My Secret Life: 'Allegra McEvedy, 41, chef

'I went right off the rails'

My parents were... My dad was a consultant psychiatrist by day and historian by night – he sold close to a million copies of historical atlases in his lifetime. Our mum had a background in advertising but after having us, turned her hand to lots of things, from running a wine bar to writing radio plays.

The household I grew up in... was a very happy, secure one, though life changed rather abruptly as mama got seriously ill and died when I was 17.

When I was a child I wanted to be... I thought I'd be a barrister, but after mama died, which unfortunately coincided with me finding out I was gay, I went right off the rails, got expelled from my very academic school and once the dust had settled it was quite clear that I'd blown anything that required decent A-level results and a university degree.

If I could change one thing about myself... My ebullience for life can sometimes make me a tad bullish. But I think I'm mellowing a bit these days.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at... driving – if I hadn't been a chef I would have been a cabby.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... puddings. When I was starting out, women were silently encouraged to go into the pastry section. I was desperate to stay in the hot kitchen where the action was.

I wish I had never worn... head-to-toe black leather in 1991, with a buzz-cut and 12 ear piercings. Mums used to cross the street when they saw me coming!

What I see when I look in the mirror... Two rather intense eyes and a set of features that puts me firmly in the genetic line between my mum and my daughter. A strong body, which easily supports the results of a lifetime of good noshing.

It's not fashionable but I like... snooker. Love it in fact. Always have.

My house is... my home and my workplace. Busy kitchen with a big table – most of my childhood years were spent around the kitchen table, from making pastry as a kid to getting stoned with my mates once my dad had gone to bed.

A book that changed me... My first cookbook, when I was 30. I'd been doing restaurant cheffing for 10 years and had sort of ceilinged so was really pleased when a new game came along.

Movie heaven... any old Hollywood musicals.

My real-life villains... The people who are in a position to change the way that we buy from developing countries and do nothing about it.

My secret crush... Helen Mirren, any day of the week.

My life in six words... Varied, lucky, creative, stressful, stimulating, fulfilled. E


Allegra McEvedy MBE was born in 1970 and raised in Hammersmith, London. She was expelled from St Paul's Girls' School at 17, but In 1991 completed her chef's training at Cordon Bleu. She worked in kitchens at the Groucho Club, the River Café and The Cow, and in 2003 launched healthy fast-food restaurant group, Leon. She has written five books, including Economy Gastronomy. McEvedy is patron of the Fairtrade Foundation ( She lives in Shepherd's Bush, London, with her daughter Delilah

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed