this is one of his favourite restaurants - and he is affable and unfailingly courteous with them while being great company for me and his charming Channel 5 minder.
I mention all this because the standard response when you shamelessly namedrop to friends about lunching with Floyd is 'Was he drunk?'
After a few such remarks I was getting a bit weary, so God knows how he feels after 16 years of it.
'It's really nice when people are welcoming and it happens all over the world,' says Floyd.
'It's not so great on the railway station at 6.30 in the morning and people say 'Where's your wine this morning?' And I have to smile and say 'Oh I've drunk it already.' But, well, it goes with the job.'
He's right to be fatalistic about it. He did, after all, make his bed in his earliest television appearances, when a slurp or six of wine between cookery duties became his indelible trademark. Even if he went teetotal (and he won't do that) his image wouldn't change.
Over lunch he drinks two whiskies and a glass of red house wine along with his roast grouse, followed by fresh raspberries and clotted cream. Hardly excessive.
Keith admits he drank like a fish while making Floyd's India, his new Channel 5 series, but viewers would be surprised by his chosen tipple: 'Mineral water. Gallons and gallons of it - and don't buy it from the vendors because they just refill the bottles. Make sure the bottle has a proper seal on it.'
And with a curry he prefers a traditional lassi, a yoghurt drink that can be sweet, savoury or spicy, or a 'lovely, lovely, lovely' drink of freshly squeezed limes, Indian honey and sparkling water.
Only when the work is done and there's a moment to relax does the discipline dissolve: 'Then it was Indian whisky. Scotch whisky was about eight million pounds a glass. Indian whisky is great but I don't think it should be called whisky because I expect it's made out of rice or something like that. But at the end of a long day, who cares?'
But it seems we're talking not just about the end of a long day but the end of a long career. Floyd, 57, said last year that his Indian series would be his last, and he seems to be sticking to his guns. …