Mary Berry, CBE. Food writer.
Chosen by The Sunday Times food team, Oliver Thring and Gizzi Erskine.
The British food industry is currently experiencing an incredible high, with a total of 167 restaurants in UK and Ireland currently holding Michelin stars and London offering more culinary variety than ever before. Cookery programmes occupy prime time slots in the television schedules and recipe books regularly top the bestseller lists. The Sunday Times food team, Oliver Thring and Gizzi Erskine, therefore faced quite a challenge selecting their most influential people from British food. The list includes restaurateurs and chefs, as well as the food critics and bloggers who are influencing Britain’s diners.
Oliver Thring is the assistant editor on the News Review desk at The Sunday Times and was, until recently, the assistant food editor for The Sunday Times Magazine. He has a written about food across Fleet Street and has frequently appeared on radio and television programmes including the Great British Bake-Off. He has been twice shortlisted for a Guild of Food Writers award.
Gizzi Erskine trained at Leith's School of Food and Wine and graduated the top of her year. She went on to win a placement at the BBC Good Food magazine, where she began to establish herself as a food writer, and is now known for her television appearances on Cook Yourself Thin, Iron Chef, Cookery School and Drop Down Menu.
Russell Norman. Restaurateur.
The King of Soho Russell Norman is the co-founder of the greatly celebrated restaurants POLPO, Sputino and Mishkin’s. Norman grew up in West London, the son of a toolmaker with five brothers, and was keen to move out of home, choosing to study at Sunderland Polytechnic due to its distance. After obtaining his degree in English Norman went into teaching, establishing a connection with the restaurant industry by working in Covent Garden at the weekend. Norman describes his career as “a complete accident”, having worked as an arts administrator, bartender and drama teacher before opening his own restaurant. When the recession took hold, a restless Norman decided to re-evaluate and drew up the plan for POLPO. He is now one of London’s most successful restaurateurs.
Brett Graham. Chef and proprietor The Ledbury Restaurant.
Brett Graham’s career in cookery began in his teens, working in a simple fish restaurant in Australia. Following three years working under the highly acclaimed Liam Tomlin in Sydney, Graham won the Josephine Pignolet Award, securing a trip to the UK where he gained a job at The Square. In 2002 he won the Young Chef of the Year award and in 2005 The Ledbury opened with Graham as its head chef. Graham is one of London’s best fine-dining chefs, with many believing The Ledbury is deserving of three Michelin stars, rather than its current two.
Rick Stein, OBE. Chef and restaurateur.
Rick Stein began his career as a serial restaurateur after graduating from Oxford. He converted the mobile disco he had run as a student into a quayside nightclub. Whilst the club gained a reputation for its freeze-dried curries, it was closed by the police on account of the frequent brawls with fishermen. Their restaurant licence escaped unscathed and Stein continued to run the kitchen, which he eventually converted into a small harbour-side bistro. Stein now owns six seafood restaurants in Cornwall and has graced our television screens for decades with his celebrated food series.
Tom Kerridge. Chef.
Tom Kerridge began cooking when he was at school. After his parents divorced, his mother worked multiple jobs and Tom would cook for his brother after school whilst his mother worked. Having worked at various high-profile restaurants such as Adlards and Rhodes in the Square, in 2005 Kerridge opened the Hand and Flowers gastropub in Buckinghamshire with his wife Beth. In its first year it gained a Michelin star and in 2012 it became the first pub ever to receive two Michelin stars. Kerridge knocked both Jamie Oliver and Bridget Jones from the top of the bestsellers list with his recently released collection of recipes.
Angela Hartnett, MBE. Chef patron Murano restaurant and the York & Albany pub.
Angela Hartnett is the protégée of Gordon Ramsey. Her father died when she was eight and her maternal grandmother raised her whilst her mother worked as a dinner lady. It was with her grandmother that Hartnett first learned to cook. In 2002 she became the first ever female chef at The Connaught Hotel. Hartnett is now the chef patron for Murano restaurant and the York & Albany pub in London, and opened Café Murano in late 2013. Thanks to her huge success in recent years, Hartnett is considered to be one of the most high profile women in the restaurant world.
AA Gill. Food critic.
As a veteran of the British food landscape, A A Gill is one of the most widely-read food critics in Britain. He started out life as a struggling artist, but when he failed to make his name in art Gill fell into writing with huge success. The sharp-tongued, soft-hearted critic began writing in his thirties, working for small art magazines before progressing to Tatler. He currently serves his marinated words for the Sunday Times and Vanity Fair as their restaurant reviewer. Despite suffering with severe dyslexia, this clearly has not impeded Gill’s talent. He is one of the most notorious food critics of our time.
Niamh Shields. Food writer and blogger.
Growing up in Ireland inspired Niamh Shields to cook. Her mother didn’t like cooking and so Shields and her four siblings lived off simple, Irish food. Shields attributed her obsession with cooking to having to eat the same thing over and over again at home. Today, she is one of the best known food bloggers in the UK with her blog eatlikeagirl, which has around 70,000 monthly views. The Irish food writer also produces food photography and restaurant criticism in London and shares her bank of original recipes online. The Times listed Shield’s blog in the Top 10 Food Blogs in the World.
Petra Barran. Co-founder eat.st.
Petra Barran was always obsessed with food. As a child she possessed a Sainsbury’s cookery book, attempting all the recipes in its contents. She set-up Choc Star, her van which she would travel around in, offering to bake for people if they put her up for the night. As the boss, cook, driver and sales force of the mobile chocolatier, Barran has expanded her business network and is the organiser of the capital’s street food traders. She is a pioneer of the British street food movement and co-founded eat.st, who strive to improve street food in the UK. Barran has changed the face of British cuisine.
Richard Caring. Owner Caprice Holdings.
Richard Caring is a billionaire investor in London’s restaurants and exclusive members’ clubs. He left Millfield School aged 16, where he had a ten shilling a week scholarship, and started work in retail. Today, Caring is the owner of Caprice Holdings, the parent company to some of the capital’s most famous restaurants and clubs, such as The Ivy, Le Caprice, J Sheeky, Annabelle’s and Daphne’s, where the wealthy, famous and fashionable party in private. From member to owner, Caring spotted an opening in the international market for ownership of a group of top restaurant brands and has worked to raise the standard of food across his businesses.
Nigel Slater. Cookery writer.
One of the foremost food writers of our time, Nigel Slater rose to fame with his uncomplicated comfort food. As the author of a collection of best-selling books and brilliant recipes, Nigel has been recognised as a BBC Food Personality of the Year and has won at the National Book Awards. Slater claims that he cultivated his flair for cooking in competition with his step-mother for his father’s attention. Slater’s award-winning memoir Toast – the Story of a Boy’s Hunger was celebrated with six key awards, translated into five languages and transformed into a BBC film.
Yotam Ottolenghi. Restaurateur.
The multi-talented Yotam Ottolenghi spans all dimensions of the food industry. As a chef, restaurant owner and cookery book writer he plays an influential role over a large proportion of the business. His books Plenty and Jerusalem have both won a multitude of awards including Best Cookbook, Best International Cookbook and the Award for Work on Food and Travel and have sold 750 000 copies worldwide. He also owns the Ottolenghi Deli, where his white tables provide a blank backdrop for the fabulous food served on them, and the Soho based-restaurant, NOPI.
Jason Atherton. Chef.
When Jason Atherton was 16, he ran away from home whilst his parents were on holiday to train as a chef. In 1998 he became the first British chef to complete a stage at el Bulli, Spain’s famous restaurant. Atherton has also trained under culinary masters such as Nico Landis and Marco Pierre White. This invaluable experience has helped launch Atherton’s distinct creative flair. Until 2010, Atherton was the executive chef at Gordon Ramsey’s Michelin-starred Maze and he has opened six other restaurants around the world. Atherton’s flagship restaurant Pollen Street Social opened in April 2011 and in 2013 he opened Social Eating House in Soho and Little Social in Mayfair.
Simon Rogan. Chef.
Simon Rogan is the owner of the two time Michelin starred restaurant L’Enclume and Roganic, which are known for their original menus. According to The Guardian, Rogan is “one of the most innovative chefs in the country”. In spring 2014, Rogan will be taking the helm of the esteemed Claridges restaurant. All of Rogan’s ingredients are sourced from his own farm in Cumbria and his pioneering use of seasonal and home-grown ingredients defines him from his competitors. He is one of the most gifted and creative chefs of our time.
Henry Dimbleby. Co-founder Leon.
The son of David and Josceline Dimbleby, Henry Dimbleby is a co-founder of the healthy fast-food chain, Leon. After working in Burger King to gain insight into the fast-food industry, Dimbleby and his business partner John Vincent opened their first Leon in London’s Carnaby Street. The popularity for the eatery led to queues snaking out of their doors and the company now has fifteen sites around the country with two more opening in the next few months. Dimbleby is also responsible for writing the School Food Plan for the Department for Education and has gained the ear of the Government in his attempts to reform school lunches.
Heston Blumenthal, OBE. Chef and owner The Fat Duck.
Famous for his elaborate creations that push culinary boundaries, celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal is the owner of The Fat Duck, a restaurant he opened in 1995 when he assumed his first position as a paid chef. Just three years after opening it received its first Michelin star, gaining two more in quick succession. In 2005 it won the Best Restaurant in the World prize, and in 2006 Blumenthal was awarded with an OBE. The Fat Duck has received a perfect score of 10/10 from the Good Food Guide every year since 2007. In addition to Blumenthal’s multi-sensory dining, he has a string of cookery books and television shows to his name. Blumenthal has also attempted to improve the quality of hospital and aeroplane food.
Chris Corbin, OBE. Restaurateur.
Chris Corbin is one half of the pair that owns some of London’s most exclusive dining hotspots: The Wolseley, The Delaunay, Colbert, Brasserie Zedel, The Beaumount Hotel and others. As a child, his father would take him out for Saturday lunch as a treat, which was a contributing factor to Corbin’s career path. His father died when Corbin was nine, leaving him with the taste of what the restaurant experience could be. He went on to study hotel and catering management at Westminster College, beginning his career in the restaurant industry in the mid 70s at Langan’s Brasserie. Since this time, Corbin and business partner Jeremy King have created some of London’s most iconic eateries through their business, Rex Restaurant Associates.
Jeremy King, OBE. Restaurateur.
Jeremy King forms the other half of Rex Restaurant Associates with his business partner Chris Corbin. As the owners of The Wolseley, The Delaunay, Colbert, Brasserie Zedel, The Beaumont Hotel and others the duo play an influential role in the restaurant industry. Referred to as a “near deity” of the restaurant scene in London, King has spent a number of years with Corbin providing the finest food to London. In 2012, the pair was named Entrepreneurs of the Year in the GQ Men of the Year Awards and hoards of famous faces, food connoisseurs and star-struck critics flock to their fine dining rooms.
Marina O'Loughlin. Food critic.
Marina O’Loughlin is one of the most respected food critics in Britain. As a former restaurant reviewer with the London Metro, O’Loughlin has written for The Guardian since 2012. Her readership easily exceeds one million and her faceless reviews have awarded her impartial credibility as the unknown critic. O’Loughlin has been awarded the Guild Food Writers Critic of the Year.
Jamie Oliver, MBE. Chef and food campaigner.
Jamie Oliver first broke onto our screen as the fresh-faced Naked Chef of the nineties. Famous for his food-focused television shows such as Jamie’s Kitchen and Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals, Oliver has reformed the culinary standards of schools, cut our food costs and revolutionised our eating habits whilst founding his own chain of restaurants. As a campaigner against the use of processed foods in national schools and for cutting junk food out of children’s diets, Oliver has played an influential role in forming government policy. In 2013, Oliver was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal College of General Practitioners for his work in tackling childhood obesity.
Mary Berry, CBE. Food writer.
Queen of cakes Mary Berry is a national treasure. Although she says she was “hopeless” at school, Berry found solace in cooking, encouraged by her domestic sciences teacher, Miss Date. In pursuit of this talent, Berry decided to take a cookery course at Bath College of Domestic Science. Her first book was published in the 1970s and she launched her own brand of products in the nineties. Berry is one of two judges on the BAFTA award winning show, The Great British Bake Off. Berry was appointed Commander of the British Empire in 2012 for her services to the culinary arts.