Simon Rimmer: TV presenter, chef, risk taker, spender, and new Bake Off presenter?

Sarah Coles
2013 Big Curry campaign and ABF The Soldier's Charity
2013 Big Curry campaign and ABF The Soldier's Charity

Simon Rimmer, presenter of Channel 4's Sunday Brunch, has a history of taking big risks. His first step into the restaurant industry was either incredibly intuitively smart, or a random shot in the dark. In the years since, his appetite for both risk and hard work have if anything increased, and it's paying off.

There are some typical and traditional routes into the restaurant trade: Rimmer didn't take any of these. He was a freelance textile designer in his twenties, who fancied a change, so despite having little experience beyond a stint working in a pub, he hooked up with a French and Politics graduate, and in 1990, the pair bought a traditional vegetarian cafe in West Didsbury.

He reportedly had his eye on working front-of-house, but as the pair didn't have enough money to employ a chef, he took over in the kitchen. It was therefore purely by chance that he became an expert in vegetarian cookery.

He told AOL: "I am a risk taker. There have been times that has paid off and times when it hasn't, and it has made things tough financially, but I don't think you can avoid taking risks."

This willingness to embrace the new has seen Rimmer buy and sell a number of restaurants over the years. He currently still owns Greens, his thriving vegetarian restaurant, as well as Earle, a modern Brasserie in Hale, Cheshire, that he has owned for ten years.

At the age of 53, and with a decade of regular TV presenting under his belt, he could be forgiven for taking his foot off the gas, but he's not interested in slowing down. In the past couple of years, he has increased the pace of new openings. In 2014 he opened The Scene in Dubai and The Elephant in Woolton Village in Liverpool; and this year he has opened the VikingPub and Bakehouse in West Kirkby, and The Liberty Tavern next to the Elephant.

Some might argue that this is similarly risky, but Rimmer sees this as the sensible option. He explains: "Over the last couple of years, because I have been earning more, I have been conscious of the need to plan for the future. I love doing TV but I know that at some point that will end, and when it does it's a big old drop off the cliff financially. I would love to go into Channel 4 and be told I've just been signed up for another ten years for Sunday Brunch, but that's not something I can control, so I have a strategy. I plan to expand my pubs business, so that when the day comes that I'm not doing TV, I have a strong business to rely on."

He has no shortage of commercial interests he runs alongside his TV career. He launched a range of beers in 2013, does one-off cookery courses, and has a number of commercial deals. Recently, he devised and presented three recipes for Groupon, which are available for free via the Groupon website for the next ten days. They are his twist on Britain's favourite dishes, revealed by Groupon's research, including dragon roll sushi, pappardelle pasta with pumpkin ciabatta, ricotta and pancetta and jerk chicken and peach kebabs.

The dishes have been created to draw attention to the website's discounts on eating out, although Rimmer explains that he's a pretty 'cheap date' anyway. He says: "I love a kebab - even a dirty doner kebab after a night out, and if I'm in a greasy spoon then I'm happy to eat there." Although he points out that he won't complain if he's offered the chance to go to a Michelin 3 Star restaurant either.

He likes to enjoy his money, and admits he's firmly a spender rather than a saver. He explains: "I've always worked, ever since I got a part-time job at the age of 14, and I've always seen being able to spend my money as a reward for hard work."

He says he currently works around 29 days in every 31, and while he cannot imagine continuing at such a frenetic pace forever, neither can he imagine stopping. He says: "I'll always work. I can't imagine a day when I'll be happy waking up without an agenda. I might enjoy a lie in on the first day, but by day two I'd be going insane."

And when I suggest he might be even busier when he's approached to present Bake Off for Channel 4, he agrees that he'd be completely fine with that.