Nigel Slater (born 9 April 1958) is an English food writer, journalist and broadcaster. He has written a column for The Observer Magazine for over a decade and is the principal writer for the Observer Food Monthly supplement. Prior to this, Slater was food writer for Marie Claire for five years. He also serves as art director for his books.
Food is, for me, for everybody, a very sexual thing and I think I realised that quite early on. I still cannot exaggerate how just putting a meal in front of somebody is really more of a buzz for me than anything. And I mean anything. Maybe that goes back to trying to please my dad, I don't know. It's like parenting in a way I suppose.
Nigel Slater, The Guardian
On 9 April 1958, Nigel Slater was born in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, to factory owner Tony Slater and housewife Kathleen as the third and youngest son. His mother died of asthma in 1965. In 1971, his father remarried, to Dorothy Perrens, until his death three years later.
Slater attended Woodfield Avenue School, Penn, West Midlands. He moved to Worcestershire as a teenager and attended Chantry High School where he enjoyed writing essays and was one of only two boys to take cookery as an O-Level subject.
According to the BBC article Competitive cooking: Why do we bother?, Slater claims in his autobiography Toast that he used food to compete with his stepmother Dorothy for his father's attention. Their biggest battle was over lemon meringue pie – his father's favourite. She refused to divulge her recipe, so Slater resorted to subterfuge to turn out his own version. "I'd count the egg-shells in the bin, to see how many eggs she'd used and write them down. I'd come in at different times, when I knew she was making it. I'd just catch her when she was doing some meringue, building up that recipe slowly over a matter of months, if not years." An alternative account of this episode is given by Ann, his step-sister, who claims that she made the pie, not her mother, and that the recipe was from a cookbook.
He gained an OND in catering at Worcester Technical College in 1976, and proceeded to work in restaurants and hotels across the UK before becoming a food writer for Marie Claire magazine in 1988. He became best known for uncomplicated, comfort food recipes presented in early best-selling books such as The 30-Minute Cook (1994) and Real Cooking, as well as his engaging, memoir-like columns for The Observer which he began in 1993.
Television and radio
In 1998, Slater hosted the Channel 4 series Nigel Slater's Real Food Show. He returned to TV in 2006 to host the chat/food show A Taste of My Life for BBC One and BBC Two. In 2009, he presented the six-part series Simple Suppers on BBC One, and a second series the following year.
He appeared as a guest "castaway" on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in June 2005.
In November 2013 he starred alongside Adam Henson on BBC's 'Nigel and Adam's Farm Kitchen'. Adam Henson (the farmer) and Nigel Slater (the chef) joined forces to sow, grow, rear and cook Britain's favourite foods, from a working farm in the Cotswolds, as they tried to get people back in touch with where our food comes from.
Slater's book, Eating for England: The Delights & Eccentricities of the British at Table (Fourth Estate), is devoted to British food and cookery. It was published in October 2007 and was described in The Sunday Times as "the sort of ragbag of choice culinary morsels that would pass the time nicely on a train journey". His book Tender is the story of his vegetable garden, how it came to be and what grows in it. The book was published in two volumes; the first is on vegetables, which was released late in 2009 and the second is on fruit, which was released in 2010. Tender is described as a memoir, a study of fifty of our favourite vegetables, fruits and nuts and a collection of over five hundred recipes.
I think the really interesting bits of my story was growing up with this terribly dominating dad and a mum who I loved to bits but obviously I lost very early on; and then having to fight with the woman who replaced her.... I kind of think that in a way that that was partly what attracted me to working in the food service industry, was that I finally had a family.
Slater became known to a wider audience with the publication of Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger, a moving and award-winning autobiography focused on his love of food, his childhood, his family relationships (his mother died of asthma when he was nine) and his burgeoning sexuality. Slater has called it "the most intimate memoir that any food person has ever written". Toast was published in Britain in October 2004 and became a best-seller after it was featured on the Richard & Judy Book Club.
As he told The Observer, "The last bit of the book is very foody. But that is how it was. Towards the end I finally get rid of these two people in my life I did not like [his father and stepmother, who had been the family's cleaning lady]—and to be honest I was really very jubilant—and thereafter all I wanted to do was cook." A film based on the book also called Toast, starring Freddie Highmore as the 15-year-old Slater and Helena Bonham Carter as his stepmother, has been broadcast on BBC One. Slater's negative portrayal of his stepmother is challenged, however, by his stepsisters.
Slater has two older brothers, Adrian and John. Slater's parents adopted John, a neighbour's child, before Slater was born. He also has two stepsisters, from whom he is estranged.
Slater lives in the Highbury area of north London, where he maintains a kitchen garden which is often featured in his column.
Publications and broadcasting
- The Marie Claire Cookbook, Hamlyn, (ISBN 0-7064-2573-1, 1992)
- Real Fast Food, Michael Joseph Ltd, (ISBN 0-7181-3577-6, 1992) or Penguin Books Ltd, (ISBN 0-14-046949-4, 1993)
- Real Fast Puddings, Michael Joseph Ltd, (ISBN 0-7181-3577-6, 1992) or Penguin Books Ltd, (ISBN 0-14-023283-4, 1994)
- The 30-Minute Cook, Michael Joseph Ltd (ISBN 0-7181-3752-3, 1994)
- Real Good Food, Fourth Estate Ltd (ISBN, 1995)
- Real Cooking, Michael Joseph Ltd, (ISBN 0-7181-4090-7, 1997) or Penguin Books Ltd (ISBN 0-14-025277-0, 1999)
- Real Food, Fourth Estate Ltd, (ISBN 1-85702-971-2, 1998) or (ISBN 1-84115-144-0, 2000)
- Appetite, Random House of Canada Ltd, (ISBN 0-679-31212-9, 2000) or Fourth Estate Ltd (ISBN 1-84115-470-9, 2000)
- Thirst, Fourth Estate Ltd, (ISBN 1-84115-768-6, 2002)
- The Kitchen Diaries, Fourth Estate Ltd, (ISBN 0-00-719948-1, 2005) or Gotham Books, published by Penguin (USA) Inc., (ISBN 1-592-40234-8), October 2006
- Tender, Volume One, Fourth Estate Ltd, Harper Collins (ISBN 978-0-00-724849-0) (2009)
- Tender, Volume Two, Fourth Estate Ltd, Harper Collins (2010)
- The Kitchen Diaries II, Fourth Estate Ltd (2012)
- eat: The Little Book of Fast Food, Fourth Estate Ltd (2013)
- A Year of Good Eating: The Kitchen Diaries III, Fourth Estate Ltd (ISBN 978-0-00-753680-1) (2015)
- The Christmas Chronicles, Fourth Estate Ltd (2017)
- Nigel Slater's Middle East (2018, 3 episodes) - writer and presenter
- Nigel Slater: Eating Together (2015, 4 episodes) – writer and presenter
- Nigel and Adam’s Farm Kitchen (2013) – co-presenter
- Nigel Slater’s Great British Biscuit (2013, one-off documentary) – writer and presenter
- Nigel Slater’s Dish of the Day (2012) – writer and presenter
- Nigel Slater: Life is Sweets (2012, one-off documentary) – writer and presenter
- Nigel Slater’s Simple Cooking (2011, 8 episodes) – writer and presenter
- Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers (2009) – writer and presenter
- A Taste of My Life (2006-2008, 31 episodes) – host and presenter
- Nigel Slater’s Real Food Show (1998) – host and presenter
- 1995 Glenfiddich Cookery Writer of the Year Award
- 1995 Glenfiddich Trophy
- 1995 Glendfiddich Award for Best Visual Work for The Observer
- 1996 Media Personality of the Year Award (Good Food Awards)
- 1999 Glenfiddich Award for Best Visual Work for Real Food
- 1999 Best Newspaper Cookery Journalist Award
- 2000 André Simon Award for Cookbook of the Year for Appetite
- 2004 André Simon Award for Toast
- 2004 Glenfiddich Food Book of the Year forToast
- 2004 British Biography of the Year Award for Toast
- 2004 Observer Food Monthly Book of the Year Award for Toast
- 2004 WH Smith People's Choice Award for "Toast"
- 2006 British Book Award for The Kitchen Diaries
- 2007 Specialist Writer of the Year, PPA Awards
- 2009 Honorary DLitt from the University of Wolverhampton
- 2009 BBC Food Personality of the Year
- ^ "Nigel Slater". Waterstones.com. Retrieved 14 October 2007.
- ^ Slice of nostalgia: the making of Toast The Telegraph, 20 December 2010
- ^ a b Adams, Tim (14 September 2003). "While other boys in his class were reading Shoot! Nigel subscribed to Cordon Bleu magazine". The Observer. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- ^ a b c d "Nigel Slater's cooked up a load of cruel lies about our mother, say the food writer's stepsisters after watching BBC dramatisation of his childhood". Mail Online. Associated Newspapers. 9 January 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
- ^ Nigel Slater Archived 4 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine. University of Wolverhampton, 2011; Retrieved 6 March 2011
- ^ a b I was one of two boys who took cookery O-level at my secondary school Times Educational Supplement, 10 October 2003; Retrieved 6 March 2011
- ^ a b Competitive cooking: Why do we bother? BBC News, 22 December 2010
- ^ A Taste of My Life BBC Programmes
- ^ Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers recipes BBC – Food
- ^ Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers: Series 2 BBC One
- ^ Nigel Slater Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4, 5 June 2005
- ^ Nigel and Adam's Farm Kitchen
- ^ a b Wilson, Bee (7 October 2007). "Dipping into our culinary history". Times Online. Archived from the original on 10 October 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- ^ Interview with Nigel Slater AfterElton.com, 10 January 2005
- ^ Interview with Nigel Slater (page 2) AfterElton.com, 10 January 2005
- ^ a b Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger by Nigel Slater Barnes & Noble
- ^ Richard & Judy Channel 4 Archived 12 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
- ^ New BBC One drama, Helena Bonham Carter and Freddie Highmore star in Toast BBC Press Office, 21 May 2010
- ^ "Katherine Butler: Don't spoil a good story with the truth" 11 January 2011 Independent
- ^ "Nigel Slater's cooked up a load of cruel lies about our mother, say the food writer's stepsisters after watching BBC dramatisation of his childhood" Daily Mail
- ^ The Kitchen Diaries Harper Collins
- ^ William Leith Not roquette science – Review: The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater The Guardian, 29 October 2005
- ^ Lynne Truss Toast by Nigel Slater and My Autobiography by Antony Worrall Thompson Times Online, 5 October 2003 (subscription required)
- ^ Matthew Fort Slater's raw honesty has a delicious flavour – Review: Toast by Nigel Slater The Observer, 19 October 2003
- ^ University of Wolverhampton: Honorary Graduates: Previous Years
- ^ Food & Farming Awards – Winners & Finalists BBC Radio 4, 2009