Ainsley Harriott Biography

(English Chef and Television Presenter)

Birthday: February 28, 1957 (Pisces)

Born In: Paddington, London, England

Ainsley Harriott is a well renowned British chef, entertainer and television host who is most known for his BBC cooking shows Can't Cook, Won't Cook and Ready Steady Cook. The quick-witted and charismatic celebrity chef, who is loved by home cooks for his simple fun filled approach, began his career as a chef and worked in various restaurants before embarking on his television career with Good Morning With Anne And Nick. In his three decades of career, he has presented numerous cooking shows including Ainsley Harriott's Street Food, Ainsley’s Mediterranean Cookbook and Ainsley's Food We Love. Besides UK, he has presented Ready, Set, Cook for the US television, Off The Menu for South Africa television and Ainsley’s Market Menu for SBS Australia. Apart from cookery shows, he has also participated in the genealogy documentary series Who Do You Think You Are?, and a dance reality show, Strictly Come Dancing, and acted in few television series. Furthermore, he is a bestselling author with numerous cookbooks under his belt and sells his own range of food products too.

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In February

Also Known As: Ainsley Denzil Dubriel Harriott

Age: 66 Years, 66 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Clare Fellows​ (m. 1989 - sep. 2012)

father: Chester Harriott

mother: Peppy Strudwick

Born Country: England

Chefs TV Presenters

Height: 6'3" (190 cm), 6'3" Males

City: London, England


At the age of 16, Ainsley Harriott joined a posh restaurant called Verrey’s in the West End London as a commis chef. He later worked at Strand Palace Hotel, The Dorchester and Browns, and ran a catering company too before giving it all up for some time to form The Calypso Twins with school friend Paul Boross. The duo, together, performed frequently at comedy clubs like Comedy Store and Jongleurs as well as American TV and radio shows. In the early 1990s, the friends also released a hit record World Party.

In the early 1990s itself, while he was working as the head chef of the Long Room at Lord's Cricket Ground, he was first invited to present More Nosh, Less Dosh on BBC Radio 5 Live and later to become resident chef on BBC TV’s Good Morning With Anne And Nick.

Still later, he became the main presenter of cookery game shows Can't Cook, Won't Cook (1995-96) and Ready Steady Cook (2000–2010). The two shows made him a household name. For the 10th anniversary of the former show, he hosted a special edition comedy gameshow Can't Smeg, Won't Smeg. For the latter show, he has presented few episodes of celebrity editions, special edition (Birthday, Christmas and sports relief) and Daytime Celebrity Christmas specials.

The year 2000 also saw him making his US television debut in the series, The Ainsley Harriott Show. This was followed by the American version of the Ready Steady Cook Ready... Set... Cook! (2000-2001) – which he hosted for the Food Network.

During this period, he also hosted his own cooking instruction programmes – Ainsley's Barbecue Bible (1997), Ainsley's Meals in Minutes (1998), Ainsley's Big Cook Out (1999) and Ainsley's Gourmet Express (2000–2001). Between 2002 and 2007, he appeared in the advertisements of Fairy Liquid, the British brand of advertising liquid owned by Procter and Gamble.

Meanwhile he also began securing small roles in television series like Hale and Pace (as an extra - 1988), Davro (1990-1991) and Red Dwarf (as Gelf Chief - 1993). He later acted in the television series The Mark Steel Lectures (Robert Boyle, 2003) and also appeared as himself in Cory in the House (2008), My Family (2010), Mongrels (2011) and Ready Steady Bhaag (2015).

Ainsley Harriott continued presenting more cookery shows like Ainsley Harriott's Street Food, Len and Ainsley's Big Food Adventure (both 2015), Ainsley's Caribbean Kitchen, Ainsley's Market Menu (both 2019), Ainsley’s Mediterranean Cookbook, Ainsley's Food We Love and Ainsley's Festive Food We Love (all 2020). He also narrated The Best Dishes Ever (2016) and My World Kitchen (2018-2019).

Apart from cookery shows, Harriott participated in the genealogy documentary series Who Do You Think You Are? (2008) and the celebrity dance reality show Strictly Come Dancing (2015) where he was paired with Australian dancer Natalie Lowe. The two finished 12th in the competition.

Ainsley Harriott has authored several books and with over two million books sold around the world (including foreign-language translations), he is clearly one of the bestselling authors. Some of his most loved books include Ainsley’s Barbecue Bible, the Meals in Minutes franchise, Friends and Family, Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen and his latest Ainsley’s Mediterranean Cookbook.

He has also used his skills with food and experience travelling around the world to launch his own range of food products – couscous, risotto, soups and cereal bars – which are now widely available in the UK and Australian supermarket.

The year 2020 saw him receiving his MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) – for his services to broadcasting and to the culinary arts – from Prince Charles at the Buckingham Palace.

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Family & Personal Life

Ainsley Harriott was born on 28th February, 1957 in Paddington, London, to parents of Jamaican heritage (who came to London in the 1950s). His father, Chester Leroy Harriott, was a pianist while his mother, Peppy Strudwick, was a nurse. Ainsley, together with his elder brother and sister, was raised in Balham, South London.

For his education, he went to Wandsworth Comprehensive School and later joined Westminster Kingsway College where he trained in cooking. He initially learnt cooking from his mother.

In 1989, he wedded former costume designer Clare Fellows. They have two children: daughter Maddie and son Jimmy. They divorced in 2012.

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