Ainsley Harriott’s flamboyant "Dances with Saucepans" style has made people want to try his recipes ever since his first program in 1993.
Ainsley Harriott’s flamboyant "Dances with Saucepans" style has made people want to try his recipes ever since his first program in 1993. Ainsley makes cooking fun. "It’s a skill that takes you through life" he says and believes in using quality fresh ingredients and that simple dishes can be just as good as the fancy stuff.
Ainsley has his mother, Peppy, to thank for his lifelong passion for cooking. She encouraged him to help with the cooking for family and friends in what was always an open house in Balham, South London.
At 16, he started as trainee chef as Verrey’s restaurant in London’s West End where they got him cutting flour "to make it finer". He graduated to commis chef, then moved to the Strand Palace before taking a break to tour Europe as part of a musical duo (his show business talents being inherited from his musician/actor dad, Chester). Returning to England, he teamed up with partner Paul Boross to form The Calypso Twins, notching up several TV credits, a record release, and a prominent position on London’s New Comedy circuit.
Cooking, however, remained Ainsley’s first love, and he continued to pursue a career in top West End restaurants, gaining experience in all aspects of his craft and rising to Head Chef at Lord’s Cricket Ground, with his own catering company. “It was an exciting period,” says Ainsley. “One day I’d be creating posh nosh for Elton John; the next I’d be making steak-and-kidney pud with mash for Princess Margaret. I’ve been lucky to have worked at every level of the catering business, and I think that it’s an enormous advantage to know how to make delicious beans on toast as well as Lobster Thermidor.”
In 1993, during his spell as Head Chef of the Long Room at Lord’s, BBC Radio 5 asked him to present More Nosh Less Dosh. Ainsley’s exuberant personality was soon attracting attention. He was offered a spot on UK Daytime TV’s 'Good Morning with Anne and Nick', where as the resident chef he soon became a household name.
Ready Steady Cook and Can’t Cook Won’t Cook followed, and now Ainsley’s cheerful face is rarely off the television. His world tour of outdoor cooking 'Ainsley’s Barbecue Bible' was his first solo television series, followed by Ainsley’s Meals in Minutes.Year 2000 saw Ainsley exploring the Americas in Ainsley’s Big Cook Out.
Ainsley has also produced BBC Books to accompany his TV series. He has a monthly item Meals in Minutes in BBC Good Food Magazine, a weekly column in TV Quick, and appears regularly in the Young Telegraph.
When Ainsley isn’t making TV programmes or writing cookery books, he likes to spend all his spare time with his wife Clare and two children, Jimmy and Madeleine, who are already learning the ropes in the family kitchen.
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