If you took the time to consider who are the most influential and acclaimed celebrities and TV chefs in your life, who would top your list? Jamie Oliver, Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsay, Mary Berry perhaps? Can you spot the link staring at you in the face? Yes, they are all British born and bred chefs!
Some might say that great chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Nigella Lawson are only really as popular as they are because of the fact that they are on-screen TV celebrities, so it is their overall appeal that makes them as famous as they are today.
But, while it may be true that a bit of personality and character has helped them to get their big breaks, did you know that many of these chefs have some seriously prestigious accolades to their name thanks to their culinary abilities? You may not know either that some campaign to make the world a healthier place for our next generation, and that others have other hidden talents that you never knew about!
Despite what some might think, these chefs have all found fame without that being their primary intention; the main priority for each and every one of them has been the food and nothing but the food. If that wasn't the case, Gordon wouldn't have put all that blood, sweat and tears into becoming one of the few chefs to retain three Michelin stars!
Keep reading to find out more about four of the top-rated chefs in the UK by viewers.
Mary Berry: Queen Of Baking
When you think about the most popular UK chef personalities, Mary Berry has to be high up on, if not top of, the list. She is like baking royalty and a real foodie!
Such is her popularity among people of all ages, she is responsible for getting so many people, young or old, spending time in the kitchen baking up cakes and other treats. But, remember, she won't put up with any 'soggy bottoms'!
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About Mary Berry
Mary Berry was born in Bath, England, in 1935. She learnt how to cook at the age of seventeen with the help of her mother, whom she watched working in the kitchen at home.
Mary trained at The Cordon Bleu in Paris, France, whilst also attending Bath School of Home Economics in Somerset. It was in the 1960s that Mary Berry became a household name and started to edit the cooking section of the Housewife magazine.
Her first TV series was Afternoon Plus, with Judith Chalmers.
Mary contributed, alongside fellow judge Paul Hollywood, to the great success of The Great British Bake Off, which encourages viewers of all ages to partake in baking, with its various themes to try at home.
Over her sixty year-long career in the food industry, Mary Berry has received many awards and accreditation in her name. In 2009, for example, she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from Guild of Food Writers. Meanwhile, in 2012, she was given an Honorary Degree by Bath Spa University of her hometown.
Her more recent awards include being honoured as Freeman of the Worshipful company of Bakers of London (2014), TV Choice Outstanding Achievement Award (2017) and National Television Award for Best TV Judge (also 2017). In 2012, she also had the honour of being awarded a CBE by the Queen.
The Great British Bake Off
The Great British Bake Off, or GBBO as it is also known, was always synonymous with head judge Mary Berry, which is why so many fans were left feeling deflated after she announced that she would no longer be a part of the show after its controversial move from the BBC to Channel 4.
The show, produced by Love Productions, involves a group of amateur bakers competing against one another to impress the judges and get through a series of challenges to keep them in the competition for as long as possible. With their baking skills put to the test, Mary was one of the professionals who would taste and offer feedback on their creations.
Mary Berry was one of the original cast members of this much-loved, family-orientated British baking show, and went on to appear in seven series broadcast by the BBC.
It was at this point that Love Productions signed a three-year deal with Channel 4 and lost their star act, Mary Berry. While the show must go on, many are still missing Mary's friendly, warm and constructive criticism. Not to mention her hilarious facial expressions and funny sayings!
Some of her memorable sayings were: "And you're going to finish it in your own way and surprise us", "soggy bottom" and "scrumptious".
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Mary Berry's Virtual Cooking School
Mary is no longer judging on GBBO, but there is another way that you can learn from her wealth of experience, and that is by visiting her website. The Baking Tips section is particularly useful for novice and accomplished bakers alike, offering advice and answers to common questions.
In addition to this handy guide for bakers of all levels, there is also a downloadable app dedicated to Mary and some of her favourite seasonal recipes, called In Mary We Trust. Moreover, there are of course numerous Mary Berry cookbooks available to purchase, with an almost infinite number of delicious recipes to try out at home.
Many of her followers thanks Mary Berry for making her yummy meals and bakes so simple to make, and her step-by-step guides so easy to follow.
Mary has released a fantastic line of cookware in collaboration with Lakeland too, so you can now not only bake like Mary in the kitchen, you can also purchase equipment endorsed by the Queen of baking herself!
Mary's mission is 'To Get Everyone Baking!'
Learn more about Mary Berry
Essex Boy Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver is a British cooking sensation and restaurateur who rose to fame thanks to his debut appearance in The Naked Chef. Since this unique cooking show aired on TV, Oliver has gone on to make numerous other TV appearances and released dozens more cookbooks, all reflecting his passion for honest, healthy and simple food.
It is the young chef's lifelong ambition to change the way our children eat that has given him the recognition he deserves in and outside of the culinary world. And with five children of his own with his wife Jools, the importance of advocating healthy eating in schools as well as at home is all the more meaningful to him.
You can read more about his school lunches campaign below, as well as his aim to get families fed well for as little as a fiver.
Background, Education And Early Career
Jamie comes from a family of cooks. Raised in Essex, where his parents still run their gastro-pub in the village of Clavering, Jamie grew up around a professional kitchen. He knew from an early age that he too wanted to work with food, and thus left school at sixteen to go to catering college.
His training took him to France, but much of his early career was spent working in London. Aged just 22, he was given his own TV show, The Naked Chef, where the idea was to strip food down to its most basic ingredients and inspire people to cook from scratch using simple cooking methods and techniques to create flavorful meals.
The show made it to the US a couple of years later, and Jamie Oliver became a household name on both continents.
Jamie's Kitchen: Giving Something Back
While still only in his early forties, Jamie has for a long time wanted to give something back to the culinary world by putting healthy and nutritious food on the menu.
He sees himself as a lucky young chef who had some truly fantastic opportunities given to him and so this would see him strive to open a training restaurant to help teach young, prospective chefs how to cook. He was documented throughout the process of setting up this scheme, which again raised attention overseas.
As you have probably gathered, Jamie is held in high regard by people all across the world because of his loyalty to supporting families and their generations to come. To highlight his selfless actions, he was awarded an MBE by he Queen in recognition for his contribution to the hospitality industry.
Campaign For Better Lunchtime Meals For Schoolchildren
In another attempt to use his popularity to shed light on a great cause that he felt very strongly about, Jamie started using his position to campaign for better standards of food catering in schools with the backup of hundreds of thousands of parents.
He took his petition to 10 Downing Street in a bid to improve the nutrition of lunchtime meals and to ensure that staff were adequately trained to recognise and promote healthy eating in their schools.
His campaigning paid off; as a result of Jamie's findings, the government awarded extra funding to schools countrywide to improve their catering facilities.
In Partnership With Sainsbury's
Over the last decade, Jamie Oliver has paired up with Sainsbury's supermarket chains to help them to improve the quality of their food, which was a recipe for success for both parties. Together, they launched the Feed Your Family For A Fiver campaign, which offered a range of simple but delicious recipes for any weekend or weeknight using ingredients that would cost no more than £5.00 in a Sainsbury's store (aside from some food cupboard basics).
Meals included dinners, side dishes, starters and desserts, and the recipe cards could be picked up for free.
The scheme meant that, in theory, families could spend less than £150 per month on their food shopping (taking into account that the average weekly spend on groceries for a family of four is £56.80, according to the Office for National Statistics).
Cookbooks And TV Shows
In total, Jamie has published more than 20 cookbooks, with many festive releases among the collection. You may have heard of some (as many are linked to TV shows he has appeared in), and you might also have some on your own bookshelf: Jamie Does America, 15 Minute Recipes, 30 Minute Recipes and the recent release 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food.
In many of his books, you will discover that Jamie Oliver is not only keen on straightforward, uncomplicated cooking techniques, he is also a big fan of simple, organic ingredients and loves to plant his own food.
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Would you like to read more about Jamie Oliver's personal life and professional endeavours? If so, visit the blog: Jamie Oliver: The Naked Chef.
Or try out some of his Scottish recipes with cooking classes Glasgow.
Nigella Lawson: A Sensual Cooking Icon
Nigella Lawson is a female chef and author from London, England, who has earned the reputation of being a sensuous icon. If you haven't yet watched the cook in action on one of her celebrated cooking programmes, then you only need to tune in to recognise that intense love for food that she cooked.
While jokes have been made about her seductive ways and her suggestive innuendos, Nigella has a very loyal fan base and her followers can't get enough of her hearty recipes. However, Nigella hasn't always been the domesticated cook that we all know and love now.
Keep reading to find out more information on this stylish icon and how she came to find fame in the world of cooking.
Personal Life, Education And Early Career
Born in 1960 to a politician father in Margaret Thatcher's cabinet and a mother who was part of the Lyons Coffee House clan, Nigella studied at the prestigious Oxford University.
At the time, the young student had no intentions to pursue a career in the culinary arts.
Instead, she kept her head down and completed a degree in medieval and modern languages. Upon finishing her education, she embarked on a career in the publishing industry and became deputy literary editor of The Sunday Times, then a restaurant critic at The Spectator followed by the food editor at Vogue. She developed a passion for cuisine and then turned freelance and began to write books herself.
Lawson was married to an old colleague and journalist John Diamond, with whom she had two children. Diamond sadly died from cancer which Lawson took badly and, after a bout of depression, she got married again to Charles Saatchi in 2003.
The pair had a notoriously turbulent relationship, with some very personal stories making news headlines, and their marriage ended ten years later. Nigella continues to support cancer charities to this day, having lost both her mother and sister to the illness as well as her first husband.
The Star Of Her Own Show
While Lawson doesn't have a string of restaurants or a collection of Michelin stars to her name like some of the chefs also included in my list of top UK chefs, she is still a successful chef in her own right and is the star of her very own televised cooking shows, notably At My Table.
She also hosted the shows Nigella Feasts and Nigella Express, among others, in collaboration with the Food Network and continues to teach the nation how to bake tasty homemade food for friends and relatives through her books and TV appearances. Her food network shows have seen her share what she knows on cooking with an american audience too.
Food Writing Success
Nigella published her first cookbook in 1998, titled How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food and later followed this up with How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking (for which she received an award at the British Book Awards), Feast: Food to Celebrate Life and Nigella Kitchen: Recipes From the Heart of the Home.
Lawson hasn't just found literary success in the UK though, she's sold millions of copies of her books worldwide, making her a household name in numerous countries and continents.
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How You Can Be Like Nigella
If you have ever watched Nigella cooking, you will no doubt have wondered how she manages to look so elegant and relaxed in her warm and inviting kitchen.
As if it isn't bad enough that we want to be like Nigella, we also want everything in her cosy kitchen! Thankfully, we can now model our kitchens on Nigella's with cookware just like hers.
Good Housekeeping couldn't help but notice that so many viewers were all raving about Nigella's range of attractive kitchenware (unlike many of the clinical sets we saw on modern cooking shows) and therefore tracked down the stylish items that the chef keeps in her kitchen, or similar versions for her followers to purchase.
So, if you don't have the creativity or a salary to match Nigella's expensive yet quirky taste, then you can find a range of more basic alternatives that will still jazz up your work surfaces and cupboards. The list includes Nigella's stripey pasta bowls, rose gold cutlery, Le Creuset casserole dishes, see-through toaster, letter mug and bundt tins and can be found on the Good Housekeeping blog.
Meanwhile, I have put together a blog dedicated to Nigella Lawson and her influence in the world of cooking, here.
Gordon Ramsay: Striving For Perfection In The Food And Hospitality Industry
Gordon Ramsay is perhaps one of the most famous chefs in the UK for a number of reasons, but first and foremost for his exceptional cooking skills.
But it is not just in his country of birth that he has found fame and recognition. Ramsay has a string of restaurants in and outside of the UK while his successful TV cooking shows like Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, Hells Kitchen and The F Word have seen him become as popular in the US.
His expertise is therefore recognised internationally, which makes him a real treasure in British cooking history.
Childhood and Education
Scottish by birth, Gordon Ramsay was raised in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, where he first of all aspired to be a professional footballer. However, Gordon was left devastated after an injury put an end to his dream and he instead returned to college and chose to study towards a qualification in Hotel Management.
It was clear to him, and his teachers, right from the start that he was amazingly talented and so he naturally went on to train with some of the world's best chefs like Albert Roux, Marco Pierre White, Guy Savoy and Joël Robuchon before opening up restaurants of his own.
Michelin Star Experience
Gordon Ramsay became head chef at Aubergine in London in 1993, a career move that would start things rolling for the talented chef. Just three years later, the restaurant was awarded two Michelin stars, a real credit to the rising star.
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Ramsay first set up his very own restaurant, named after himself, in 1998 and it wasn't long before it too had received Michelin stars; three to be exact. This is a massive achievement for any chef and saw him enter a very elite group of UK chefs having received and maintained three stars.
But those three stars are not his only ones, he also has received one star to his name at his other London restaurant, Pétrus, and a further one at each of the restaurants he runs in France: Le Pressoir d'Argent in Bordeaux and Gordon Ramsay au Trianon in Versailles.
Other Gordon Ramsay Restaurants
Aside from his prestigious, star-studded restaurants that he owns in the UK and in France, Gordon Ramsay has opened a number of other restaurants across the globe. Le Bordeaux Gordon Ramsay is located, as you might expect, in France (Gordon is passionate about French cuisine), as is La Veranda. Meanwhile Ramsay five restaurants in Las Vegas, one in Dubai, two in Qatar, two in Hong Kong and, finally, one in Singapore.
This means that, almost wherever you are in the world, you aren't far from a Gordon Ramsay restaurant!
Closer to home, Gordon Ramsay Group has a number of locations across the capital city including London House, Bread Street Kitchen, Union Street Café, Maze, Maze Grill, Heddon Street Kitchen and two further Maze Grills.
Cooking With Gordon Ramsay
If you want to learn to cook like a pro, but aren't sure that you can cope with having the famous chef shouting and cursing at you (as has been seen in more than one episode of his cutthroat reality TV cooking shows!), then you might like to simply watch some of his tutorials. The chef offers comprehensive cooking classes online, made up of video lessons covering a range of cooking methods.
During the exclusive videos, Ramsay invites you into his kitchen and teaches you the techniques that have contributed to him owning six Michelin stars and being the world-renowned chef that he is today as well as giving you an insight into buying the best ingredients to cook with.
More on Gordon Ramsay can be found by visiting the blog Gordon Ramsay: The Food Perfectionist.
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