Boy from nowhere helps himself to a knighthood

In the year that French President Jacques Chirac famously dismissed British cooking as second only to Finland as being the worst in the world, both chefs have been appointed OBE.

Mr Blumenthal, whose Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire has three Michelin stars, and is renowned for dishes such as snail porridge, said that he was "just praying they wouldn't change their minds." He added: "All that nonsense from Jacques Chirac about British food being some of the worst in the world did us a favour because we got a lot of attention in France and abroad. We are now hopefully showing that British food is on the up and is something to be really proud of." Mr Ramsay, who hosts the culinary show, The F Word, and is known for his colourful explosions in the kitchen, said he was surprised by the OBE. He said: "I'm humbled and delighted to accept this honour, which is the most wonderful way to round off an extraordinary year." A host of artists and writers were recognised on the New Year Honours List. The firebrand fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood, the woman credited with creating modern punk became a Dame and Jeanette Winterson, writer of acclaimed novels such as Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, is created OBE. Sanjeev Bhaskar, comedian and host of The Kumars at Number 42, and Robbie Coltrane, who features in the Harry Potter and James Bond movies, are both appointed OBEs.

Tom Jones, the Welsh singer, received a knighthood, while the DJ Johnnie Walker, who was appointed MBE for his services to BBC Radio 2, said that he was "most grateful". The television entertainer, Bruce Forsyth, most recently the co-host of Strictly Come Dancing, is created CBE. Rachel Whiteread, the sculptor whose work includes a reproduction of the interior of a library commissioned as a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, was also appointed CBE. The actress Imelda Staunton, who was nominated for an Oscar this year for her performance in Vera Drake, is created OBE.

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