Nigel Slater: two recipes and his life story
An easy chicken supper, a hearty cake and a potted biography of the celebrity chef
Nigel Slater recipes...
Young Nigel had a complicated family life. He was brought up in Wolverhampton. His mother died of asthma when he was nine. His father (whom he admits he never liked) got a woman in to help around the house and then married her (Nigel also admits he didn't like her either). His father died in 1974 when Nigel was 16. In his autobiography, Nigel portrays himself as an only child. In fact, he had two older brothers and two step-sisters, who lived with him.
His step mum was a good cook and so young Nigel developed a taste for quality food. He claims that he started cooking seriously, because he wanted to compete with his step-mother for his fathers attention. He went to Worcester Technical college, where he did an Ordinary National Diploma in catering, worked in top restaurants including the kitchens of the Savoy Hotel and smaller restaurants such as the Box Tree in Ilkley. At one point he ran a bed and breakfast in St Ives in Cornwall.
He got into journalism when he was cooking at a small café just next to Selfridges in Londons Oxford Street. A regular customer was setting up a magazine, 'Homes and Gardens', and used to ask him to check the recipes - and soon he started writing the recipes for her. In 1988 he became a food writer for 'Marie Claire' magazine and he became a food columnist for the Observer in 1993.
Nigel's big break...
In 1998 he made the Channel 4 show Nigel Slaters Real Food. After years of trendy nouvelle cuisine, people enjoyed watching him cook lots of old fashioned comfort food - usually with a modern twist. He cooked roast chicken and risotto and sticky puds. The fact that he was young and smart and gay and had a loveable smile, made the show and Nigel very popular. His cookery columns were full of personal details about the feelings that particular foods aroused in him. This led to a book called Real Food, which was a bestseller. He also wrote a book Toast about his life. This became a bestseller after it was featured on the television programme 'Richard and Judy'. Unusually for a book about cookery, it was also turned into a film, with Helena Bonham-Carter playing his step-mother.
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