Ainsley Harriott smiling for the camera onstage at the BBC Good Food Show Summer

Ainsley Harriott

There are only a handful of personalities whose enduring popularity places them in that rare category where they are instantly recognized, simply by their first name. “Ainsley” can only mean Ainsley Harriott, who, after more than 25 years as one of the country’s favourite TV chefs, is something of a national institution. Throughout that time, he has become the master of fresh, fun, accessible cuisine.

Ainsley trained at Westminster College and embarked on a career in London’s top hotels and restaurants, including Verrey’s, The Strand Palace, The Dorchester, Brown’s, The Hilton, The Westbury, Café Pelican and Quaglino’s. He also started 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 for Princess Margaret. I’ve 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.” With many years experience working in professional kitchens, Ainsley has a wide understanding of his craft.

In the early 1990s Ainsley was Head Chef of the Long Room at Lord’s Cricket Ground and it was during one cricket season that BBC Radio asked him to present More Nosh, Less Dosh for BBC Radio 5. A call from BBC TV quickly followed and Ainsley became resident on BBC 1’s Good Morning With Anne And Nick.

Over the following two decades Ainsley hosted a wide variety of food programmes, including Can’t Cook Won’t Cook, Ainsley’s Barbeque Bible, Ainsley’s Meals in Minutes, Ainsley’s Big Cook Out, Gourmet Express, Ready Steady Cook (which ran for 21 series and nearly two thousand episodes), Ainsley Eats The Streets and, with Strictly judge Len Goodman, Len & Ainsley’s Big Food Adventure. After his 2019 island-hopping network series, Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen, aired on ITV1 it was followed by Ainsley’s Market Menu on Food Network and Ainsley’s Mediterranean Cookbook in spring 2020, again on ITV1. Ainsley’s Food We Love ran for two series in 2020/21 and his latest ITV series, Ainsley’s Good Mood Food, started its run in September 2021, followed by a Christmas Day Special, with series 2 currently airing until mid-May 2022.

In the USA he presented The Ainsley Harriott Show, for NBC, and Ready Set Cook, for The Food Network. For South African television he hosted two series of Off The Menu and he’s made numerous guest appearances in the US, Australia, South Africa and Europe Beyond food programming, Ainsley has hosted the BBC1 lifestyle series Party of a Lifetime, popular factual series City Hospital, The Hidden Camera Show – which took him to new audiences with a Saturday night entertainment series – and The National Lottery Draw Live. He also got to trace his ancestors in BBC1’s prestigious primetime hit, Who Do You Think You Are?, an episode which proved to be among the most popular in the history of the series. Ainsley has also shown off his moves on Strictly Come Dancing.

He’s appeared at various venues across the country as The Narrator in The Rocky Horror Show and at countless live events across the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and many European countries.

As a No.1 best selling author he’s sold more than two million books worldwide, with co-editions in Dutch, Danish, Slovenian, Romanian – and American. Titles include: In The Kitchen, Can’t Cook Won’t Cook, Ainsley’s Barbecue Bible, The Big Cook Out, Meals In Minutes, Gourmet Express, Low Fat Meals in Minutes, Friends & Family, The Feel Good Cookbook, Just Five Ingredients and two editions of the My Kitchen Table series. His most recent titles, Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen, Ainsley’s Mediterranean Cookbook and his latest – Ainsley’s Good Mood Food – are published by Ebury Press and accompany his popular ITV series.

He enjoyed a seven-year association with Procter and Gamble as the face of FAIRY and for twelve years Ainsley was the tv voice of COVONIA cough mixture.

Ainsley’s own-brand food products are a familiar sight not only in the UK’s supermarkets, but worldwide. Over fifteen years, the brand has gone from strength to strength and a packet of his flavoured cous-cous or one of his wide range of soups is a must on many a family shopping list. And in 2020, Ainsley was made an MBE in recognition of his services to broadcasting and the culinary arts.