TV celebrity food hunk and critically acclaimed Observer food writer, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t become absolutely smitten with Nigel Slater’s delicious, simple recipes. Whilst Slater has never worked professionally in kitchens, his memoir Toast and collection of food essays have been foundational in understanding the history of British food. Unlike other TV personas, Slater’s food is humbling and humane, accompanied with a good helping of schoolboy cheek.
Down in the valleys, just two miles from foodie town Abergavenny, sits one Michelin-starred The Walnut Tree, the prodigal brainchild of Welshman Shaun Hill. With a career reigning from 1966 working with the likes of Michael Caines, Robert Carrier and Brian Turner in Britain’s most prestigious restaurants such as Gidleigh Park and The Merchant House, it’s no surprise that food critics everywhere gladly devour his culinary talents. Playing with the best of local ingredients and learning the techniques of his foreign contemporaries, Hill’s unique style has been pivotal in leading the late-80s modern British food movement.
The Walnut Tree, Llanddewi Skirrid, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales, NP7 8AW, UK, +44 (0)1873 85 27 97
Dubbed the first lady of British food, the late Fanny Cradock has stirred up British TV audiences since the 1950s. On set, she harboured an air of snobbery and self-righteousness that surprisingly won her classic dishes much public attention. For the perfect petit fours, there is no other way to go than Cradock’s recipe. It is that simple. Today, this outrageous diva has found her classic methods worshipped by the likes of Jamie Oliver, Amy Winehouse and Gordon Ramsay.
Author of highly-acclaimed Jerusalem and Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi is Britain’s best kept secret ingredient. With his skilful use of Middle Eastern spice, this Jerusalem-born chef has made it incredibly sexy to feast on vegetables. London is home to the chain of Ottolenghi cafés and his more formal success Nopi, which fuses Middle Eastern flavour with the tastes of the Mediterranean and Asia. Needless to say, Ottolenghi’s arrival has put the pizzazz back into vegetal dining.
Nopi, 21-22 Warwick Street, London W1B 5NE, UK, +44 (0)20 7494 9584
You’ll be lucky to find a booking at the picturesque L’Enclume even three months in advance at Simon Rogan’s most accomplished two-starred development. This is because Rogan’s food has come to be known for his stunning homage to nature and local food. His unique menus are centred on ingredients gathered in local woodlands coupled with the organic produce of his various farms. With highly successful openings in London, Cumbria and Manchester, Rogan’s nature-inspired techniques have turned the primal act of foraging into a culinary feat of the highest order.
L’Enclume, Cavendish Street, Cartmel, Cumbria, LA11 6PZ, UK, +44 (0)1539 53 63 62
If Fanny Cradock is the queen of British food then Keith Floyd is surely the king. His legacy was built on TV during the 1980s and 1990s, serving up delicacies such as Floyd on France and Floyd Uncorked, and the public adored the chaos, simplicity and youthful charm of his programmes. It is characters like Floyd that have made cooking extremely cool and turned British TV chefs into rock stars.