Tom Aikens is one of the UK’s most acclaimed and inspirational chefs, owing to his innovative style and creative interpretation of modern French cuisine. With a father and grandfather in the wine industry, it wasn’t long before Norfolk-born Tom Aikens discovered French gastronomy and the central importance of food in his life.
After gaining invaluable experience cooking with some of the most respected chefs in the business; including Jöel Robuchon, and Gerard Boyer at Reims in Paris, Tom was appointed Head Chef of Pied à Terre. At 26, Tom became the youngest British chef ever awarded two Michelin stars.
In 2003, Tom opened his own, eponymous restaurant in Chelsea; Tom Aikens Restaurant. On 12th January 2012, the Chelsea restaurant re-opened following the move towards a more informal style of fine dining and interior refurbishment whilst upholding the culinary excellence found in like-minded establishments. In October, the restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star for the 2013 Great Britain and Ireland guide.
Tom’s second restaurant, the brasserie-style Tom’s Kitchen, opened in Chelsea in 2006. In conjunction with Compass Group, Tom also launched a second Tom’s Kitchen site at Somerset House in September 2009. This June sees the arrival of a third site, Tom’s Kitchen, Deli and Bar in Canary Wharf, and the restaurant group’s first International flagship opening in Istanbul in August.
Tom has written three books; Cooking (2006), Fish (2008), and Easy (2011) and is a keen charity supporter recently parttaking in ‘Great British Menu does Comic Relief’ with his ‘Chicken/Egg, Egg/Chicken’ dish winning as the starter for the charity banquet.
Young talented Spanish chef Omar Allibhoy is creating a buzz within the UK food scene and at the age of 29 already has much to celebrate. Omar is the owner of the critically acclaimed Tapas Revolution in Westfield London and Bluewater, Kent. He is also the Executive Chef at London’s renowned El Pirata Detapas, which was featured in Gordon Ramsay’s Best Restaurant. Known for his culinary skills in traditional Spanish cuisine, Omar’s food has been described as ‘exquisite’ and ‘authentic’.
Growing up, Omar preferred to spend more time cooking than playing with his friends, “when I was five I started cooking with my mum, it’s amazing to think at such a young age I was able to make flans, crème caramel’s and even French omelettes. I was always whisking something in a bowl.” Adds Omar.
It was not long before Omar’s longing to develop his culinary skills became a realisation after he enrolled into an evening cookery class while still attending school during the day. Omar also worked in numerous restaurants to gain professional kitchen experience however, his career truly took off after training under the watchful eye of world-renowned three Michelin starred chef Ferran Adria of El Bulli. “This was the making of my career, learning from a chef that is as meticulous, passionate and gifted as Ferran was a dream come true and I really came into my own element.” Says Omar.
In 2008, Omar’s dream of taking traditional Spanish cuisine across the channel came to fruition after leaving his home country for London. He worked in a variety of restaurants including Gordon Ramsay’s Maze before launching El Pirata Detapas. El Pirata Detapas narrowly missed out on a semi-final place in ‘Ramsay’s Best Restaurant’ to Fino owners Sam and Eddie Hart.
Omar launched Tapas Revolution at the end of 2010 and the restaurant opened with fantastic reviews from leading critics and food writers from The Daily Telegraph, Time Out and The Guardian. John Lanchester from The Guardian said: “Omar Allibhoy has taken on the task of opening a proper, serious tapas bar. I can’t recommend Tapas Revolution highly enough” whilst Tom Parker-Bowles from the Mail on Sunday declared “Tapas Revolution is a step above… if he (Omar) can replicate, nationwide, what he’s doing at Westfield, there’s real hope.”
Omar’s simple food and flair for Spanish cuisine has awarded him recognition within the industry by winning last year’s Caterer and Hotelkeeper’s Acorn Award for ‘Rising Star’. In addition, the London Lifestyle Awards shortlisted Tapas Revolution for ‘Best Restaurant. When he’s not in his kitchen, Omar can be found on popular television programmes including, This Morning, Masterchef, Perfect, Drop Down Menu, and Saturday Cookbook.
Growing up in Bilbao in the Basque region of Spain, Nieves Barragán Mohacho was introduced to the importance of well-sourced and seasonal cooking from a young age. Her mother spent much time caring for Nieves’ grandmother in the house which meant that Nieves was around to learn basic cooking techniques, participate in the day to day needs of the kitchen prep – from peeling vegetables to keeping a keen eye on simmering stocks and soups, which progressed to preparing entire meals for the family.
Surrounded by an abundance of excellent local produce and imbued with the strong culinary traditions of the Basque country, Nieves nurtured those skills and her inherent sense of seasons and locality progressing them to the level of a professional chef.
Two months before it opened in 2003, Nieves joined the kitchen brigade as Sous-Chef at Sam and Eddie Harts’ Fino in Charlotte Street. Four years later she would take the reigns as Head Chef.
In 2008 Sam and Eddie found a site on Frith Street for their long planned homage to Barcelona’s Cal Pep and when Barrafina opened Nieves was given both kitchens to oversee as Executive Head Chef.
Nieves applies those same cooking techniques and principles she learnt while helping her mother to an innovative take on Spanish food. Her tapas menus are dictated by seasonality, careful sourcing of ingredients and skills honed over years of cooking professionally.
Monisha Bharadwaj is an award winning author and a food writer based in London, UK. She was awarded ‘Cookery Writer of the Year’ in 2003 and her books have been shortlisted for awards such as the Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards, the Andre Simon Award and the Jacob’s Creek World Food Media Awards.
Monisha contributes to several magazines and newspapers such as Elle, Delicious, The Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Telegraph and regularly cooks on TV for Great Food Live and Bites on UK Food and for the South African Broadcasting Channel. She has been a judge on Iron Chef America (The Food Network, USA) and cooked for ‘Chef on a Shoestring’ (CBS Network, USA) She has written 14 books and travels around the UK teaching her simple and delicious style of Indian cooking at various cookery schools.
Celia Brooks' inventive style of cooking has made her an established name on the cookery shelf. Born in Colorado, USA, she moved to Britain after university. She worked for several years as a private chef for the film director Stanley Kubrick and running her own catering business.
She has written seven cookbooks, including the international bestseller New Vegetarian, and has contributed to many others. She conveys her passion for food in every way possible, through books, journalism, consulting, live demos, and has her own business called “Gastrotours”, conducting tours around London’s foodie hotspots.
Celia wrote a weekly column for The Times online called “Urban Farmer” about her allotment in North London, and a column called “Grow to Eat” for BBC Good Food Magazine. Her latest book, “New Urban Farmer”, was published in March 2010 by Quadrille. She makes regular TV appearances on the UKTV Food channel’s Market Kitchen and the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen.
Adam Byatt, born into a family of chefs and food lovers, has forged a place at the heart of modern British cooking; reviving classic dishes and applying a unique elegance to honest and unpretentious fare. Adam’s enthusiasm for quality British food is manifest in his use of the finest locally sourced produce and his desire to share and enjoy cooking and dining with family and friends.
Never shying away from getting his hands dirty to forage, hunt or fish, Adam’s experiential approach to cooking has been embraced by outdoor enthusiasts and epicureans alike. Using every opportunity to teach his young children and the broader community about the joys of following food from pasture to plate, Adam’s affinity with the outdoors is evident in all of his recipes, which are pieced together with cunning creativity.
As Chef Patron of Trinity and Bistro Union restaurants in Clapham, Adam has won over the likes of London’s most ruthless critics, Giles Coren of The Times regarding his experience at Trinity, ‘As close to an absolutely perfect experience of eating out as it is possible to have.’ Trinity was named ‘London Restaurant of the Year’ at the AA Hospitality Awards in 2008 and awarded ‘Best Local Restaurant’ at the Time Out Food and Drink Awards in 2006.
Adam’s first book How to Eat In was published by Random House in April 2010 and is full of enduring recipes that take classic heritage cooking techniques into the modern era. As one of Britain’s leading chefs and culinary experts, Adam’s skills can also be seen on top-rated BBC 1 programmes Saturday Kitchen and Celebrity MasterChef, on which he regularly features as a guest presenter.
Javier is a qualified pâtissier with over 15 years experience in the catering and hospitality industry. He began his training in his hometown of Barcelona (Spain), at the renowned and distinguished School of Pâtisserie Hoffman (www.hofmann-bcn.com) before moving to the U.K. to train further at Westminster Kingsway College where he gained an NVQ3 Qualification.
Working first at Browns Hotel, Les Ambassadeurs Club and the former 50 St. James Club, Javier progressed into contract catering focussing primarily on Director Fine Dining for Blue Chip Companies.
Upon becoming a pâtissier, Javier made one of his childhood wishes come true. He had always felt fascinated by the window displays of cakes, candies and chocolates of the pastry shops in Barcelona; not only enthusiastic about buying the sweets and chocolates but hoping too to one day learn how to craft them.
Javier’s teaching stays loyal to his foundation recipes gathered over years of training while incorporating traditional and modern elements picked up on his travels and through his eagerness for self learning. Javier is also a qualified cook and has developed this career parallel to his pastry expertise in the U.K.
Jenny Chandler discovered her love of Mediterranean food whilst living in Barcelona as part of her university degree course. She went on to train at Leith's School of Food and Wine before embarking upon a decade of cooking and travel.
Jenny spent 5 years as a chef on an Italian yacht and during this time lived in Spain, Italy and France and travelled extensively in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Later, her time in Australia and America included spells preparing Director's lunches, catering, working in restaurants and feeding large families on their holidays. This has given Jenny an opportunity to gather recipes, techniques and experiences from all over the world.
More recently Jenny worked as a restaurant consultant for a Barcelona-based, Spanish boutique hotel chain. She has written two Spanish cookbooks, The Food of Northern Spain and The Real Taste of Spain and her new book, Pulse, is published this September.
Jenny lives in Bristol and spends most of her time writing (jennychandlerblog.com) and teaching at her own school The Plum Cooking Company, at The Bertinet Kitchen in Bath, and various London establishments.
Growing up in a small town in Fife, William Curley discovered a passion for gastronomy. He trained at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire and then worked at many Michelin-starred establishments with the most respected chefs in the business, including Marc Meneau at L’Esperance in France, Pierre Koffmann at La Tante Claire, Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and Marco Pierre White at The Oak Room. At just 27 years old, William then became the youngest Chef Patissier at The Savoy where he met his wife Suzue.
William and Suzue’s success lead to the opening of their first shop in Richmond in 2004, just off The Green. In November 2009, William launched his second venture in Orange Square, Belgravia. The store is an idyllic chocolate-lover’s haven with a simple, Japanese inspired décor that provides the perfect backdrop to a host of exquisite chocolate creations.
June 2011 saw the brand launch into Harrods with a chocolate concession in the Food Halls and patisseries sold in the Harrods patisserie counter.
William has picked up many awards over the years, including the title ‘Britain’s Best Chocolatier’, awarded to him by the Academy of Chocolate on four occasions and Pastry Chef of the Year.
In 2012 William’s book Couture Chocolate won Cookery Book of the Year, and the brand was acknowledged with William becoming a member of the iconic pastry association Relais Desserts International.
Born in Abruzzo, Italy, Francesca studied Italian History and Literature in Rome before embarking on a culinary career which led her to Singapore in 1994 and then New York in 1998.
Author of 'Pasta In A Wok' (Singapore 1994), culinary columnist and president of 'Erba Pepe' (A non-profit organisation for the promotion of Abruzzo culture) Francesca has found many avenues to express her passion for Italian food, language and traditions. Currently based in Milan, Francesca continues to travel all over the world teaching and working as a consultant for the food industry.
Maria’s deceptively simple, multilayered dishes influenced by the cuisine from the Orient to the Occident, has won her many accolades.
Her award-winning second cookbook, Full of Flavour (2011, Kyle Books) develops themes expounded in her bestselling debut title, The Modern Vegetarian, (2009, Kyle Books) where she coaxes the reader to wake their palates with unique flavour combinations.
Not only has she appeared on numerous television programmes, including Saturday Kitchen, Market Kitchen and the recent series Perfect, but Maria has also contributed to a wide variety of publications from the Guardian to BBC Good Food Magazine, and has been hailed by The Independent as one of 10 Female Chefs to watch.
Her third book, Smashing Plates, (2013, Kyle Books) draws on her Anglo Greek heritage. In this title, Maria smashes outdated notions of traditional Greek food and gives the cuisine a thorough shake up; breaking the rules with bold new flavours and exciting ingredients, redefining Greek cuisine as we know it.
John is a well seasoned chef with a wealth of knowledge and experience. He started his career spending a year in a gastronomic restaurant in the Alps before returning to London to study at Westminster College.
He went on to spend s number of years at 5 star hotels including The Ritz, Park Lane and Browns and then turned his hand to modern European cuisine in the capital and abroad.
Coming from a multicultural background and being well travelled, John prides himself on the authentic nature of his cuisine. The last five years has seen him establish his own catering company whilst teaching at cookery schools nationwide. He has a calm, friendly and informative teaching style and his motto is "time spent in the kitchen is time well invested".
Ursula Ferrigno is a talented cook and a prolific food writer with a deep love of Italian food. She is half-Italian and learned to cook as a child by assisting her grandmother preparing the traditional family dishes. She returns regularly to Italy, to visit family and to teach cookery.
She writes for numerous food magazines including Taste Italia, American Gourmet, Olive and Good Food and has been teaching cookery for more than 15 years. Having been brought up in an environment in which bread was present with every meal, Ursula is a passionate baker and teaches both professionals and amateurs to make an array of national and regional Italian breads from ciabatta and focaccia to volcanic stromboli.
Born in Iran, Sabrina Ghayour is a self-taught cook and food writer who hosts the hugely popular ‘Sabrina’s Kitchen’ supper club at her home in London, specialising in Persian and Middle Eastern flavours.
Her website www.sabrinaghayour.com and Twitter account (@SabrinaGhayour ) have become a ‘go to’ destination for Persian and Middle-Eastern recipes and ingredient wisdom. Her supper clubs have been featured in The Times, Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph and her recipes have recently been featured in Delicious Magazine and Sainsburys Magazine.
Leading the trend in Persian and Middle Eastern cuisine, her recent collaborations include hosting her own ‘Passage to Persia’ pop-up with Anna Hansen at the Modern Pantry with guest chefs Ben Spalding, Omar Allibhoy, Alexis Gauthier and Tim Anderson all cooking Persian food. Sabrina is also now a regular guest Chef at Oliver Peyton’s ‘Friday Night Socials’ pop-ups at the National Cafe in The National Gallery. This summer will see Sabrina take to the stage at BBC Good Food Show in June as well Jamie Oliver’s The Big Feastival festival in August, doing cookery demonstrations.
A seasoned cookery teacher, she teaches at Divertimenti cookery school as well as private classes. Sabrina specialises in cooking up colourful, moreish dishes with Eastern flavours in an abundant ‘Mezze’ style with unique recipes and techniques.
Sabrina combines a creative use of ingredients with passion and flair to produce the kind of food that is not only vibrant and visual but nourishes the body and mind and always leaves you wanting more.
Rachel Green, TV cook and author, is known as a fervent campaigner for the promotion of seasonal British meat and vegetables. With an ancestry that includes 14 generations of farmers, British produce is a field she is very knowledgeable in and passionate about. From asparagus and peas to game and shallots her exuberant and informative demonstrations are entertaining and well received.
She performs all over the country from Chatsworth Farm Shop to the Royal Show and Game Fair. A regular on both television and radio, she's cooked sausages and flageolet beans on the Alan Titchmarsh Show, prepared breakfast every day for a week for Terry Wogan as part of Farmhouse Breakfast Week and cooked up a storm with hare on Market Kitchen. Her latest book, Sausages! (foreword by Jimmy Doherty) waxes lyrical of the joys and versatility of using this stalwart of the British menu.
Henry Harris is Chef Patron of the award-winning ‘Racine’ in Knightsbridge. His unflagging enthusiasm for traditional French, religiously seasonal and flavour packed menus have firmly established Racine as a neighbourhood favourite for almost a decade.
From a country estate in Northumberland to a lone fisherman in Wales, Harris’s ingredients are only surpassed in provenance, by his creative skills as one of London’s most acclaimed chefs. Before opening ‘Racine’, Henry worked in some of London’s top kitchens including ‘Hiliare’ and ‘Bibendum’ with Simon Hopkinson. In 1992, he was Executive Chef at the opening of Harvey Nichols ‘Fifth Floor Restaurant’ and participated enormously in the overall design and branding of the restaurant.
He released his first cookbook called ‘Harvey Nicholls Fifth Floor Cookbook’ in 1998. His encyclopaedic knowledge of gastronomy has also ensured his demand in writing for various national publications and magazines and he has appeared on BBC’s ‘Saturday Kitchen’.
With heritage like Valentina’s, it is no wonder she is such a well-respected authority on Italian food and food culture.
Tracing her family back to 1369 through the illustrious Sforza dynasty, Valentina is the youngest member of a large Anglo-Italian family of gourmets. Educated in Italy, Valentina brought her qualifications for teaching and cooking from Rome to London in 1976, where she built her reputation primarily as a private chef until the publication of her first award-winning cookery book in 1984; Perfect Pasta.
The award winning author of over 30 books on Italian food, Valentina is an experienced and enthusiastic teacher, sharing her food philosophy of seasonal local produce served with minimum fuss and maximum care.
Now the proprietor, principal tutor and regulator at Cucina Valentina and a regular face at food fairs in the UK, Valentina stills finds time to host bespoke cookery courses and undertake private catering commissions. In between her hectic teaching schedule you’ll also find her popping up on radio and television from time to time!
As President of the London chapter of Les Dames D’Escoffier, Valentina is committed to strengthening the position of professional women in the world of food, beverage and hospitality, and uses her wealth of experience to mentor young women who dream of a career within it.
Valentina's latest book is her culinary autobiography, her Foodoir entitled ‘Fiori di Zucca’, published in June 2013.
Born in Australia, Samantha has always had a keen interest in a wide variety of fresh foods and cuisines. “As a small child I remember vividly going with my parents to the bustling fruit and vegetable market as well as often to the Sydney Fish Markets. The smells and sounds of these markets were always captivating and that is certainly where my passion for food first began.”
After completing her apprenticeship at The Park Hyatt Hotel, Sydney, Samantha enjoyed 2 years working in Somerset at The Castle Hotel whilst it retained its Michelin Star. During this time she was able to gain an amazing insight into the country lifestyle and the important role that farmers and food suppliers take in the restaurant industry.
Following another few years working in Sydney, Samantha once again moved back to the UK and is now enjoying life in London, where she has taken a slightly different angle to the hospitality industry. “I have always felt that cooking should be enjoyable and that everybody should be able to cook something at home! I think is extremely important that, from a young age, people understand the process that food goes through to become a meal as well as what a wide variety ingredients taste like alone and combined. Teaching children and young adults is not only inspiring but also extremely satisfying and rewarding, no matter what a dish looks like they are always so proud of their results.”
Atsuko has been sharing her knowledge and techniques of Japanese cooking with a series of courses, which introduces family favourites, alongside Shojin Ryori dishes, a super-healthy vegan cuisine of Buddhist origins, in which she trained professionally.
Her passion for food and her love of teaching transpires in her classes at ‘Atsuko's Kitchen’, which are amongst the most popular in London and now, also, at ‘Divertimenti’. Her classes are informal and hands-on, resembling more of a dinner party with friends than a classroom lesson. Her down-to-earth and unpretentious approach to cuisine combined with her talent to create delicious, simple to prepare, fashionable meals is an ideal way to experience the Japanese philosophy of elegance and simplicity.
Jennifer Joyce is an American born, self-taught chef. Her specialty is teaching people how to create intense flavours and demystifying exotic ingredients. As a food writer and stylist, she contributes regularly to BBC Olive, BBC Good Food, and M & S Magazine. She was the food editor for New Woman magazine and contributed to Sainsbury's magazine, Elle Deco and The Telegraph newspaper.
She has presented cookery classes at Divertimenti for over 5 years offering a wide variety of themes. She is currently working on her 7th book having published titles like Diva Cooking, Small Bites, and The Well Dressed Salad. Along with appearances on NBC's Good Morning America, BBC's Good Food Live and Full on Food, she has presented two series for Taste CFN.
Tom Kime has worked in some of the most famous restaurants in London and is the author of Tasting, Sweet and Spicy, Street Food, Asian Bites and the co—author of Fish Tales.
He has presented 3 TV series and appears on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. He has written for Olive and BBC Good Food Magazine, consults for top supermarkets and food producers worldwide and currently lives in Australia, running the sustainable seafood café Fish & Co. in Sydney.
Atul Kochhar is an Indian born, British based chef, restaurateur and television personality. His take on modern Indian cuisine and reputation for pushing the boundaries of traditional Indian food has made him one of the most critically acclaimed chefs in Britain.
Atul was the first Indian chef to receive a Michelin star during his time at Tamarind restaurant and went on to win a second star with the opening of his first solo venture- Benares restaurant in London in 2007.
He has appeared on television shows such as MasterChef and Great British Menu and is a regular guest on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. In 2010 Atul launched his own series - Atul’s Spice Kitchen: Malaysia.
Bruno was born in Bordeaux, southwest France, in 1961. He attended the Lycée Hotelier de Talence, which led to his first job as a Commis Chef at the Hyatt Regency in Brussels. After National Service he moved to London in 1982 where he worked at La Tante Claire with Pierre Koffmann as Commis Chef, and then at Gastronome One in the New King’s Road as Head Chef, where he was awarded the 1985 Good Food Guide’s Young Chef of the Year.
Bruno then joined Raymond Blanc in Oxford as Head Chef at the two Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, and then became Chef/Manager at Le Petit Blanc in Oxford in 1986. He then returned to London as Head Chef at the Four Seasons, Inn on the Park, where he earned a Michelin star within a year. In 1992, Bruno went into partnership with restaurateur Pierre Condou, opening Bistrot Bruno in Soho, which earned The Times Restaurant of the Year in 1993. Following the success of Bistrot Bruno, they opened L’Odéon in 1995, which was also awarded The Times Restaurant of the Year.
In 1998, Bruno joined Gruppo with restaurateur Oliver Peyton as Development Chef, where he was responsible for maintaining the standards for The Atlantic Bar and Grill, Mash (London and Manchester), Coast, The Admiralty, and setting up Isola. He then decided on a lifestyle change, and moved his family to Brisbane, Australia, where he opened Bruno’s Tables.
In February 2010, Bruno opened Bistrot Bruno Loubet at The Zetter Hotel in Clerkenwell. The restaurant won the award for highest new entry at #3 in the UK at the 2010 National Restaurant Awards.
Bruno launched Grain Store, in King’s Cross, in June 2013, with his business partners, Mark Sainsbury and Michael Benyan. Grain Store explores a different side to Bruno’s skill and creativity. Although many dishes have a meat or fish element, this menu gives vegetables equal billing, if not the starring role.
Bruno has written three cookbooks - Cuisine Courante (Pavilion, 1992), Bistrot Bruno, (Macmillan, 1995) and Mange Tout (Ebury, 2013). Bruno has made various TV appearances, including his own 13-part series, Chez Bruno, for the Carlton Food Network, as well as stints on BBC’s Hot Chefs, Junior MasterChef, and Masterchef UK as a guest chef and mentor.
The title of Jane’s book Make it Easy – Delicious get-ahead recipes for happy home cooking (New Holland, 2012) sums up her style of cooking and what she aims to convey through her demonstrations. Her fresh modern approach, tips, short-cuts and original style of presentation appeal to novice and experienced cooks alike.
Her recipes are easy, uncomplicated, foolproof (she says there is no way she is going to demonstrate a recipe that might not work in front of a demanding audience), contemporary, beautifully presented and can largely be prepared in advance. Invaluable for the home cook, especially when entertaining.
Jane is an experienced cook who runs popular cookery demonstrations from her home and around the country.Having trained at The Cordon Bleu in London, she has taught at Leiths School of Food & Wine, worked at Leiths Good Food, contributed and produced recipes and food for cookery books and magazines as a Home Economist, and run her own successful London catering business. She writes a fortnightly food column for The Journal the North East’s daily newspaper and a monthly column for The Northumbrian Magazine as well as contributing to other publications. Jane sends seasonal recipes via a newsletter from her website www.janelovett.com and you can follow her on Twitter @Jane_Lovett
Jane’s philosophy is that cooking should be fun and not frightening and there is plenty of fun to be had at her demonstrations here at Divertimenti.
Alex Mackay is a cook, cookery teacher, cookery writer and a regular on Cookery Television. He was the Guild of Food Writers Cookery Journalist of the Year in 2006 and was runner up in 2007 and 2008. His book, Cooking In Provence, won a World Cookbook Award and was Short-listed for Best First Book by the Guild of Food Writers. He is the Merchant Gourmet Cook, teaches Delia Smith's Food and Wine Workshops at Norwich City Football Club and was the cookery School Director for 3 years at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons followed by 6 years at his own cookery school Le Baou d’Infer in Provence. Alex’s Cookery School was put in the world top ten by the Sunday Times and Conde Nest Traveler. Alex is a regular on Ready Steady Cook, proud father of two and a patron of the Kids Cookery School.
Andy McLeish is Chef Patron at Michelin-starred Chapter One in Kent. The Nottingham born chef takes provenance seriously, sourcing most of the produce for Chapter One locally. He also shoots and butchers the deer himself for the venison that is served at the restaurant.
Since Andy’s arrival at Chapter One in 2000, the restaurant has gone from strength to strength - winning a number of awards. First, a Michelin Star and two years later the AA UK Restaurant of The Year prize for 2003/2004, as well as four AA rosettes. It was the first time a restaurant had been awarded two major AA awards.
Andy’s style of cooking is simple yet robust with a heavy emphasis on flavours; often taking traditional dishes and mixing it with modern cooking techniques. Previous to Chapter One, Andy headed up the kitchen at The Landmark, after spells working for The Ritz and under Nico Ladenis at Chez Nico.
Deborah Miller grew up in the Irish countryside in a drafty old Georgian house. The only room that was always warm was the kitchen, fitted with a large solid fuel Aga. Everyone found excuses to be there, cooking was the best!
A linguist, with a degree from Trinity College Dublin, she came to England, settled down with a family, a German pointer and an Aga. She said that she didn’t know how to cook on anything else. Disillusioned as an academic, she was invited to become an Aga demonstrator and has for the last 10 years demonstrated all over the country. She is passionate about using good quality ingredients, which are locally sourced when possible.
She has travelled widely and cooked in France, Australia and more recently Burma, she even went to a Vietnamese Cookery School. She cooks for private functions and enjoys helping people organise fundraising events in their homes or larger venues.
Her aim in all her demonstrations is to enthuse and inspire everyone so that when they go home they believe that they too can cook successfully and enjoy it. Asked what was the best feedback she ever got from a demonstration, she said, ‘Easy, I got an email from a lady saying, “Thank you so much, my husband says he has now fallen in love with me all over again - now that I can cook!”.
By the age of 15, Sophie Michell was cooking sixty covers a night at a gastro-pub in Somerset. From the age of 4, Sophie was taught to make cakes and pastries by her grandma Ruth and her great-grandmother Mary was a professional who cooked for the Queen Mother and Duke of Westminster. Sophie still has Mary’s Escoffier cookery book from 1917.
Sophie’s paternal great-grandfather was Admiral John Godfrey, who was ‘M’ in the Bond books and originator of the phrase ‘shaken, not stirred…’ with reference to his favourite martini.
Sophie’s family did a six-month trip to Bali, Indonesia and Australia when she was 12. The exotic foods, tastes and colours, which Sophie experienced on the trip, were life-changing and she knew that food was her passion from then onwards.
At 18, Sophie trained at Butler’s Wharf Chef School, London, with work experience at Le Gavroche, followed by jobs at Michelin-starred Greenhouse, the Lanesborough and the Embassy.
As private Chef for model Claudia Schiffer for two years, Sophie developed her interest in healthy eating and has worked privately for other starry clients such as Leonardo de Caprio. She has also continued to cater for high profile events and most recently had a successful POP UP at The Hospital Club, London.
Sophie has made many TV appearances over the years and has published four cookbooks including the best selling Cook Yourself Thin (Michael Joseph, 2007).
Sophie now has embarked on her most exciting chapter to date, taking on the role as Britain’s youngest female Executive Chef at Belgraves Hotel, where her contemporary seafood restaurant opened in September 2013.
I moved from New York to London five years ago in order to pursue a culinary career that would allow me to develop my passion for cooking and good food. I completed the ‘Le Grande Diploma’ from Le Cordon Bleu London in 2006 before being appointed head Chef at Café Divertimenti Marylebone. As an instructor at the Divertimenti Cookery School I am able to exercise my enthusiasm for introducing the young and inexperienced to the joys of cooking, with the Cooking with Confidence course and Growing Gourmet programs that I run.
My approach to food is that it should be kept simple, wholesome with a focus on flavours. In addition to my work with Divertimenti, I also undertake commercial and private catering projects that enable me to keep at the forefront of changing tastes and cuisines. I am currently researching material for a series of Children’s recipe books that I hope will give parents a rich source of ideas for involving children in the kitchen, while offering healthy and hearty meals for all the family.
Jane left her career in advertising far behind to follow her passion for food. After training at Leiths School of Food and wine, she honed her skills with a wealth of culinary experience working throughout the food industry in restaurants, catering and food media.
The focus of Jane’s culinary expertise is to inspire confidence of cooking and her love of food to others through cookery writing and teaching. Jane is passionate about teaching cookery, demystifying seemingly complicated techniques and encouraging people to have a go and get into the kitchen. Her cooking is uncomplicated seasonal British food with a particular flair and enthusiasm for all things baking.
Jane's first book The Vegetarian Pantry was released internationally in Feb 2013.
Silvia Nacamulli is a freelance chef, teacher and cookery writer. Her speciality is Italian-Jewish cooking and is considered an authority on the subject.
Raised in Rome, Silvia came to London in 1998 and began her catering business in 2002 'La Cucina di Silvia' (Cooking for the Soul). She has taught at the Divertimenti Cookery School for the last 6 years. In addition to teaching and catering, Silvia writes about and lectures on the history of Italian Jewish cooking. This includes a monthly column in the food section of the Jewish Chronicle and regular lectures at the New York University in Florence. She is in the process of writing her first cookery book.
Since childhood, Mioara has enjoyed learning about and experimenting with different ingredients and ways in which to use them. Growing up on a farm was an essential part of this learning and Mioara’s understanding of animal rearing, welfare and butchery as well as a comfort with growing good quality fruits and vegetables stands her in good steed for her career as a chef.
After graduating in Environmental Engineering at the University of Bucharest in 2001, she followed the love of her life to the UK, where they settled together and Mioara joined the team at Divertimenti. She is proud to have seen the cookery school grow and develop over the years and is a regular face at the classes, helping to host and assist as well as to teach her own.Mioara has a warm approach and infectious enthusiasm that translates easily amongst students in the sharing of her tips, techniques and fabulous recipes.
Renowned chef, Ian Pengelley, began working in the hospitality industry aged just 16, as a kitchen porter in a Northamptonshire country club. At a young age his dedication and determination to succeed shone through, it was at this country club that Ian was given the chance to cook as part of the kitchen team. Four years later, Ian decided it was time to move on and relocated to Hong Kong, where he realised his passion for Asian food and culture. With a strong understanding of Cantonese, Ian went on to train in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia,
Vietnam and China before returning home to share his passion for the Orient.
Starting out as a sous chef at the luxury 5 star hotel, The Hempel, Ian quickly climbed the ranks, working at The Birdcage before he became head chef at Cicada. Ian also worked as personal chef to Lady Weinberg (Anouska Hempel) during his early career and in kitchens in Sydney and New York. However, Ian’s talents are probably most noted as the launch Head Chef of E&O, Notting Hill in 2001 where he stayed for two years.
After leaving E&O, Ian was approached by Gordon Ramsay to open a joint venture in 2005, culminating in the Asian cuisine restaurant Pengelley’s, in Knightsbridge. After a year at the difficult location on Sloane Street, Ian Pengelley amicably parted company with Gordon Ramsay Holdings to immediately begin work on his biggest project to date, Gilgamesh.
In 2006, Gilgamesh opened in the heart of Camden Stables Market and offers a unique Eastern gastronomic and entertainment experience. The restaurant, along with Ian’s menu, received critical acclaim with great reviews from influential publications such as Tatler, Evening Standard and Timeout. The cuisine was referred to as “supremely fresh” (Square Meal), and for Ian the restaurant was “a return to form” (Jeremy Wayne).
Ian’s passion for Pan-Asian cuisine is evident in many of his recent projects which have included assisting the opening of M1NT restaurant in Shanghai and training the head chef for the launch of Asian restaurant Red Ginger, of Oceania Cruises – Marina. Having appeared on BBC’s Masterchef several times, Ian enjoys teaching and training other food enthusiasts.
José was planning to become a dental technician in Spain but realised his love of food was bigger than his love of dentistry and completed one year of catering school in Cáceres before working in a restaurant local to his home town. In 1997 Pizarro moved to Madrid to the award-winning Meson de Doña Filo where he cooked 'nueva cocina’ and began his love affair with fresh, brightly flavoured dishes.
He has worked at some of London’s most prestigious Spanish restaurants including Eyre Brothers, Gaudi, and the critically acclaimed Brindisa Tapas Kitchens. Last year he left Brindisa to open his own sherry bar, ‘José’, and restaurant, ‘Pizarro’, in Bermondsey Street, London. He describes his menu as traditional, honest Spanish food for sharing, with some modern twists along the way.
José has appeared on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen three times – as well as on UKTVFood’s Market Kitchen - and his first book ‘Seasonal Spanish Food’ was published in autumn 2009 to great critical acclaim.
Last year Pizarro was shortlisted for an IACP award in the US, which recognises the best in cookbook talent. José has a new book coming out in spring 2012.
Sybille is a French vegetarian, a raw and living food chef, recipe writer and yoga teacher. She was born in Lyon and trained as a traditional chef in a top Parisian cookery school.
She has worked in several restaurants in France and in London; some Michelin star British modern, some traditional French, and has cooked for celebrities in private chalets and homes in Switzerland and London.
As her interest in vegetarian, vegan, and raw and living food kept growing, she started filling the pages of her notebooks with new culinary ideas and focused on creating delicious recipes - full of vitality, nutrients and energy - to complement her enthusiasm for yoga.
Sybille is passionate about sharing her creations and believes healthy food should be exciting, full of flavour and vibrant. ‘It should make you feel good, strong and full of vitality and creativity’, she says.
Alfred Prasad joined Tamarind as Sous Chef in 2001. His flair, innovation and desire to be prominent on the world’s culinary map progressed Alfred to Executive Chef in August 2002.
Tamarind was the first Indian restaurant in the UK and Europe to be awarded a Michelin star which it has now retained for eight consecutive years. Tamarind is one of only five Indian restaurants in the UK and Europe to hold this prestigious award. Alfred’s cuisine is renowned for dishes with panache and verve that explore, create yet retain traditional flavours taking Tamarind to even greater heights.
Alfred graduated from the Institute of Hotel Management, Madras in 1993. After completing his advanced chef training at the ‘Maurya Sheraton’ in Delhi he worked at the legendary ‘Bukhara’ and ‘Dum-Pukht’ restaurants in India. In 1996, Alfred moved to the ‘Sheraton Hotel’ in Madras, where he was Executive Chef at ‘‘Dakshin’ – India's premier south Indian restaurant.
Alfred moved to London in June 1999 and worked as Sous Chef at ‘Veeraswamy’ before joining Tamarind. Today, Alfred has gained industry and public recognition for his cuisine. The Sunday Telegraph says, “The acclaimed chef Alfred Prasad impresses with a boundary pushing modern Indian menu.”
Born in Trinidad and raised between there and the UK, Shivi Ramoutar is a self-taught cook and food-writer, specialising in Caribbean cuisine, who’s food draws heavily on the tropical flavours she was brought up on, with a modern twist.
Her moreish dishes are exciting, varied and encompass a range of influences that have come together in harmony (from European to African to Indian to Chinese) to make Caribbean food the unique cuisine it is today. Shivi’s mission (and passion) is to share these flavours and to show that jerk chicken, rice and peas is just the tip of the wonderful, varied and exciting iceberg that is Caribbean food.
Having spent a year as a consultant chef to The Rum Kitchen chain of Caribbean restaurants, Shivi is now predominantly a pop-up chef, cooking her tropical feasts across restaurants and venues in London and the UK and has appeared at numerous food festivals as well as having collaborated with renowned street food vendors.
Shivi has written for various publications including, most recently, delicious. Magazine and The Sunday Times and has been cited in The Guardian as the “Caribbean food supremo”. Shivi’s first cookbook, “Caribbean Modern: Recipes from the Rum Islands” will be published in June 2015.
Flavia trained as an interior designer in New York before heading home to London to start her own interior design business. She soon found her long lived passions for food, wine and entertaining were getting in the way of the design world and so decided it was finally time to take this passion more seriously and re-train as a chef at ‘Le Cordon Bleu’.
Having found her true calling she went onto work as a professional chef for ‘Restaurant Associates’ in several of their establishments. Her skills nurtured, she then decided to pass on to others what she had learnt by teaching at ‘Leith's School of Food and Wine’, privately and here at ‘The Divertimenti Cookery School’.
When not teaching at Divertimenti she can be found at ‘The Kitchen Experience’, a service she co-founded in 2009 which provides bespoke cookery classes for the home, corporate events and special occasions.
Rachel de Thample has worked in the kitchens of Marco Pierre White, Heston Blumenthal and Peter Gordon. She has been writing on food issues for over a decade: she was Commissioning Editor of Waitrose Food Illustrated for five years and contributed to two Borough Market Cookbooks: Meat and Fish (Civic Book, 2007) and is the author of the highly acclaimed Less Meat, More Veg (Kyle Books, 2011).
She’s been featured in The Guardian, The Evening Standard, BBC London, BBC Breakfast and more commenting on food issues.
Rachel is currently the Food Editor for the organic box scheme Abel & Cole, where she writes weekly seasonal recipes. She also writes for Jellied Eel magazine.
She lives in South London where she's helped set up various food and growing projects, including an award-winning Edible Garden in her local park, Tipsy Garden in her local pub (where hops, apples and grapes are grown for local brews), and popular 'Jam Sessions' which nurture the art of preserving. She's currently writing her second book (Ebury; due Spring 2015).
Diane was an artistic director before deciding to change her career path to pursue her fervour for food. After a year of hard training in Paris, she graduated with a French CAP cooking degree, and spent a few months at The École Supérieure de Cuisine Française – Ferrandi, one of France’s leading professional training culinary schools.
After her husband was hired by a bank in London, they crossed the Channel, and Diane put her training to the test by working at Pascal Aussignac’s highly respected Club Gascon. She then decided to tantalise Londoners with the treasures of French pastry and began her own business, selling cakes.
Diane soon found herself working as a freelance chef assistant for cookery classes, and in the Divertimenti Café. She also worked at Travers Smith Private Partners ' Kitchen along with Divertimenti chef Sybille Pouzet.
Diane is now a food advisor for an important European food company while still catering and conducting animated international cookery classes in Paris and London.
When she’s not in the kitchen, or providing private catering and tuition courses, she can be found on her weblog, Diane’s Kitchen, sharing recipes and her latest culinary discoveries.
Ben Tish started as Head Chef at Salt Yard restaurant in March 2006. In 2008 he became the executive chef of Salt Yard Group and has overseen the opening of Dehesa in Soho and the Opera Tavern in Covent Garden. Ben is responsible for the food offering at all three restaurants; his cooking being at the forefront of modern Spanish/Italian tapas style cuisine.
Prior to Salt Yard Ben spent much of his career working with Jason Atherton of Maze and Stephen Terry of the Hardwick at various ground breaking London restaurants, learning classical techniques along with inspired cooking formulas. He has also fronted the 3 rosette modern Italian Al Duca where he fell in love with the ingredients led approach of Italian cookery and was Executive chef of the Crinan Hotel in the West Highlands of Scotland. Here Ben was inspired with the beautiful, remote location and the amazing produce this part of the country has to offer. Whilst in charge of the kitchens there, he was awarded best gastro pub in Scotland by the Independent newspaper and best newcomer in the Good Food Guide for its fine dining restaurant.
Ben has appeared on Market Kitchen, Saturday Kitchen, Drop Down Menu, Masterchef, Radio 4 Food Programme and was the face for the British Meat Executives website. He has also been the guest chef in Waitrose Food Illustrated, written for the Guardian Christmas supplement and has demonstrated at many foodie events including Taste of London, Foodies Festival and the Slow Food Show. Ben released Salt Yard cook book in 2012 and has had recipes appear in The Times and other major broadsheets.
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Dave has over 22 years of professional cooking experience. He kicked off his culinary career working in the kitchens of Atlanta before completing his education at the Culinary Institute of America. Upon graduation, he moved to New York City where he worked in several of Manhattan's most influential restaurants, including Aureole and Savoy.
Most recently, before moving to the UK with his family, Dave ran a successful wine bar in Brooklyn, New York that focused on pairing wine with local sustainable dishes. His specialties include pastry, charcuterie, butchery and he is passionate about all things pig.
Sumayya Usmani is a freelance food writer and cookery teacher who specialises in Pakistani cuisine. Growing up in Pakistan to a family of passionate home cooks, Sumayya learnt to cook from a very young age by estimation ‘andaza’, known on the sub-continent as the sixth sense of cooking. She is now on a mission to expose the unique flavours of Pakistan in the UK and distinguish them from others in the South Asia. She wants to share her passion for Pakistan and her heritage cuisine and promote Pakistan in a positive light.
Her recipes have been published in Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Nation cookbook (2012, Ebury Press) and she has also appeared on the Good Food Channel TV show supporting the book. Additionally, Sumayya has contributed articles to many prestigious UK based food magazines and teaches in many cook schools across the country. Sumayya is also currently writing a memoir-style cookbook about growing up in Pakistan and sharing her recipes and food memories. She is also Member of the Guild of Food Writers.
Cook and food writer Lindy Wildsmith specialises in British country and Italian regional food. Fish and game, home cooking and kitchen crafts, such as preserving, curing, smoking and potting are high on her agenda. She is the author of Cured, which was shortlisted for the André Simon award and the Guild of Food Writers best food book in 2011. She is also a travel writer - in love with Italy - where she lived for many years. The ties between people, culture and food fascinates Lindy and she has been a follower of Slow Food almost since its inception.
Lindy runs The Chef’s Room fish and cookery school in Wales where she teaches regularly with Franco Taruschio, founder of the Walnut Tree Inn. She writes a monthly blog http://grown-upfood.blogspot.com/ and you can follow her on Twitter @lindywildsmith
After working with Marcus Wareing for more than eight years, holding the role of head chef at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley for four, London-born Alyn decided to open his own restaurant at the end November 2011.
His eponymous restaurant in the heart of London’s Mayfair showcases his meticulous style of modern French cooking in chic, contemporary, professionally-informal surroundings. Within its first year of opening, it was awarded the Three AA Rosette Award, a Michelin star, and was ranked 15th (third highest new entry) in the National Restaurant Awards, while Alyn himself took the title of National Chef of the Year, rounding up an incredible 12 months of business.
Alyn’s early culinary experience was at a wide variety of establishments, both in the UK (Les Alouettes in Surrey, and Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham) and the USA (in Colorado and California, where he also indulged in his passion for snowboarding). When he returned to London in 1998 he perfected his craft in some of the city’s most renowned kitchens including Teatro, Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s during its opening, the three Michelin starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Soho’s Groucho Club, The Savoy Grill and Pétrus.
Guo Yue was born in the alleys (hutongs) of Beijing, and began cooking and playing the flute at the age of 7, just before the start of the Cultural Revolution. Cooking and music became the passions in his life, at a time when creative freedom and individuality were suppressed by Mao's communism, and he discovered how he could put many layers of meaning and free expression into the folds of a handmade dumpling or the intricate perfume of red-stewed pork. Guo Yue cooks like a musician, with an emphasis on the colours, notes and rhythms that make up his collection of traditional and modern recipes. This is real Chinese cooking at its healthy, creative and entertaining best.
Author of 'Music, Food and Love: A Memoir with Recipes' (Little, Brown), and the award-winning children's book 'Little Leap Forward: A Boy in Beijing' (by Guo Yue and Clare Farrow, Barefoot Books), Guo Yue gives cookery classes and demonstrations all over the world, often combining them with exquisite performances on his bamboo and white jade flutes. His unique approach to Chinese cooking, and his uplifting philosophy that bridges old and new China, have led to appearances on radio and TV, including Midweek and Market Kitchen, and articles in The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and Observer Food Monthly. As Peter Gabriel wrote: 'I guarantee he delivers in a magical way.'