Well, hello! We haven’t updated our ‘about us’ since 2016 and quite a lot has happened since then, so here we are! An all about us that reflects who we are as opposed to who we were. As I’m an terrific little gasbag it’s ridiculously long so if you want the summary:
- two gay men who run the blog: James (me, writer, commitment issues, tall) and Paul (him, cook, shortarse, can’t look at a camera)
- blog is about diet food that doesn’t feel like a punishment sprinkled with the lives of the owners
- we take absolutely nothing seriously, swear far more than we ought to and think nothing of putting a rimming reference into a gazpacho recipe – we like to think we’re the antithesis of your average blog
- we went on the telly and it was fun and everything
- we’ve released some books to critical acclaim
- we’ve got two cats (Bowser and Sola), a soon-to-be-arriving dog (Goomba) and live somewhere terribly Northern
- I don’t have a Geordie accent unless I’m angry
- media enquiries, partnerships, tasteful nudes and raunchy videos should all be sent to email@example.com
- reach us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook
twochubbycubs: the blog
twochubbycubs (never Two Chubby Cubs, despite our publishers trying their best) was set up back in 2014 as an antithesis to boring cooking blogs which spend eighteen years telling you about the time they traipsed down to the artisanal market on a bicycle made of spelt to buy fresh tomatoes and a side of smugness. See, we’re different, you get 1,000 words about the time Paul ordered uno tapas in Benidorm or my hot-take on the issues of the moment, delivered four months after they were relevant. 2014 was a bad time for diets: every online blog was doing things with sweetener and eggs that it’s not nice to talk about. Meals served up were overly-salty, watery affairs, presumably from the tears of sadness dropping into them as they bubbled on the hob. In the absence of finding recipes that didn’t taste like diet food, twochubbycubs was born.
Our ethos is simple and sickeningly naff: ‘food to be enjoyed, not endured‘, and although we’ve had a few stumbles since (anyone for black rice jambalaya, or potato dauphinois made with purple potatoes?), we reckon we’ve stuck close to that motto. You’ll rarely find sweeteners in our recipes for example, because there’s simply no place for them in good cooking – a teaspoon of sugar never troubled anyone’s waistline, and it tastes so much better. As we were doing Slimming World at the time, we hung our hat on providing syn values with our recipes, and although we don’t personally follow Slimming World anymore, we still champion it as an easy way to lose weight if you stick to it. We calorie count now, by the way, but mostly in the sense that we make each calorie count by doing the absolute minimum to burn it off. I know, we’re terrible.
The blog grew slowly over the first few years with people responding well to the mixture of good food and, somewhat inexplicably, the stories of two happily (citation needed) married (citation needed) men who blundered around doing very little but having a gay old time of it. At the start I used to write the little tales to push us over the 300 word minimum, now I write because I’m an utter gobshite and my fingers mashing against the greasy prints on our keyboard is the closest I get to meaningful human contact these days. It turns out to run an entertaining blog that all you need is a bewilderingly wide vocabulary, the ability to push four penis references into the tightest of syntax and an innate skill for taking a joke and running it into the ground when leaving it out would always be neater. Neater? I barely knew ‘er! See? It’s that easy. We went from ten readers to over 500,000 followers across our social media streams, a number I still can’t quite get my head around. Still, if it isn’t broke…
…don’t fix it. On that note, we remain hilariously low-tech in terms of the website, though Paul reassures me that at the time of writing (2021) he expects to have our Realplayer recipes ready within weeks. We desperately need to update it, but that seems like altogether too much effort and expense. For now, we will continue as we are, way too much guff before the recipe and no apologies given whatsoever.
twochubbycubs: the TV stuff
One month way back in 2018, we went on holiday to Copenhagen and for the first time in our jolly little lives, we realised that we couldn’t do stuff because we were so fat. I don’t mean seeing my feet but rather going on rides, walking across the city easily (and Copenhagen is as flat as a pricked bladder, for goodness sake) or pick up randoms in the gay bars. You can imagine which one of those three scenarios hurt me most, can’t you? When we got back we realised we needed to do something, and in a serendipitous piece of timing, my mate sent me a flier for a new show by Davina McCall called This Time Next Year. Here you pledged to do something over the course of a year in the aim of a shock reveal and we elected to lose five stone each. After a call with the producers that was doubled to ten stone, we filmed all of our ‘before’ bits and over the course of the year, lost almost ten stone each between us. The whole process was terribly fun and I realise now that I’ve never done a blog article on the full process, so when I do, I’ll circle back and update this.
The outpouring of love we received was absolutely terrific and I can’t help but hold myself and the sight of me half-naked on a doctor’s table, anxious because I had a pair of scratty George briefs on and knew there was a hole where my bollocks would peep out, as fully responsible. The show thrust us a degree more into the public eye and on the back of that, came the books. More on that in the next part.
I’ve genuinely only watched that back about two times in my life. But in case you’re wondering, our antique penny-farthing restoration business is coming along quicksticks.
We’ve been on telly twice more – one was on Save Money Lose Weight with that doctor who I’d demand a prostate examination from even if I went in with an ingrown toenail and the other being James Martin’s Saturday Kitchen. On Save Money Lose Weight a lovely chap called Victor was encouraged to follow our recipes to drop some weight and replace the takeaways he was having. He did just that and lost an incredible amount of weight (I think two stone in a month) which, not gonna lie, was a bloody relief given we had no idea about the show. We came third best overall diet in the entire series, with only two fad diets beating us – one with vinegar, one with what honestly looked like a teaspoon of spunk for dinner. I’ve since bankrupted the latter company by treating it like a Dominos.
James Martin was great fun. Another one for a longer entry, if he agrees to it. We went on as guests to promote the book: I chattered endlessly and Paul made enough salad for eight people served in a bowl big enough for two. The Internet was terribly mean, but by god we had fun!
We’ve done all sorts of radio interviews for good measure, and bloody love ‘owt like that. Paul always says he hates the media side of things but you know what, get him slapped in a make-up chair and the man comes alive.
twochubbycubs: the books
On the back of the TV show we were contacted by a publisher or two who wanted to turn our blogs into books. We turned them down when they started umming and aahing about the content and our tone. Luckily, a plucky young love kept on at us and once I realised they also happened to be Stephen King’s publisher, we signed up. A year and a half later, we have:
- our very first cookbook of 100 tried and tested slimming recipes – the ones we used to lose all the weight on This Time Next Year – order yours here
- our second cookbook of 100 more amazing slimming recipes that are designed to save you time – click here to order
- our beautifully illustrated planner to assist with losing weight – you can order it here
Quite honestly, it’s absolutely and utterly surreal. The feeling of walking into Tesco to pick up some groceries and seeing your own work right there on the shelves never truly feels real. The first book sold way, way, way better than anyone expected and we had no idea if the second would do the same. It has. Both became Sunday-Times Bestsellers. Both have led to book signings and interviews and all that, but more excitingly to us, we’ve got a combined 7,500 5* reviews across them both. People pay us the highest compliments by saying the books aren’t like all those other cookbooks – they’re funny, the meals work and they – as we always wanted – reflect us perfectly. If you have bought one of our books, we can’t honestly thank you enough. It’s humbling, beautiful and exciting all at once, and if everything stopped right now, I’d be the happiest little bee for all that we’ve accomplished.
Before we get to all the words, here’s a collage of the cruel ravages of time. I’m the one with the beard, and his name is Paul.
twochubbycubs: James (the writer)
We have experimented with each writing the other’s bio, but frankly, Paul doesn’t put the same level of sass into mine that I desire and so, I’m writing my own. My name is James, I’m 35, six foot two and described, entirely by my own making, as a walking B-Side Pet Shop Boys lyric. Growing up I wanted to be a pilot (but was scared of flying and came from a village where they still scream at the metal dragons when they fly over), a vet (until I put my hand up a sheep’s vagina, though I must stress it was a consensual and monitored situation: I was helping a friend deliver a lamb), an actor (still keeping that one in the bank) and a writer. I’ve always wanted to write ever since a teacher back in middle school graded my mock English Language SATS at a never-before-seen-in-our-school grade 8 – the sense of pride I felt never left me, though I’ll confess to Ms Westgarth right now that the piece of fiction I submitted was almost a word for word recap of The X-Files Movie. It feels good to get that off my chest.
My favourite colour is blue (eyes, humour and the lips of my lovers), my favourite band is Muse (too many angsty teenage break-ups involved me sniffling into my long hair to the sounds of Unintended), I’m submechanophobic, mildly trypophobic and a dreadful hypochondriac. I hold my breath when I get in a lift to see if I can make it all the way to my desired floor without passing out. I’m a firm believer in being open about my mental health and long-time readers will know that for all the mettle in my writing, if I’m struggling, I’ll talk about it, because not enough people do. I have four regrets in life with only one that I’ll discuss here: I spent far too much of my life worrying what people think of me. If I could spread one message it would be one of loving yourself, and not in the masturbatory way – though that’s just marvellous too. My confidence now is a relatively new thing and stems entirely from realising that I genuinely don’t give a fuck what the average person in the street thinks I look like, an epiphany that came too late to stop me turning down all sorts of fun situations, both debauched and wholesome. If I could speak to my younger self it would only be to reassure him that he wasn’t a gargoyle and to encourage him to cut his hair short a bit sooner. Nowadays, although admittedly I am prone to periods of introspection when the right person says the wrong thing, I just don’t care. Try it – focus only on those that matter.
Heavy stuff, but then, so am I – I’ve battled with my weight all my life, alternating between one extreme to the other as a hairy Schrödinger’s Fat. When I’m skinny I miss my belly and when I’m fat I miss my toes. At the time of writing I’m back at the stage where you’d deliberate over getting into a two-man tent with me, but I’m happy enough with that. I’m rarely cold and I’m told my gently bobbing boobs are wonderful to sleep upon, plus, I’m now at the age where I can grow a beard, get a paw-print tattoo and market myself as a bear in the gay world. That’s where the cubs part of twochubbycubs is from, by the way – a cub is a young, hairy gay bloke.
I suppose, given I’m now handing over to Paul for his bit, a little about the other, better half of me. I rag Paul out something terrible on here, always making jibes about his weight or his laziness or his inability to order food without embarrassing himself or his insistence on voiding his bowels whenever we go anywhere or his silly rollerskate car or the fact he owns eighteen lumberjack shirts of varying shades of green and blue or the terrifying truth that his mother looks like Zelda from Terrahawks eight months into a meth addiction or the fact he still can’t tie his laces properly and ducks them into the side of his shoes or even that he literally only listens to Tracy Chapman or the small detail of his whistling nose when he sleeps or, whilst we’re here, the fact he chuckles to himself in deep slumber whenever he breaks wind and let’s not forget whilst we’re on a roll the slight vexatiousness of his incapability of making a decision and for good measure can we please talk about the fact he will nod agreement to anything I say and then say what afterwards the same way my nana used to or even the little way he gets himself literally addicted to Sinex Micromist leaving our bedside table awash with camphoric vapour, but I truly can’t imagine a life without him. He rolls (usually buttered) with all my verbal punches and not a single day goes by without him making me laugh. He’s a good egg, both metaphorically and physically, though I take pains not to let any of you know lest you steal him away.
twochubbycubs: Paul (the cook)
Oh bloody hell, my go. Okay, well, I’m Paul – 34, five foot something and I guess you could describe me as the brains, body and face of the blog. I’m much more a ‘behind the scenes’ kind of guy so as much as you might see James pouting away on the feed, I’m lolloping around there somewhere, likely scraping out the crispy bits from the bottom of the Actifry and grinding multivitamins into his tea. As you’ve probably heard us say loads of times I’m the ‘cook’ and do most of the ‘recipe development’ if we’re going to go all fancy-dan about it. I make the stuff, then James goes on and makes everything look pretty, and serves it all directly into your brain. I think it’s a perfect partnership that works amazingly well, even if I do spend 20% of my time trying to bore a hole into the back of James’ head with my eyes for not using bin liners.
I grew up in a boring little village practically in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by sugar beet and burning pig carcasses. Growing up I wanted to be a wrestling team’s ‘relief’ but Connexions didn’t have a leaflet for that, so instead I went with my second choice to work doing the lights for travelling concerts. Of course, being me and scatty and mashed on 20/20 I ended up doing fairly tedious admin jobs until I found a job I actually love doing. Favourite colour? Green. Favourite singer is of course my Tracy Chapman. Voice of angel and the only woman I’d turn for.
As you may be able to tell I’m really quite shy so talking about myself doesn’t come easily. I work full-time in a hospital doing all sorts of things that are tremendous fun but will make your eyes glaze over if I explained it to you. All you need to know is that I look just as dumpy in a pair of polyester scrubs as I do in real life. Imagine an apple crumble poured into a sandwich bag. I suppose I’m a bit more stoic and practically-minded than James – I tend to just get on with things whereas he’ll dream up ideas. Again, together, I reckon we make it work really well. We’re excited to see where twochubbycubs go from here. It’s amazing but a weird feeling to think that just a few years ago we were pulling together these blog posts to share with you all – taking photos on an old iPad in our shitty beige kitchen on our black Wilkos dinner plates. Some of our early stuff makes me cringe so hard my urethra burns, but then going through them it’s brilliant to see how we developed and grew into what we are now. It’s like an html version of marking your kids height on a doorframe.
We might not be the biggest or the best, but damn it, I reckon we do alright – and if you’re reading this I hope you do too! I started all of this not being a confident cook at all – I could barely cook a tin of beans – but just gradually, over time, the more I did the basic things like chopping an onion (without lopping off a fingertip) and searing some beef (without it becoming cremated) we got a bit better and a bit better. To think that we’ve now got cookbooks is something I NEVER would have thought would happen. But here we are! Cooking is something that had never really been of any interest to me and most definitely wasn’t anything that came naturally. The blog was borne out of James’ need to write (and my need for him to be away from under my feet) so to share the labour I’d agree to at least attempt to cook, while he wrote the spiel around it and so the cookery part was pure necessity. Having twochubbycubs means that I’ve been able to learn, entirely from scratch, a brand new skill, and I’m so grateful for it. I’m hoping I get to also grow a heaving bosom like wor Nigella.
Unlike James I’ve been fat all of my life, never really venturing outside of the ‘obese’ category until recently when we went on This Time Next Year. After always being a big boy I find it really difficult to get out of the mindset and bad habits. Having this blog and all of our various challenges over the years has allowed me to find a good routine that works for me, and although I’m not perfect at sticking to it I’m getting better. At the very least, I know exactly what *doesn’t* work for me which is about half the battle. A combination of lockdown, long COVID, living in a hotel and just general ennui means I’ve fallen off the wagon quite a bit, but I’m working back to get to where I was. Learning where you go wrong and getting back on track is all part of the process.
So, yes. That’s me. You won’t see or hear much of me but I am here, beavering away! You’ve got a much better bit of eye candy in James anyway so enjoy it as much as I do. He’s got a lovely arse. For all that we bicker sometimes he’s the cherry to my Lambrini and I couldn’t be without him and twochubbycubs just wouldn’t be here without him and his genius ideas, and actually being the one that gets things from our hob out there to you, which he does almost single-handedly. And for that, I have now almost forgiven him for giving me the clap on our first date.
Still haven’t got that dog, mind.
If you have any questions, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org where we will look at them, promise to reply immediately and then get distracted by a shiny piece of foil. But we try our best!