Eighties pop star, Paul Young tells Emma Brady how he seems to be spending more time with chefs than singers. ..
It's an obvious gag, but I daren't ask if Paul Young makes toast when he's working at a north London restaurant, where he cooks his own menu once a month.
But he's come a long way since he fronted Streetband's novelty song Toast in 1978, and after taking part in last year's Hell's Kitchen reality show, under Marco Pierre White's tutelage he emerged as a pretty good cook.
So now he has earned the mantle 'celebrity chef' as a result of a monthly menu residency at Upstairs@N20 in Whetstone, north London, with his own brand of Cajun cuisine.
"I've always enjoyed cooking, but I don't suppose I really took it seriously until I did Hell's Kitchen, which was a great opportunity to work with someone of Marco Pierre White's calibre," said Young.
"I really enjoyed that experience, but I hadn't done much since Hell's Kitchen and was worried I was losing those skills.
"I had been looking to open a place of my own, so when the opportunity to do this came along it seemed perfect. I do enjoy it, they do get me running around but it's good fun."
The 52-year-old, who formed the Q-Tips before going solo in 1982, has had 14 Top 40 singles, including his debut hit Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home) which reached number 1 in 1983.
He played a central role in the Band Aid "choir" for Do They Know It's Christmas and enjoyed chart success in UK and the US into the mid-Nineties.
But, as Young prepares to relive his pop star glories as part of the Here And Now tour, he admits "I do seem to be spending much more time with chefs than musicians, even with the tour and everything. It's weird, but good."
It's hard to believe that Young's debut album No Parlez celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. But if it put people's musical history into perspective, the singer is more than aware of how old it makes him feel.
"You feel old knowing its 25 years old, how do you think I feel? I was in my 20s when I made that record, but I suppose time goes quickly when you're having fun," he said.
The Here and Now tour, which arrives at Birmingham NEC on Saturday, will give 30-somethings, who should know better, a chance to relive their school disco days with a line-up that also includes Rick Astley, Bananarama, ABC, Johnny Hates Jazz and Curiosity Killed The Cat.
"I've done three of these tours but there seems to be more of a buzz, more interest, around this one," added Young. "Unlike most people, I think the Eighties was a good era for music and fashion, so it gives people a chance to dress up and relive their youth, that might be as much the appeal as the acts on the bill."
Young's blue-eyed soul was the antithesis to the grating electronica and cheesey pop that dominated the charts.
He continued: "Of course you can look back at the music of that decade and say it was a bit lightweight, but it was also a time of very great change.
"In that sense I think it will always have the same enduring appeal as the 60s, which was another time of great change that produced memorable music.
"Johnny Hates Jazz never toured back in the day so it will be interesting to see them playing the arenas, and the Bananarama girls are as crazy as ever, one of them gave another a black eye during one of their dance routines. So it should be good fun."
The father-of-two, who lives in north London with his wife Stacey, will also be finding time to take part in the inaugural Sense Vision 5km run in Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, on Sunday, in aid of deafblind charity Sense.
Able-bodied people are being invited to take on the extra challenge of completing the run blindfolded while tethered to a sighted partner.
While keen to support the cause, Young confesses he will not be joining runners in the event. Officially his excuse is the hoary chestnut "I've got to get to Newcastle for the next gig", but he later admits his knees are "knackered".
"I would like to run but my cartilage is shot to pieces, so my knees are knackered, but I do hope everyone taking part has fun on Sunday. "Being 'Paul Young - Pop Star' and 'Paul Young - Chef' leaves very little time for anything else because both involve a lot of travelling, so it's tough to commit to more charities."