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Prosecco, chorizo and Nigel Slater – what’s on Britain’s menu

The nation has a new favourite celebrity chef and more of us are cooking from scratch

His cookery books, with their straightforward, earthy recipes, have sold millions worldwide and his award-winning memoir about his unhappy childhood was made into a hit BBC drama. Now Nigel Slater has been voted Britain’s favourite celebrity chef, beating off competition from Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver, according to a new poll to mark the 10th anniversary of food magazine Olive.

Slater, 55,  scooped 20 per cent of the vote for the nation’s best chef, while 17 per cent of respondents chose the Hairy Bikers and 14 per cent picked Michel Roux Jr, the owner of Le Gavroche restaurant in London,

Jamie Oliver won 11 per cent of the vote and Delia Smith – the previous winner in a similar poll 10 years ago – managed only 9 per cent, down from 37 per cent in 2003. The survey, conducted by Immediate Media, polled 1,379 people this summer. 

Slater being named as the UK’s best-loved chef comes as Britain is becoming a nation of foodies, the magazine poll found. About 55 per cent more people than a decade ago are cooking from scratch with raw ingredients, while the country’s taste buds are becoming more exotic, with more than 40 per cent of those polled saying the spicy Spanish sausage chorizo would be something they could not live without.

Olive editor Christine Hayes said: “In the past decade, we have witnessed a period of profound change in the UK food scene. We are far more diverse in our tastes and seek out great value,  whether cooking at home or eating out at home and abroad.

“Nigel Slater’s relaxed cooking style and the seasonal, often home-grown, ingredients he uses chimes with the increased trend of using ingredients when they are at their best.”

Farmers’ markets and the use of locally sourced seasonal food, something championed by Slater over the years, are experiencing a surge in popularity, according to the survey. 

Just over a third of people are eating out more than they were 10 years ago. Other indispensable food and drink items that people hadn’t heard of a decade ago and that they must now have in their house were sweet chilli sauce and prosecco. By contrast, chain restaurants, bad service and the high cost of eating out were voted the worst aspects of today’s food scene.

Slater’s 2004 memoir, Toast: The Story of a Boy’s Hunger, won numerous awards and tells the story of the Wolverhampton-born chef’s complicated childhood. 

More please: Britain’s favourites cooks

Nigel Slater

Was a food writer for Marie Claire before moving to The Observer, and has presented food-based TV shows.

Hairy Bikers

Neither Si King and Dave Myers are trained chefs, but have written nine cookbooks.

Delia Smith

Has sold more than 20 million books and has been appearing on TV cookery shows since the 1970s.

Jamie Oliver

As well as his TV work, known for his restaurant chain and his food campaigns.

Michael Roux Jr

Known for judging Masterchef: The Professionals, the French chef has two Michelin stars for his Le Gavroche restaurant.

Nigella Lawson

Published her first cookery book in 1998 and has become known for her intimate presenting style.