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Ainsley Harriott

Ainsley Harriott
File:Ainsley Harriott.jpg
Ainsley Harriott
Born (1957-02-28) 28 February 1957 (age 58)
London, England
Education Westminster College of Catering
Spouse(s) Clare Fellows (separated)
Children 2

Ainsley Harriott (born 28 February 1957, London, England) is an English chef and entertainer, best known for presenting cooking shows such as Can't Cook, Won't Cook, Ready Steady Cook and Ainsley Harriott's Street Food.


Early career

Trained at Westminster College of Catering, Harriott obtained an apprenticeship at Verrey's restaurant in the West End and later worked as a commis (trainee) chef. The son of pianist Chester Harriott (1933-2013), whose cousin was free jazz alto saxophonist Joe Harriott, his talents also lay in comedy and singing as well as cooking and Harriott formed the Calypso Twins with schoolfriend Paul Boross, releasing a hit record in the early 1990s, "World Party". The Calypso Twins went on to be regular performers at the Comedy Store and Jongleurs; they also performed in America and on TV and radio shows. Harriott became head chef at Lord's Cricket Ground's Long Room. He was asked to present More Nosh, Less Dosh on BBC Radio 5,[1] and also has appeared as an extra in Hale and Pace.[2]

Harriott has worked as a chef in London hotels and restaurants including the Dorchester, Brown's, the Hilton, the Westbury, Café Pelican and Quaglino's.

Television work

Harriott became the resident chef on Good Morning with Anne and Nick and later the main presenter of Can't Cook, Won't Cook and Ready, Steady, Cook, both shows involving members of the public. He has presented more straightforward how-to-cook programmes such as Ainsley's Barbecue Bible, Ainsley's Meals in Minutes, Ainsley's Big Cook Out and Ainsley's Gourmet Express.

In 2000, Harriott made his debut on US television with The Ainsley Harriott Show, syndicated by Buena Vista Television, which ran for more than 100 episodes. Following this he went on to host Ready.. Set... Cook!, the US version of Ready Steady Cook.

Harriott played the part of a GELF chief in the sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf in 1993. In 1998, for the show's 10th anniversary, Harriott presented a special edition of Can't Cook, Won't Cook called Can't Smeg, Won't Smeg with the cast of the show cooking a meal while remaining in character.

Ainsley was guest chef on Something for the Weekend on 10 May 2009 and 21 February 2010 alongside guests JLS

In February 2010, Harriott joined the morning show GMTV with Lorraine featuring cookery recipes.

Harriott has performed voiceovers for television adverts including Covonia cough medicine, and has appeared on Fairy Liquid television adverts.

Ainsley Harriott also appeared in the final My Family Christmas special in 2010 "Mary Christmas".

In September 2008, Harriott took part in the genealogy documentary series Who Do You Think You Are?. Harriott knew that his great-grandfather Ebenezer Harriott was in the colonial West India Regiment, and had assumed that they were descended from slaves. In Barbados, he confirmed that his great-grandfather had a distinguished military career, and learnt that he had fought for the British Empire in the Sierra Leone Hut Tax War of 1898 – an increasingly violent protest against British tax collecting in the protectorate.

Although Harriott had assumed that his great-great-grandfather, James Gordon Harriott, was a black slave, he was revealed to be the descendant of a long line of white slave owners.[3] James Harriott was found on the 1825 register, owning eight slaves. The registers had revealed that James Gordon's father was George David Harriott. A deed of sale showed that George Harriott purchased slaves from his own father when he was just four years old. The Harriott family were from Jamaica.


Ainsley Harriott at Taste of London, June 2010

Harriott is a best-selling author, publishing twelve books as well as numerous others in conjunction with his television shows. Including foreign-language translations, he has sold over 2 million books worldwide.

Other work

Harriott was the President of the Television and Radio Industries Club (TRIC) 2004–05 and presented their awards ceremony that year. He markets his own range of food, including couscous, risotto, soups and cereal bars.

Harriott played the role of the Narrator in The Rocky Horror Show at the New Theatre, Cardiff in March 2010, at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley[4] in October 2010, and again at the Richmond Theatre in November 2010.

He made a guest appearance in the BBC radio comedy series Giles Wemmbley Hogg Goes Off as himself, in 2006, and has appeared on Celebrity Come Dine With Me.

Personal life

Ainsley Harriott married former costume designer Clare Fellows, the youngest sister of comedian actor Graham Fellows. They have two children. In November 2012 the couple were reported to have separated and they remain on good terms.[5]


Year(s) Title Role
1988 Hale & Pace Extra
1990–91 Davro Extra
1992–96 Good Morning with Anne and Nick Chef
1993 Red Dwarf Gelf Chief
1994–00 Ready Steady Cook Chef
1995–00 Can't Cook, Won't Cook Presenter
1997 Ainsley's Barbeque Bible Presenter
1998 Ainsley's Meals in Minutes Presenter
1999 Ainsley's Big Cook Out Presenter
2000–01 Gourmet Express Presenter
2000–01 Ready.. Set... Cook! Presenter
2000 The Ainsley Harriott Show Presenter
2000–10 Ready Steady Cook Presenter
2003 The Mark Steel Lectures Robert Boyle
2015 Ainsley Harriott's Street Food Presenter



External links

Preceded by
Fern Britton
Host of Ready Steady Cook
Succeeded by
End of series

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