Celebrity chef James Martin is determined that food lovers should get their just desserts. His campaign includes those modern methods of propaganda - a TV series and a book.

What he's worried about is the loss of a great British eating tradition, the pudding. Not so much the eating as the making.

And he's not talking about Yorkshire pudding - although as a Yorkshireman he's a dab hand at cooking that too - but the course that comes after the main one.

"We're losing that tradition of making puddings like our grandmothers and aunties used to do," says Martin, who attended Scarborough Technical College.

"More people are eating pudding than ever before. If you can get a few more people to make it that would be good. If you make puddings, they're so much better for you.

"Desserts are only unhealthy if they come out of a packet."

His desire to get people making puddings led to his current BBC2 series Sweet Baby James, in which he revisits six different locations from his formative years and cooks some puddings along the way.

Places visited include his old school, where he meets his former cookery teacher for the first time in 17 years, and the restaurant where he had his first head chef's job at the age of 21. In the already-screened opening programme, he goes back to Castle Howard, where his father was manager for many years.

"Castle Howard was like going back to my roots," he says. Young James first rolled up his sleeves, put on an apron and did some cooking when he was just seven in the kitchens at the stately home.

"I used to enjoy what my grandparents cooked. No one ever pushed me in any particular direction, but I thought cooking was a good move for me. I learnt at such a young age and remember such a lot of it. I don't think you appreciate it then as much as you do now."

Cooking in the Castle Howard kitchen kept him out of mischief, although he does own up to skateboarding down the Long Gallery and leaping over expensive statues on a motorbike.

He'd still call himself a Yorkshire cook. "I still have my roots firmly there, although I live in Hampshire," he says. Even preparing banquets down south for hundreds of people, he still shops for meat at a butcher's in Skipton.

Being a celebrity chef, one of the new breed of TV stars, has given him the ability to travel more, he says. Writing a book, James Martin: Desserts, to accompany his TV series, also gets him on the move with a promotional tour that's taken in his old stomping ground of York.

"We were writing the book when we started filming. It was quite a quick turnaround for the book. We did the whole lot in four or five months," he says.

"I've passed on my knowledge as a TV chef. The information has gone further and given me the opportunity to open my own restaurant. It gives you a firm footing before you start off."

His career took off when another celebrity chef, Antony Worrall Thompson, brought him to London to work in the kitchens of 190 Queensgate, followed by dell-Ugo. In 1993, he opened the Hotel du Vin and Bistro in Winchester as head chef.

He was a regular on BBC2's Ready Steady Cook for many years, although he's opted out of that show now and fronts Saturday Kitchen on BBC1.

Two years ago he competed on Strictly Come Dancing, partnering Camilla Dallerup. They came fourth in the celebrity ballroom dancing show.

Ask what the show did for him and he replies: "It lost me two stone".

He found combining cooking in a restaurant and being a TV chef was difficult. "When you work in TV, you can't do that. It's all about the balance, he says.

"Cooking should be enjoyable. Now I'm enjoying cooking, before it was part of my job," he says.

James Martin: Desserts (Quadrille, £20).

Saturday Kitchen: today, BBC1, 10am.

Sweet Baby James: Wednesday, BBC2, 8.30pm.