The first thing you see when you get off the commuter train in Mount Kisco, N.Y., is the Union Jack. Facing the station is a shop bedecked with several versions of the British flag, selling Cadbury chocolate and “Abbey Road” puzzles.
But that’s not the only thing British in this upstate hamlet. A leafy and serene 10-minute drive from this outpost of Britannia brings one to the estate of the Peltz family, where their newest member, Brooklyn Peltz Beckham, is making fish and chips for lunch.
“Some Americans find English food kind of gross, which I don’t understand,” says Peltz Beckham, standing in the kitchen of a cottage on the spacious property. He pours a decent splash of IPA into the batter in which he’ll be coating cod fillets, and sneaks a sip himself. “But I cook fish and chips and pie and mash for my American friends, and at the end they’re like, ‘OK, I understand.’”
Peltz Beckham, 23, is the eldest son of Britain’s other royal family, football legend David Beckham and Spice Girl-turned-fashion designer Victoria Beck ham; in April in Palm Beach, he married the “Transformers: Age of Extinction” actor then known as Nicola Peltz, daughter of billionaire investor Nelson Peltz. (British Vogue reported they served burgers from Wendy’s at the end of the night; Peltz is the biggest investor in the fastfood chain.) Like many a restless prince before him, Peltz Beckham needed a way to set himself apart from Mum and Dad — a path that, for him, ran through the kitchen. He prefers the term “cook” to “chef”: “I’m almost 100% self-taught,” he says. “Ever since the start of quarantine, I’ve done it every single day, and it’s the one thing I’ve found that takes my mind off of anything I’m thinking about.”
It’s given him more to think about too — Peltz Beckham is at the start of his media career. Last year, he began recording time-lapse videos of himself making dishes like pesto pasta, beef Wellington and steak quesadillas and posting them to his Instagram, where he has some 14 million followers. Attention followed, with the neophyte cook preparing food on television for Hoda Kotb and James Corden. His father appeared on the account, making crab risotto; for Valentine’s Day this year, Brooklyn and Nicola baked heart-shaped pizzas in a Vogue video that’s been viewed more than 3 million times.
Together, the two are a solid unit, one with its own rhythms. “The thing that’s great about us,” says Nicola, reached by phone, “is that we don’t need anything from each other. We’re just so in love. There’s nothing I need from him or he needs from me.” Both are homebodies, with a willingness to open up their lives enough to let fans see inside. “I’ve always said to my wife, we should actually do a reality TV show, because she’s so funny,” Peltz Beckham says. “And we take the piss out of each other all the time. She sometimes doesn’t get my English humor.” Their joint name was intended as a nod to their partnership, and as a way of turning the page. “We had this idea — we kind of combined our last names. I was just like, oh, we could start a new thing, and it’ll be so cool to have our own kids and have little Peltz Beckhams running around.”
When Peltz Beckham was born, his father was 23 — the same age he is now. And he’s in a hurry himself. “I keep saying to my wife, I can’t wait to be a dad,” he says. “I’m ready to have kids, but I always tell my wife, whenever you want.”
Parenthood is a topic of ongoing conversation, with Brooklyn frequently asking Nicola whether she thinks their first child will be a boy or a girl. (“She thinks we’re going to have a boy first.”) Nicola says, “We don’t plan on having kids anytime in the next year. But we would love to have a big family one day — we would love to have some of our own, and we would love to adopt.”
It makes sense that, given his eagerness for fatherhood, this child of superstars has chosen cooking as his passion: Little is closer to the heart of family life than gathering around the table to eat. But what began as a lark and a diversion in a more locked-down moment, as Peltz Beckham leaned into making meals for the Peltzes during early COVID in Florida, has become a strategic endeavor. Peltz Beckham is low-key — his videos are self-shot on an iPhone, and today he’s puttering around in a T-shirt, shorts that reveal a “1999” tattoo on his right thigh and bare feet. But his casual vibe belies the big plans he has for himself. He makes a point of including the labels of brands he’s using in videos, even though they aren’t sponsors, because “I really want to work with these people.” His longer-term dreams are even more entrepreneurial, and he hopes to use television to ensconce himself in the food world.
“I would love to have my own pub. I would love to have my own sauces, knives, pots and pans,” Peltz Beckham says. “Not like a chef — I’m always going to be learning about cooking.
“I want to have so many TV shows, and hopefully one day open up a pub in L.A., because L.A. needs a pub.” It could be in Beverly Hills or Brentwood, where he could serve “a healthier version of comfort food”; perhaps the pub itself could be the subject of a TV show, he muses. And while he won’t share specifics, he’s planning to launch a branded product “in the sauce department” later this year.
Peltz Beckham spends much of his time in Los Angeles now, but he grew up in rural Oxfordshire, where he visited the chip shop with his grandparents and learned to drive manual in a Land Rover Defender. He misses the food-and-drink culture of the English village. Growing up, he says, “it was obviously a Sunday roast every Sunday, of course — sit down, no phones, no telly.” (He keeps up the tradition each week by making roast chicken, stuffing and Yorkshire pudding; “It’s like Thanksgiving every Sunday.”) On a recent return visit to the U.K., Peltz Beckham brought his wife to The Cow in Notting Hill and had bangers and mash: “I love going in, turning my phone off and just starting a random conversation.”
The pub is an equalizing space, particularly for a young man whose name precedes him. Peltz Beckham has met predictable criticism online, especially from the more astringent of the British newspapers, with the Daily Mail needling him for appearing on Corden’s late-night show earlier this year “despite having no professional training as a chef and boasting no personal claim to fame beyond his parents’ prominence.”
“I always wish them well, the haters,” he says. “I’m just doing what I love doing, staying healthy, being happy, and that’s what it is. I hope they like my next video.” He has one of those smiles that reminds you that genealogy is real: His father’s geniality and his mother’s sly sarcasm collide. I’m not alone in feeling a sort of intimate connection to the Beckham family after decades of reading stories, however spurious, about them; on the day we meet, gossip pages across the internet are ablaze that his wife is feuding with her famous mother-in-law. Nicola tells me that she thinks the rumors began when she didn’t wear a Victoria Beckham-designed wedding gown, opting for Valentino couture: “I was going to and I really wanted to, and then a few months down the line, she realized that her atelier couldn’t do it, so then I had to pick another dress. She didn’t say you can’t wear it; I didn’t say I didn’t want to wear it. That’s where it started, and then they ran with that.” Her husband is more circumspect: “I’ve learned they’re always going to try to write stuff like that. They’re always going to try and put people down. But everyone gets along, which is good.”
By this point, Peltz Beckham has left the kitchen and joined me at a small table in the living room, where we’re washing down his fish and chips with Evian. The crust is crunchy and the fish is well done, with a homemade tartar sauce adding a welcome sour note. This was a successful second attempt; on consideration, two rarer fillets he’d set out to rest end up in the trash. “I always like it a little more cooked,” he says, “more crispy.” Peltz Beckham is a fairly adventurous eater, though he does not like olives, and “I used to hate truffle, being a kid.”
Cooking, as a venture, arrived in Peltz Beckham’s life after initial pursuits didn’t quite connect. He walked away from soccer at 16 after being released from the Arsenal club as a youth prospect. “My dad wasn’t sad, because he was like, I just want you to be happy. But of course I was sad. It was my whole life since I was literally 2.” (His brother Romeo Beckham plays for Inter Miami II, a soccer club owned by their father.) In choosing not to pursue a career in the sport, Peltz Beckham was reckoning with the reality of the pressures his name brought on: “To try and live up to what my dad did in football, I was just like, that’s going to be a bit difficult.”
Dabbling in modeling, including a stint as a face of British streetwear brand Superdry, followed. And Peltz Beckham enrolled in but eventually left Parsons School of Design, the New York institution where he’d been studying photography. “I really enjoyed it for a couple of years,” he says. “I love taking pictures of my wife. I still have all my film cameras, but now it’s just more of a fun thing to do. They were kind of all hobbies. I was still trying to find that one thing I would literally die for, and I found that with cooking.” Now, he says, culinary projects, including a seven-hour Bolognese to which he adds a whole bottle of wine (“My dad uses two cups, and when I told him, he said, ‘You’re going to get people drunk!’”) fill his time. “I’m going to go to the grocery store. I’m weird like that — I love going to smell different herbs.” (He pronounces this last word Britishly, with a hard “h.”) “I found what I absolutely love to do a little later in my life, but I absolutely love it.” Perhaps only in a family where the parents were both 20-something superstars is 23 considered “later in life.”
Peltz Beckham was a child throughout the peak of his father’s playing career with Manchester United. He recalls when he realized his family was famous. “One of the first times when we were walking out of the stadium — I wasn’t asleep the one time — I was like, why is everyone screaming at my dad, happy, asking for photos? That was the moment I was like, oh, OK.” Despite this, his parents tried to raise him under relatively normal circumstances. For instance, when he became obsessed with skateboarding, “hanging out at the skate park with my skateboarding friends,” his parents encouraged him: “Do your thing, but just be careful.”
And even though both his mom and dad sport well-documented body art, he was not allowed to get a tattoo until he was 18. Five years later, he says he has “about 95.” Several pieces are devoted to his wife: One marks the day he proposed, and on his ring finger are her initials. Another reads, “Our little bubble,” referencing the world the Peltz Beckhams inhabit in Los Angeles. “We can be quiet and watch our show and relax. It’s very tucked away in the mountains.” (They’re obsessed with British TV, including the immersive dating show “Love Island”; when we speak, Peltz Beckham hasn’t yet heard of the culinary-TV sensation “The Bear.”) He also grows herbs in a small garden on their balcony, says Nicola: “Listening to him talk about it, how much passion he has in his voice, it makes me fall more in love with him. It’s so endearing and sweet. He gets so excited with everything to do with the cooking space.”
Peltz Beckham’s approach to his career is — now, after some false starts — tactical. But his kitchen endeavors are anything but; indeed, his laid-back approach may be what makes him relatable. “The first few videos, my phone kept falling, I kept trying to catch it, I was burning stuff, I cut myself.” That didn’t make it into the clip, but the air of an eager newbie willing to figure things out did. “I don’t understand why people still think that I try and act like a professional,” he says, “because I’m absolutely not. I’ve always said, this is the very beginning. I have a lot to learn. I’m probably never going to stop learning.”
Our lunch winds down; shortly Peltz Beckham will leave the remains of our meal, grab the second-to-last IPA from the fridge and drive a golf cart to parts of the estate to which a journalist doesn’t have access. Tonight, he’s told me, he is taking his wife to Manhattan for a meal at Le Bernardin; with a still-new marriage and various irons in the fire, there’s plenty to celebrate, and to anticipate. Parenthood looms large in the cook’s mind, and he brings it up again in closing. “I always say to my wife, I wonder what our kids are going to want to love to do,” he says. “But I’m so happy that I’m the first Peltz Beckham to do cooking — the first one in my family to do it.”
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