The Rise of The TV Chef

There’s no denying that today’s celebrity chefs have a huge influence on the public, from prompting them to try new cuisines to inspiring social change. What’s notable about today’s TV chefs as well as popular TV chefs from decades gone by is that they each have their own unique personalities – something that captivates audiences and makes them so watchable.

Here we will take a look at the rise of the TV chef and some of the famous faces that have together created an industry worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver, TV Chef extraordinaire
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Fanny Cradock
Fanny Cradock was the earliest television celebrity chef in the UK. She appeared on British television for over two decades, from the 1950s through to the 1970s, following the popularity of her first cookbook in 1949 entitled ‘The Practical Cook.’


When Fanny first appeared on television, it was at a time when cooking was only done by housewives and when people would actually sit in front of their television sets to note down recipes to try with a pad and paper – there wasn’t any online recipes back then!

Over the years, Fanny produced over thirty cookbooks. Many people still swear by her recipes and credit her for their ability to cook.

Whilst Fanny did have a huge following in the UK, it is fair to say that many feared her straight talking nature and ability to dish out harsh criticism. In fact it was this that abruptly ended her TV career in 1976, when she pretended to wretch as a contestant described her menu on a reality TV show at the time called Big Time. Today’s celebrity chefs arguably do far worse, but at the time, it was such a big deal!

Keith Floyd
Keith Floyd was a British celebrity chef, TV personality and restaurateur who shot to fame in the 1980s. He was the star of a number of groundbreaking cookery programmes, which he presented with huge enthusiasm and his signature wine glass in hand. As well as hosting a number of shows for the BBC, he also published a number of cookery and travel books. Like Fanny, he was known for being outspoken and honest and certainly had an eccentric style of presentation that gained him a huge following all over the world.


Delia Smith
Good old Delia, TV heaven for fans of cookery programmes
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Delia Smith
Delia Smith is the longest serving TV chef. She has been teaching generations to cook for over four decades now! It all started with her first TV show back in 1973 called Family Fare, after which she quickly became the face of home cooking on television.

Delia’s unique selling point is the fact she likes to keep things simple and go back to the basics. She has previously been quoted saying that she much prefers recipes from the seventies than some of the ultra-modern cuisine cooked by chefs today.

Delia has had so much influence on the public’s buying and eating habits that the term ‘Delia effect’ was added to the dictionary. The meaning being ‘the way in which food products sell out much more quickly than usual when they are used on television food programmes.’

James Martin
Speaking on influential TV programmes, one of the very best has to be Ready Steady Cook, which produced a number of famous celebrity chefs including James Martin. Over the years he has won a number of awards for his cooking and is also the owner of two restaurants, The Talbot Hotel in North Yorkshire and James Martin Manchester.

If you enjoy spending your Saturday mornings in front of the television, it is likely you’ll have seen James on the BBC1 show, Saturday Kitchen, of which he is the presenter. Saturday Kitchen has a very accessible format, making cooking enjoyable for all.

Heston Blumenthal
Heston Blumenthal is an English Celebrity Chef and owner of several restaurants including The Fat Duck in Berkshire, one of only four restaurants in Britain to be awarded 3 Michelin stars. As well as being a restaurateur, Heston has also published several cookery books, written newspaper columns and starred in several successful TV series.

As we mentioned before, one of the reasons these TV chefs have become so popularity is that they all have their own personalities or branding if you like. For Heston it’s his scientific understanding of cooking, which often leads him to creating weird and wacky dishes that no other chef would attempt. He is a pioneer of multi-sensory cooking and is one of the very best chefs in the UK today.

The sign at Gordon Ramsay's Restaurant
Gordon Ramsay, now a world famous TV chef
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Gordon Ramsay
If they thought TV chefs from past decades were outspoken, they’d seen nothing until Gordon Ramsay came along, shocking everyone with his swearing in his first major television series Boiling Point. He really did show a side of TV chefs that no one had really witnessed before.

It was Gordon’s fiery temper than sparked a huge interest with other TV producers and the offers for work soon came pouring in. He has now had TV series broadcast in the UK, US and other parts of the world.

Gordon Ramsay also runs a successful restaurant empire, which collectively holds more than ten Michelin stars.

Jamie Oliver
Whilst Jamie Oliver may have started out as ‘The Naked Chef’ he has arguably gone onto use his celebrity status to the greatest effect amongst all of the TV chefs. Not only has he made millions of pounds from TV appearances, sponsorships with supermarkets like Sainsbury’s and best-selling cookery books, but he has also used his fame to publicise issues close to his heart.

It is these issues that have gone onto revolutionise his image and make him one of the most likable and respectable celebrity chefs in the industry. His most notable campaign was the School Dinner campaign in which he aimed to introduce better eating in UK schools and revolutionise the school dinner. The successful campaign sparked a change in food standard requirements across the UK and the show was sent over to the United States with hopes of achieving the same result.

From teaching people to cook at home to inspiring social change, it is amazing to see how the role of the TV chef has changed over the years.
Could you be the next big culinary personality? Do you have something that makes you stand out from the crowd? Kick-start your culinary career today with our help – you never know where it could take you!

Image credits: Scandic Hotels, noii’s and acme

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