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September 28, 2021 21 mins

On this week’s episode, Rogers hosts fashion designer and entrepreneur Victoria Beckham who reveals the secret use of her mother’s oven, what the Spice Girls ate, and her first taste of Cristal Champagne on signing a record deal.


For more than 30 years The River Cafe in London, has been the home-from-home of artists, architects, designers, actors, collectors, writers, activists, and politicians. Michael Caine, Glenn Close, JJ Abrams, Steve McQueen, Victoria and David Beckham, and Lily Allen, are just some of the people who love to call The River Cafe home.


On Ruthie's Table 4, Rogers sits down with her customers—who have become friends—to talk about food memories. Table 4 explores how food impacts every aspect of our lives. “Foods is politics, food is cultural, food is how you express love, food is about your heritage, it defines who you and who you want to be,” says Rogers.


Each week, Rogers invites her guest to reminisce about family suppers and first dates, what they cook, how they eat when performing, the restaurants they choose, and what food they seek when they need comfort. And to punctuate each episode of Table 4, guests such as Ralph Fiennes, Emily Blunt and Alfonso Cuarón, read their favourite recipe from one of the best-selling River Cafe cookbooks. 


Table 4 itself, is situated near The River Cafe’s open kitchen, close to the bright pink wood-fired oven and next to the glossy yellow pass, where Ruthie oversees the restaurant. You are invited to take a seat at this intimate table and join the conversation.


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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to River Cafe Table for a production of I
Heart Radio and Adam I Studios. Briefly, here's a story
my mother. You know what she uses her oven for?
Let me guess by her stockings. No, she used it
as a filing cabinet and a filing cabinet. Yeah, if

he didn't go in the microwave. Mrs Adams wasn't interested
in it. But this was the eighties and I was
growing up and it's all about microwaveable food and all
being super super quick. So you know, as I began
my life in the Spice Girls, we were eating out
a lot, going to lovely restaurants, and that was something
really quite new. A fashion designer, cosmetics entrepreneur, dancer, businesswoman,

a mother for a singer. There are a few women
who have seven or more adjectives attached to their name,
and one of them is Victoria Beckham. When Victoria comes
to the River Cafe, there's no fuss or privilege. She
comes in with just her family, her close friends and

her colleagues. She arrives early so she is there to
greet them, and the quiet time before they come is
spent discussing with us what is on the menu, how
it is prepared, and what she would like to order food,
how it affects our performance, our health and happiness, and

how it is shared is important to Victoria Beckham, and
Victoria Beckham is important to us. You are well. I mean,
maybe I'll make more fuss when I come the next
time if I'm that easy. You can, you can do
whatever you want, but you are. And also I do
think that there's other people, but very few, who always

arrive before their guests arrive. And I think it's a
real act of kindness. It shows that you're kind of
putting your time this side so that you'll be there
to greet them. It's very very nice. I like it. Well,
I'm not sure if it's an act of kindness or
if it's just that we're a desperate to leave the
house and have a night on our own, or be

that we're just super excited to get here because we
adore the experience of coming and the food is always incredible,
and the wine is is wonderful and the people watching
is just everything good. Well, we're also here to listen
to you read the recipe that you've chosen for today. Okay,
so my recipe is roasted sea bass. So the ingredients

are two kilograms of sea bass, scaled and cleaned, a
hundred gram fennel seeds, two sliced lemons, a few parsley stalks,
two fennel bulbs trimmed and sliced, the juice of one lemon,
five tablespoons of olive oil, and seventy five million liters

of white wine. So you preheat the oven to a
hundred and ninety degrees centigrade, preheat the grill, put half
of the fennel seeds inside the cavity of the fish,
and season generously. Brush the skin with a little olive
oil and grill for about five to six minutes on
each side until lightly charred. Place half the lemon, slices, parsley, fennel,

and the remaining fennel seeds in a roasting tin. Lay
the fish on top and cover with the remaining lemon, parsley,
and fennel. Pour over the lemon, juice, olive oil and wine,
and bake for about thirty minutes, or until the flesh
is firm to the touch. Serve either hot or cold
with south of Verdi So Victoria. Of all the recipes

that we haven are books and what you eat in
the River Cafe? Why did you choose sea bus. I'm
a very fussy eater. I like things to be cooked
in a very simple way. I don't like oils and
butters and sauces. So to most restaurants, I'm probably the
worst nightmare. But you guys are always so accommodating and

always cook the food exactly how I like it, very simple,
very clean, incredibly fresh and just perfect. And then you know,
I love some steam vegetables on the side, some bald
stomic vinegar, and then to season myself. Did you come
to this way of eating or did your parents cook
that way? Did you grow up with very healthy, clean food?

Oh gosh, no, quite the opposite. You know. I've always
been to nice places with my parents and been taken
on lovely holidays, but I'd never been to the level
of restaurant I was going to when I was with
the Spice Girls, and it was all very exciting, and
very quickly I came to the conclusion that unless I
adapted a very healthy way of eating, I would just
be inclined to sit there and eat the entire contents

of the bread basket, which when you're eating out regularly
is probably not the healthiest, not when you're on tour
and you're expecting so much from your body. So I
just decided from that point to really try and eat
in a clean way. Lots of fresh vegetables, lots of fish.
I don't have any dairy at all. I haven't eaten
red meat since I was about seven years old. Before

you even go to that, I'd love to know if
your mother, do you think that she put her filing
in the oven or didn't use the oven because she
was doing other things? Did she think cooking was just
something she had to do rather than wanted to do?
Do you think do you know she was always a
great mom and a great wife, and she was always
busy doing something, But you know, cooking was never really
her thing. It's never really her passion, if you like,

if she found her much better abuse of her of
her oven and so rather myself. But did she do
the cooking or did you have somebody else? No? No,
she she did do the cooking. But you know, this
was when I was younger. This was, you know, when
it was all about microwaveable Do you know it was
a real thing. I remember when I was growing up

so many adverts on the television. It was all about
food that you could put in the microwave, fast, about
hurt and get out of the kitchen. Being seven and vegetarian.
Do you remember what made that happen? I do? I do.
I was at school and I was in a home
economics lesson and they were telling us about what was

I thing. I think it was either hamburgers or sausages
or something like that, and I was absolutely horrified and
haven't eaten me since that day. And I have to say,
I mean, I don't miss it. I eat lots of
fish and I have a very very healthy way of eating.
But I haven't touched me since then. The children do,
and David does. And it's not something that I did

for any reason other than the fact that I just
went off of it when I learned what was in it.
The shows are kind of determination of a child at
that age to do that. It's a principle, it's a
kind of view. So you must have been strong. I
mean I am, and the way that i'm I'm very
very disciplined, and I think you know, even Golden Ramsey,

who's a very good friend of ours, has said he's
never known anybody be as disciplined about the way that
they eat, you know, because for me, it's just it's
who I am. I expect a lot from from myself,
being you know, a working mom for children, and I
work out a lot, and I eat very very healthily.
That's just who I am. And it's just, you know,

I'm not the most exciting eater. I like to have
a drink with my dinner, and then I can become
a very good dinner guest. I'm sure you don't need
the drink to make you a good dinner dress else.
But I think that it is interesting to hear that
trajectory as well, that you you know, and the discipline,
so you don't because we've all been on diet and

we all know what it's like to deny ourselves food.
And I know that you know when you hold back
sometimes on food, you hold back sometimes on fun or conversation.
But that I think it your description of your discipline
rings true. I absolutely don't deny myself anything. You know,
if I wanted something, I have it, you know, I

just it's just who I am. You know, I had
this healthy way of eating that works for me when
I was growing up. I used to have really bad
skin as well, and I went to see numerous dermatologists
over the years, and no one could ever figure out
what was wrong with my skin where I had such terrible,
terrible skin. And again that all just cleared up when

I started eating in this very clean, healthy way as well.
And also I feel that I have great energy, and
so I just figured out, you know, and I'm happy
the way that they are happy. And what about when

you were growing up? Where would you eat? Would your
family all eat together? Did you have family meals? Did
you sit in a living room or in the kitchen
or the dining room? What were meals at the Adams house?
But we always sat together and we eat in the kitchen.
You know, meal time has always been important. It's an
important time when when you're you know, when you're together
reflecting on your day. And that's something that we do

even now, you know, unless my myself or David are
actually traveling, we always make sure that we are home
at the same time and that the kids are always there,
and that's the time when we eat together and we
discussed our days. And I think it's very important. And
that's how it was when we were growing up. You know,
I was always starting in and out and dancing lessons

and singing lessons. You know, my mom was a taxi
driver when I was younger, literally running myself and my
brother and sister around all the activities. You know, my
mom was a real hands on mom. That's probably part
of the reason why she loved the microwave meals because
she was always so busy driving us around and then
sitting down to the meal. So I think whether the
meal comes from the microwave or or from the oven,

or from you brought in the actually the idea that
you were sit around the table and talk. My memories
of my people always asked me as a chef, you
know what did my mother cook? And she was a
good she just simple cook. But she was a teacher
so she would come back from work. But what I
remember as a conversation, you know, I remember the idea
that we got around that we had talk around the table,

you know, politics or the day, what you did during
the day and the time to do that. You know,
did you go out to restaurants with your parents? Would
be special occasion restaurants or would you go up My
mom and dad used to love you know, on a
Friday night, it was probably the treat to go to
the local Indian restaurant. You know, my mom and dad
loved Indian food, they loved Chinese food and so and

we traveled quite a lot, so we was always very
lucky to go on nice holidays and experience different kinds
of foods. You know, we go to Spain most summers.
My parents at a house in Spain, so we were
lucky enough to be able to go there and and
have you know, foreign holiday. Every year. We go to Press.
We were lucky enough to go to America a couple

of times. Actually, we laughed a lot and we had
some great experiences together. And it's nice now that I
can do that with my parents, you know, me and
the kids and David love to take my mom and
dad out. You know, it's it's a real treat. Family
time is so so important something that we cherish. I
was quite touched when you said that the pleasure that

you gave from actually being able to take out your parents,
because there is that moment you as you're sort of
growing up, when you realize that you can actually, after
years and years of them taking care of you, that
you can take care of them, and so is that
something that you associate also with taking them out to restaurants?
And yeah, because as you said, you know, if you

have three children, you know it's expensive to go out
and eat and go on holiday. And I think that
my parents they were wonderful, wonderful parents. So now the
fact that we can treat them, we can take them
on holiday, and we can take them to lovely restaurants
really means a lot. That's something that me and David
really do enjoy with his parents as well. Yeah, yeah, yeah,

both sides are very very close. Going back into the
trajectory of your childhood and teenage years, how old are
you when you left home? So I did my GTSC.
So I was sixteen and I moved to Epsom in Surrey.
I wanted to be a dancer and a singer. I

wanted to go into musical theater actually, and I took
a place at Lane Theater Rance in Epsom in Surrey.
So I was nervous about that and I didn't enjoy
that part of it. I was always a little bit
I wouldn't say socially awkward, but I was always quite
shy when I was a child and as I was
growing up. I loved the dancing and the singing. But

again I never really fitted in that well. I don't
think I really knew who I was. It wasn't until
I met the Spice Girls and kind of accepted who
I was, and they brought me out of my shell.
If you like that, I really became who I am.
Now do you remember what you ate when you were
at Oh gosh, yes, I used to eat super noodles.

I mean very very student style super noodles that you
put in there. We go again, the microwa. But yes,
when I was at college, I would eat super noodles.
I would have frosties, remember the series Frosties, bowls and
bowls of frosties with skimmed milk. And I used to
eat those yogurts, you know, those muller like when you

peel the corner off and you dump a whole load
of sugary you know what into it. Yeah, I used
to eat a lot of it. But you know, this
was the nineties when I feel that it was sort
of rammed down our throats. You know, fat free, fat free,
fat free. So we used to eat a lot of
fat free food without realizing how much sugar we were eating,

and I think that that probably didn't help my skin.
Back in the day, you know, there was so much
attention on eating fats free, and now what we know
is a complete opposite. Actually, I mean, my diet now
consists of a lot of healthy fats. I mean numerous avocados,
for example, and seeds and nuts. And now we know
that fats are good, good fats. But back in the day,

we were terrified of them. It's crazy. And like I said,
I think that that probably really didn't help my skin
as I was growing up, but we didn't realize it
then when you joined the spice Fields, what was food
like there? Well, you know, I mean it was so

much fun. But again, you know, we lived in a
house together and we ate like students. You know. I
think I was probably still on the frosties and the
super noodles and all those kinds of all those kinds
of things, sharing the food and fighting over the food
that was in the fridge, like all kind of students do.
And when I interviewed Paul mccurrently last week, he was
describing that was a very touching story about going with

John Lennon to Paris, for the first time they ever
had a glass of wine, because he grew up in
Liverpool never had had wine. But he said that there
was a point when George Martin took them to a
restaurant called their Uh in London, which was a kind
of a microt fancy French restaurant, and then he knew
what good food and good wine was. Was there a

moment when you were as a measure of your success,
when you realized what food could be. Got absolutely when
we signed our record deal with Virgin Records, they took
us too lovely restaurants and I remember actually when we
signed our record deal, you know, they opened a bottle
of Christal champagne. And again this was the nineties, and

it was like, wow, that champagne. How much? I mean,
this was just insanity but so much fun and not
something that any of us had experienced. And I was
the posh one and I came from a lovely, lovely family.
It wasn't as paras people thought. I'd never had any
anything like that in my life, and it was incredibly

luxurious and we were going to wonderful restaurants and eating
wonderful food, um and experience that I'll never forget, not
just in England, but you know, we traveled all around
the world. You know, we were we were selling records
in America, in in Japan, we spent time in China.
We traveled the whole world, and I feel so blessed

that I visited the most incredible restaurants in the world.
Would you eat afore a show or would you after it?
Again a question I asked people about actors. Do you
eat for them if you're doing a mat name, would
you have lunch before breakfast? It was their discipline and
rigor to the way you ate and performed. I mean,

not with us, but then you know, we we kind
of just did our own thing, Ruthie. You know, I
mean I remember once they introduced us to a choreographer
and we were like, what do you mean you're going
to tell us what to do? Just going to get
on stage and we're just going to jiggle around and
we're just going to do our own thing. So, you know, yeah,
we ate before the show, we ate during the show,

and we ate off the show. During the show that
in the middle of quick changes, you know, I mean,
Melanie c was the most disciplined for sure, but not
so much. I'm much more disciplined now than I was then.
You know, I was twenty years old and we were
on the road and we were having fun, um, you know,

and I was so much more naive than I am now,
nive and and just ready to just as you say,
have fun and not be not be held back by
any you know, but also with a huge rigor. I mean,
you put on those shows. You were not the twenty
year old just you know, having fun. You were working
a lot of work. We were working work, Yeah, we were.

We were working really we were working really really hard,
and we did have a lot of fun we did.
And then in the trajectory again of food and work
and discipline and rigor, you started a business, a business
of fashion and fashion and food and employing people is

something major, isn't it? Because you find the eating and
the food and the discipline and the rigor of being
an entertainer. Did that also go into being a businesswoman? Yeah,
you know, at that point then I did start to
become more conscious of what I was eating because I
knew that I was sort of demanding a lot from myself,

and so I was much more disciplined then because you know,
like I said, I'd go into the stadium in a
pencil skirt and blouse and carrying a bark in And
then I walked into the dressing room and put on
you know, a PBC cat suit if you like. And
then I was a spice girl at night. And I
knew that I was demanding a lot from myself. And
so therefore I think, you know, I'm a I'm a

big believer of if it's not just what you wear
and what you put on your skin, obviously, I mean
it's about what you eat and being healthy as well.
And when you have a show, when you have the
new finish, do you celebrate, do you go and have food,
you go out to dinner, do you have food brought in?
Or do you just everybody kind of so exhausted, you know,

it depends. It depends. I mean, actually, after my last show,
I came here actually with a few of my team
members and my mom and dad and my friend and
my sister. So we actually came here to River Cafe
to celebrate. But I'm looking forward to I'm looking forward
to the next show and business getting back on track.
Nothing more. Well, we're in the process of working on

a pre collection at the moment um, and then we'll
have our main collection in September. But I'm looking forward
to things getting back to normal because I think socializing
and and eating and um and drinking with friends and
colleagues is so so important in my Victoria. Yeah, it's

been it's been a hell of a year, right, Yeah,
And so we think about you know, we've talked about
food and family and food and love and your parents
and exposure to new new places and travel. Food also
can give us comfort. And so my last question to
you on this very flusterry River Cafe day is to

ask you what is your comfort food? And this is
where I sound even more boring in the food department.
You're not boring in the food department. You're interesting in
the food. Okay, what do I like? You know? I
like whole grained toast with salt on it? Good? Is
that really boring? You know? Is that carby thing? Isn't it?

Is that carbohydrate that makes you feel comforted? And I
love salt. I'm a slavery person is supposed to a
sweet person? Yeah? I think that sounds like a very
good comfort food. And it's been a very very lovely
conversation thank you, thank you so much, thank you. It's great.

Is this for me? That's nice? What is it? I
think it might be fall Contina very nice. Is that
what you're having? There? We go? I am both having nice.
Let's go in the afternoon is my kind of day.
To visit the online shop of the River Cafe. Go

to shop the River Cafe dot co dot uk. River
Cafe Table four is a production of I Heart Radio
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