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From cutting-edge molecular gastronomy to public feuds, Britain’s chefs have got it all. We’ve dished up a taster of the world-class chefs whose culinary ingenuity has been recognised and sought out by foodies all over the world. Here is our list of the top 10 British chefs you should know about.
Low and behold this century’s most influential player in a new generation of young and conscientious eco-chefs. Tom Hunt, founder of Forgotten Feasts and Poco Cafés, chef and food writer, has built his name working with the likes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall concocting lavish banquets from local produce and food waste. Here is a truly respectable chef who has got nose-to-tail feeding down to an art.
Poco Stokes Croft, 45 James St, Bristol, BS2 8JP, UK, +44 (0)117 923 22 33
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.
Worth £240 million, Jamie Oliver is Britain’s biggest culinary personality. First spotted working at The River Café by television producers in 1997, his legacy consists of over 20 television appearances, 26 cookbooks and six fast growing restaurant chains including hottest newcomer Barbecoa, a London-based barbecue steak house. Aside from his onscreen cheek and charm, Oliver’s dedication to the cause of prioritising food education for children has ignited a global ‘food revolution’ for healthier school meals and an increased focus on learning food skills.
Barbecoa, One New Change, 20 New Change, London, EC4M 9AG, UK, +44 (0)20 3005 8555
Heston Blumenthal is a rare breed of culinary alchemist whose innovation and gastronomy has been awarded a total of six Michelin stars. The Fat Duck, his three-starred restaurant, has won the title for world’s best restaurant. Serving up unconventional cooking methods and a spirit of delectable enchantment, his multi-sensory cookery style has become a foundational pillar in the development of New Cookery. You can find his newest restaurant in the heart of Heathrow’s Terminal 2, a perfect way to enjoy your last few hours in London.
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.
Superchef and devil of the kitchen, Marco Pierre White is the first British chef to have ever been awarded three Michelin stars. Beginning his career at the Hotel St. George in Yorkshire, he quickly rose to fame co-owning Harveys at the young age of 24. Despite his public persona as culinary Godfather highlighted by his uncontrollable temper on Hell’s Kitchen and his public feud with Gordon Ramsay, he is known amongst his contemporaries for his unique contributions to contemporary British cuisine. With all this success, it is hard to believe that Pierre White never wanted to be a chef in the first place.