To succeed as a TV cook, you need your own distinctive approach to cooking and Nigella’s is to show how enjoyable food can be.The Telegraph
South African foodie and well-known wizard in the kitchen, Justine Drake, has worked magic in the food-media industry for over 20 years. Having written five books and edited several magazines, her culinary adventures have left many tantalized.
She received her first big break with her column The Busy Cook in Fair Lady magazine, which later consolidated into her first international cookbook. Justine moved to become the food editor of a number of popular magazine titles including Men’s Health, Shape and Discovery Vitality. Her run as editor of Eat In Food Directory garnered acclaim, and whilst at the helm, saw her launch the Eat In Small Producer Awards.
Her accomplishments aren’t just limited to print, Justine has presented and co-produced the BBC television series Just in Africa, which enjoyed both local and international success.
Today Justine breathes life into the pages as editor of the multi-award winning Pick n Pay customer magazine Fresh Living, for which she received the Pica Editor of the Year and Best Customer Magazine awards in 2012.
And if all of these kitchen conquests haven’t left you hungry for more, she is also festival director of the South African Taste Festivals held annually in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and PE.
Nigella Lawson has been teaching us 'How to Eat' since 1998 and has gone on to win awards by teaching us 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' in her award winning book.
Prior to her appearances on television and career as a well-respected writer, Nigella graduated from Oxford University, having studied Medieval and Modern Languages. Her next step was into the world of publishing and she went on to become deputy literary editor of The Sunday Times. She then pursued a successful career as a freelance journalist, during which time her work was published in significant culinary and lifestyle magazines around the world.
Nigella's first television show on the BBC was the three-part series, 'Nigella's Christmas Kitchen' and later, 'Nigella Express' on BBC Two in 2007.
The ever-glamorous Tess Daly has co-presented all 13 series of Strictly Come Dancing.
After working around the world as a model and before landing her role on Strictly, Tess presented many other TV shows including Smash Hits TV, Children in Need and the Royal Variety Performance. She also presented BBC One’s celebrity singing talent show Just the Two Of Us alongside husband Vernon Kay.
In 2008, Tess won a special version of Strictly Come Dancing against Sir Terry Wogan, where she was partnered with a delighted Anton du Beke. As well as being a successful columnist Tess is also a published author with titles The Camera Never Lies and It’s Up To You, New York to her name.
The ever-popular Claudia Winkleman joins Tess Daly to co-host Strictly Come Dancing. Having co-presented the Sunday night results show alongside Tess Daly since 2010, this year Claudia will be providing first-hand reactions from the couples hot off the dance floor.
The Cambridge graduate, who previously hosted It Takes Two, has many a string to her entertainment bow. She is known for presenting a number of BBC shows including Comic Relief and Film 2014. Alongside her work as a journalist, she also presents a weekly Friday evening show on BBC Radio 2 – The Arts Show with Claudia Winkleman – delivering a feast of the finest offerings from film, theatre, arts, TV and music. Claudia is also presenter of the popular BBC Two programme The Great British Sewing Bee.
Born in Bedfordshire in 1958, Kevin started his professional career as a theatre designer. He went on to establish McCloud Lighting, a commercial lighting design and manufacturing business that delivered bespoke illuminations for such iconic buildings as Harrods department store, Edinburgh Castle and London’s Savoy and Dorchester hotels.
Kevin first made his mark on the broadcasting landscape as a guest presenter on the TV makeover show Homefront in the Garden in 1998, and shot to national fame in 1999 as the host of the BAFTA-nominated series Grand Designs.
His other TV highlights include embarking on a gruelling two-week stay in Mumbai's Dharavi slum for the 2010 documentary Kevin McCloud: Slumming It, and building eco-friendly constructions in the great British outdoors for the popular 2012/13 series, Kevin McCloud's Man Made Home.
Off screen, Kevin has also gained acclaim for establishing HAB in 2007, a residential development company committed to creating dynamic and environmentally-friendly communities.
In 2014, Kevin’s commitment to championing greener living earned him prestigious royal approval – he was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to sustainable design and energy-saving property refurbishment.
Gordon was born in Johnstone in Renfrewshire, Scotland but grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon in England. As a boy, he showed promise as a footballer and after playing in under-14 games at the age of just 12, he was chosen to play for the county of Warwickshire.
As a teenager, Gordon also had a trial for Rangers, the club he supported as a child. But unfortunately, his nascent football career was thwarted by a series of injuries and he turned his attention to hotel management after enrolling at a catering college in Oxfordshire.
After moving to London, Gordon worked for a number of high-profile chefs in famed establishments, including Marco Pierre White at Harvey’s and Albert Roux at Le Gavroche in Mayfair. After handling haute cuisine in England, Gordon headed to France to continue his training. After building up his cooking nous over a number of years spent living on the continent, he then headed for Bermuda where he worked as a personal chef on a private yacht.
A keen amateur endurance athlete, Gordon raced his first marathon in 2001. Since then, he has competed not only in more marathons, but also in a series of ultra-marathons, half-Ironmans (triathlons which end in a half-marathon) and in the world’s toughest Ironman competition, which takes place annually in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
He may be renowned for being competitive, but Gordon doesn’t win them all. Whilst filming an episode of his TV series the F-Word at Doncaster's Marshgate Prison, he challenged an inmate to a vegetable-chopping competition – and he lost!
Gordon was appointed an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II in the 2006 honours list for services to the hospitality industry. He’s also a keen supporter of and fundraiser for a variety of charities, and he and his wife Tana set up the Gordon Ramsay Foundation in 2014 to raise money for worthy causes.
Born in London in 1977, Christian graduated with a master's degree in general medicine, infectious disease, travel medicine and sexual health/HIV from University College London in 2000.
He lived and worked in Kenya and Uganda for two years, during which time he taught in schools and researched malaria and HIV interactions in children.
In addition to flexing his medical know-how as presenter of such popular TV series as Embarrassing Bodies and Supersize vs Superskinny, Christian works as a GP and sexual health specialist for the private medical group Doctorcall on London’s Harley Street.
He is a medical advisor and columnist for Closer magazine, writes a weekly health column for the Evening Standard newspaper and pens a monthly column for Top Santé magazine. Christian has also authored and published an impressive library of health-related books, including Can I Just Ask?: The 250+ Curious Questions That Off-Duty Doctors Are Most Often Asked.
Off-screen, Christian enjoys foreign travel, working out (he’s VERY fit), music and art. Unbeknown to many, he is actually an accomplished oboist and occasionally performs publicly.
John Torode burst onto the British culinary scene after emigrating from his native Australia at the age of 25. He made his name cooking prime-cut meat dishes at Terrance Conran’s most revered London dining hotspots – Pont de la Tour, Quaglino's and Mezzo – before landing a broadcasting contract as a resident chef on the popular TV morning magazine show Richard and Judy.
In 2000, John established himself as a restaurateur in his own right by opening his New York style Smiths of Smithfield in a grand grade II listed building in the heart of Smithfield Market, London’s only working meat market. Guided by a mission “to serve simple food made from the finest ingredients”, it became an instant success and prompted him to open a second establishment called Luxe in 2009. Under his leadership, turnover of the two restaurants reached a reported £9.2 million.
John’s passion for locally farmed meat earned him presidency of the Royal Agricultural Society of England in 2008. He has also authored several bestselling books on cooking protein to perfection, including John Torode's Beef and John Torode's Chicken and Other Birds.
In addition to presenting and judging MasterChef since 2005, John’s broadcasting CV includes the recent John Torode's Australia. The ten-part series saw him return to his homeland to retrace the flavours of his childhood that ignited his passion for food, and was the most watched show on BBC Good Food in 2014.
Outside of the kitchen, John is fanatical about running, which he claims has helped him to manage his long battle with asthma.
Unbeknown to many, Si and Dave – aka The Hairy Bikers – never had their sights set on culinary fame.
Hailing from North East England, Si carved a profession as a first assistant director and locations manager for film and television, and can boast credits for working his magic on the award-winning series of Harry Potter movies. He has always loved grub, a passion that was nurtured from an early age by his father – he would bring back exotic ingredients from his voyages with the Royal Navy.
Born and bred in the Cumbrian town of Barrow-in-Furness, Dave studied fine arts at London’s Goldsmiths College, specialising in egg tempera and the work of the Old Masters. After graduating, he joined the BBC as a prosthetics make-up artist and worked on such hit series as The Lives and Loves of a She Devil, Prime Suspect and Spooks.
The duo met by professional chance on the set of the 1995 The Gambling Man, a TV adaptation of a Catherine Cookson novel. They bonded over their love of tasty bites and bikes, and indulged their mutual passions by riding and cooking together in their spare time. Eventually, the winning formula prompted them to risk turning their back on making TV to chance becoming motorised TV cooking stars in their own right. Their first series, The Hairy Bikers’ Cookbook, broadcast in 2006 and was an instant success.
A decade on, the Hairy Bikers have travelled the world in the pursuit of great food, created haute cuisine dishes with Michelin-starred chefs, published a library of bestsellers and are the UK's third most popular cookery book writers after Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson. Their first calorie-conscience title – The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight – even toppled the saucy 50 Shades of Grey from the top of the bestsellers charts when it was released in 2012, and held the number one spot for an impressive six weeks.
Si and Dave are best friends in life, work and ink – both have a tattoo of Che Guevara on their right arm.
London-born Greg is a produce connoisseur who started his career as a stall trader at London’s Covent Garden Market. He made his name in the fruit and veg world by founding Allan’s Greengrocers in 1989, a company that went on to celebrate a tidy £7.5 million annual turnover.
His entrepreneurial success and knowledge of greens earned him a seven year broadcasting contract with the BBC Radio 4 show Veg Talk, a year as host of the popular cooking TV show Saturday Kitchen and guest spots on such diverse shows as the genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? and The Money Programme. However, since 2005, Greg is best known for being a MasterChef co-host and judge.
In 2014, Greg hit the dance floor as a celebrity contestant on the hit show Strictly Come Dancing. Sadly, his moves failed to wow and he was voted off in the second week of the competition.
Aside from his TV career, Greg is a contributing journalist for BBC Good Food and Olive magazines. He also published his autobiography – Life on a Plate – in 2012.
National Television Awards 2013, 2014 and 2016 Winner for Most Popular Talent Show.