TV chef Ainsley Harriott on ‘great honour’ and ‘pride’ at being made MBE


Ainsley Harriott has said he knows how proud his mother would have been at the news he has been recognised in the New Year Honours list.

The TV chef has been made an MBE for services to broadcasting and to the culinary arts.

He said: “When I was first told about it, I immediately thought about my dear late mum – which really choked me up, because I know how proud she would have been, her boy’s proud too – it’s a great honour for me and for everyone who has helped me on my way.”

The National Lottery Awards 2016
The National Lottery Awards 2016

Harriott is one of the best-known culinary figures in Britain thanks to his decades-long career in the kitchen.

For nearly 30 years, the chef, with his sunny demeanour and colourful turn of phrase, has been a favourite among viewers thanks to shows including Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook and Ready Steady Cook.

Away from the small screen, the 62-year-old’s cook books have made him a best-selling author.

Harriott was born in London to mother Peppy and father Chester Leroy, a famous Jamaican-born pianist and entertainer.

Before building his reputation as a chef, Harriott was part of the musical duo the Calypso Twins with school friend Paul Boross.

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They are best known perhaps for their early 1990s single World Party.

Harriott worked as head chef at the Long Room at Lord’s cricket ground before getting his big break in TV as the resident chef of BBC One daytime show Good Morning With Anne And Nick.

After that came a spell on Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook.

But Harriott is best known for appearing on, and later presenting, Ready Steady Cook.

The daytime show involved two members of the public provided with two celebrity chefs and tasked with making a dish within a specified budget.

Harriott was host up until Ready Steady Cook finished in 2010, although the BBC has announced a revival with Rylan Clark-Neal as presenter.

Harriott continues to appear on TV, including a spell on Strictly Come Dancing in 2015.

During an appearance on the BBC’s genealogy programme Who Do You Think You Are? Harriott, who is of Jamaican descent, discovered his great-great-grandfather was not a black slave as he had thought, but the descendant of a long line of white slave owners.

Harriott was married to former costume designer Clare Fellows for 23 years before they separated in 2012.

They have two children together.