SATURDAY Kitchen star James Martin warmed up Victoria Square today as he fired up the barbeque.

The celebrity chef entertained hundreds of fans as the latest big name to take part in the Bolton Food Festival.

So far thousands of people have visited Bolton to watch cooking demonstration and visit the stalls lining the town centre.

And council insiders said they believe this year’s event has already attracted more people than last year, which broke records with 130,000 visitors.

It is the sixth year Yorkshire-born chef James, aged 42, has been to the Food and Drink Festival, and showing the crowds his speciality lamb dish and US-inspired ‘monkey bread’.

He told The Bolton News: “It is great to have the food festival, and this year to have the kids cooking at the new section.

“Teaching children how to cook healthily is a fantastic thing.

“The only one I know that is comparable to the Bolton Food Festival now in Gloucester, where there are 50 to 60,000 people so Bolton is already more than double that.”

James will mark 20 years as a TV chef next year, and said it was his passion for food that was the key to success.

“We’ve got Michael Parkinson on Saturday Kitchen in the next few weeks — I’m not looking forward to interviewing him!” he said.

“The reason I think I’ve been on TV so long is because for me it’s all about the food.

“There are people out there and for them it’s not about the food, it’s about them.

“But for me it’s always been about the food and cooking, I’m very passionate about suppliers and producers and supporting local traders.

“If you’re more about the personality then you might have more success in the short term, but you won’t have the longevity.”