Antony Worrall Thompson
Antony - one of that select band of chefs who the great British public recognises by his first name alone! The term 'celebrity chef' only skims the surface of his career.
He's a TV entertainer and a highly articulate, passionate campaigner for food issues - in his own words, "never afraid to put his head above the parapet" - but it's all done with the gentle self deprecating humour that has made him so popular with viewers and broadcasters alike.
His cooking career has spanned 30 years and some of the best known restaurants in London during that time - dell'Ugo, Brinkleys, One Ninety Queensgate and of course Princess Diana's favourite Menage a Trois. Currently he has 2 pubs and 2 restaurants headed by the esteemed Notting Grill.
His TV career has encompassed food programmes - Ready Steady Cook, light entertainment - I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and current affairs - Panorama, Daily Politics, Question Time. He is the presenter of Daily Cooks Challenge a high rating, live programme on ITV 1.
Always at the forefront of new developments in food, Antony is increasingly involved in food and health issues - diabetes, the GI diet, diet and heart disease and frequently speaks at NHS events. He's a high profile campaigner for the organic food movement and Farmers' Markets - as well as being patron of Forest! No one ever said that Antony isn't contentious!!
He's a prolific author of recipe books and a journalist with the Saturday & Sunday Express and a contributor to specialist food magazines. He has been awarded the Meilleur Ouvrier de Grande Bretagne (MOGB) - the chef's Oscar - and is one of only seven chefs to have merited the lifelong title so far.
Antony Worrall Thompson was born in Stratford-upon-Avon. Public-school educated (Kings School, Canterbury) Antony then studied Hotel and Catering Management at Westminster College. He worked for various establishments in Essex, much to the horror of his grandmother who refused to write to him because she could not bring herself to write the word Essex on the envelope.
He finally became brave enough to make the move to London in September 1978 to become sous chef at Brinkley's Restaurant in Fulham Road.
He became head chef after only one month. In 1979 he took six months 'educational sabbatical' in France, eating and working in 3-star establishments.
Returning to Brinkley's as head chef, Antony changed the menus according to his experience gained in France. Next was Dan's Restaurant in Chelsea, where, as head chef in 1980 he changed its character from café to haute cuisine, propelling its image into the pages of glossy magazines and Sunday supplements.
It was in 1981 that Antony opened Ménage a Trois in Knightsbridge (widely known to be the Princess of Wales' favourite restaurant) to abundant publicity and reviews: it was the only restaurant in London to serve just starters and puddings. The restaurant and Antony received a tremendous amount of press coverage.
He was also the first chef/patron to be chosen to open and operate the restaurant at One Ninety Queen's Gate, a unique club with an abundance of style, designed exclusively for the restaurant industry. The restaurant won the Time Out Eating Guide's Best New Restaurant award in 1990 and featured in Egon Ronay's Guide 1991 as a new entry with two stars.
In 1990, Antony opened Bistro 190 adjoining One Ninety Queen's Gate, with a Mediterranean-biased menu and affordable prices. He became Managing Director of the Simpsons of Cornhill Group for which he launched dell'Ugo in Frith Street, which achieved extensive press coverage and where the accent was on robust and hearty Mediterranean and British food. Following this enormously successful formula he opened Zoe in St. Christopher's Place to rave reviews, Café dell'Ugo in the City of London, Atrium in Westminster, Palio in Notting Hill Gate, Drones in Belgravia and De Cecco in Parsons Green.
Antony left the Simpsons of Cornhill group at the beginning of 1997 and now runs his own very popular neighbourhood restaurant Notting Grill in Holland Park, which specialises in organic meat, fish and vegetables. He followed Notting Grill with the equally popular Kew Grill in Richmond, which is in the same vein as Notting Grill, with delicious well-hung meat and the best possible produce available. Anotny then went on to acquire Barnes Grill and has just recently added Windsor Grill to the empire. Antony has two new pubs The Greyhound in Rotherfield Peppard and The Lamb at Satwell, both in Oxfordshire. Antony's latest acquisition is Windsor Grill.
In March 1988 he won the Mouton Rothschild Menu Competition, and shortly before in December 1987 the most prestigious accolade: the Meilleur Ouvrier de Grande Bretagne (MOGB) - the chef's Oscar - which is the Academie Culinaire's competition, held every four years, to find the most talented chefs in the country. He is one of only seven chefs to have merited the lifelong title so far. In 1989, he represented Great Britain in the Bocuse d'Or, which is a bi-annual world competition launched by Paul Bocuse and feted by the culinary soul of France itself, attracting extensive media coverage. He was placed 6th out of 26 international competitors.
His talents are not restricted to cooking and eating: his powerful imagination and flair for interior design are additional factors contributing to the success of his ventures.
In 1998 Antony became resident studio chef and main presenter for BBC2's Food & Drink programme. He was a Ready Steady Cook regular and also appeared on the amazingly popular Celebrity Ready Steady Cook. He also took part in the incredibly successful 1999 Ready Steady Cook Roadshow playing to packed theatres across the UK.
He filmed several of his own series for Carlton Food Network: a 78 part series called Worrall Thompson Cooks, followed by a 26 part series Simply Antony, Antony's Scotland (13 parts), So You Think You Can't Cook, filmed at the 1997 BBC Good Food Show, a five part series called Retrospectives which looked at dinner party food since the 1950s, Antony's Morocco on location in Morocco, and More Simply Antony.
His final series for Carlton Food Network was Master and Servant with James Martin. Antony regularly guests-presents and cooks on Good Food Live (UK Food Channel), and since mid 2003 was the presenter of BBC1's hugely popular, Saturday Kitchen. In June 2004 the UK Food Channel broadcast a series of 10 half-hour programmes called simply Worrall Thompson, an entertaining mix of food programme and fly on the wall documentary.
He has guested on many programmes, including ITV's This Morning, GMTV, Hot Chefs, MasterChef, Junior MasterChef, Home Front, Channel 4's Light Lunch and Quisine as well as Have I Got News For You, Question Time, Richard and Judy, Shooting Stars, TFI Friday, The Clothes Show, Live and Kicking, The Kumars at No. 42, Bookworm, Celebrity Mastermind, Heaven and Earth, Pet Rehab, Through the Keyhole, Going Going, Gone, Celebrities Under Pressure, Freddie Star's Christmas Special, Country File, Nation's Favourite Food, Newsnight and Children In Need specials.
He has also fronted a 30 minute programme for Channel 4, Stir Fry, looking at the quality of food in prisons. He was a team captain on BBC Radio 4's Question of Taste with wine expert Oz Clarke. He has guested on Radio 4's 'Broadcasting House' and regularly reviews the papers on LBC. Antony was twice the winner of The Weakest Link Chef Special and appeared on Panorama presenting an item on the Fairtrade issue on behalf of the 2003 Comic Relief project.
He is increasingly in demand by broadcasters to comment on and discuss serious food issues such as diabetes, obesity, nutrition and the eating habits of children. Antony previously presented the hugely successful Saturday Kitchen, which became so popular during his tenure, the BBC transferred it from its BBC 2 slot to it's current BBC 1 slot.
He presented ITV 1's exciting live cookery show, Saturday Cooks! and is currently on our screens with Daily Cooks Challenge. Antony also films a special festive edition of the show, Christmas Cooks!, in December each year.
Antony's books include The Small and Beautiful Cookbook (Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1984), Supernosh with wine writer Malcolm Gluck (Faber & Faber 1993), Modern Bistrot Cooking published by Headline in May 1994 and in Spring 1996 Sainsbury's Quick and Easy Fish. He contributed a regular weekly column for The Sunday Times under the title 30 Minute Menus, and Headline published a collection of the recipes in 1995. He co-authored with Brian Turner Ready Steady Cook One. Sainsbury's published Quick and Easy Winter Warmers and Headline published The ABC of AWT.
He has written a weekly restaurant review column for the Daily Express and he currently writes a cookery column for The Express on Sunday Magazine, a weekly food feature for Saturday Express, a cookery book column for the Express, as well as a monthly column for Good Food magazine.
He has just completed the eighth edition of his tenth edition of At Home with Antony Worrall Thompson. Antony has also published The Top 100 Recipes from the Food & Drink TV Series (BBC Books) and Ready Steady Cook, The Top 100 Beef Recipes (BBC Books) and his hard hitting autobiography, Raw (Transword).
His recent books include the astonishingly successful GI Diet (Kyle Cathie Ltd) which proved an international hit and has educated many people in following the Gylcemic Index, his follow up book, GL Load (Kyle Cathie Ltd), has proved just as successful. Barbecues and Grilling (Kyle Cathie) followed and has been a summer smash. His latest publications are Antony's Weekend Coobook (BBC Books), Real Family Food (Mitchell Beazley) and Saturday Cooks Cookbook (Mitchell Beazley).
Antony is a regular judge for the Academie Culinaire's Annual Awards of Excellence. Until recently he was Chairman of the Restaurateurs' Association of Great Britain. He speaks to students at catering colleges around the country and offers opportunities to apprentices to work for him.
He also organises the Young Chef of the Year competition, sponsored by American Express. Since 1981 Antony has taken consultancies in restaurants in Bombay, with the Taj Hotel Group; in Melbourne and Stockholm with private backers and in New York, again with the Taj Group. The Oriental, Bangkok invited him to be Guest Chef in their restaurant for two weeks in August, 1992 for their annual Grouse promotion.
Other promotions include The Mansion House, Phoenix and Bergerac Wines, Bergerac. He regularly does live cookery demonstrations at events around the country including BBC Good Food Show, Harrods, Ideal Home, The Hyatt in Sydney and Melbourne, The Restaurant Show, the Dublin Food Show and British Business Forum in Oman.
He does outside catering for selected events such as the inauguration of the Channel Tunnel; Kim Wilde's wedding; Audio/Polo events, Southampton Boat Show official restaurant (AWT at Sea), Art and Antiques (London), Edinburgh Television Festival; the Motor Show for Daewoo Cars; The Home Show, Taste of London, and he numbers Rory Bremner and Tim Rice amongst his private clients.
He is passionate about organic farming and grows many herbs and vegetables for his restaurant. Despite such an energetic professional lifestyle, he still manages to find time for art, antiques, tennis and swimming (he swam the Channel when he was sixteen), gardening and of course his wife Jay and their two young children, plus two dogs called Jess and Rodney, two cats, twelve pigs and a variety of fish and chickens who all live at his country cottage retreat by the banks of the Thames. Antony has recently bought an avocado farm in Spain where he and his family retreat to when they can find time.
Antony has been working with a number of manufacturers on an Antony Worrall Thompson licensed range of food and non-food products. The first in market was a range of best selling small electrical kitchen appliances developed with Breville.
Antony emerged from the jungle in 2003 as one of the nation's favourite celebrities in the ITV series I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.