4 reasons why we’re all a little bit in love with Nigel Slater



Nigel Slater has been named the UK´s favourite chef - here are 4 reasons why we love him...

Nigel Slater is easy like Sunday morning. His relaxed style, pottering around the kitchen, cooking by feeling and his championing of locally sourced grub, has really struck a chord with the nation.

So much so we have voted him the UK's favourite celebrity chef.

Nigel Slater

A fifth of people named Nigel their favourite celeb chef, with him coming in ahead of The Hairy Bikers (17%), Michel Roux Jr (14%) and Jamie Oliver (11%) in the Olive food magazine poll.

Here are four reasons why we love him…

1) His home cooked grub is not at all 'cheffy'

Nigel Slater appeals to home cooks with his relaxed, non-cheffy style. His recipes aren't set in stone, nor timed to the precise second - it's natural, intuitive, feel-your-way-along cooking. As it says on his site, Nigel is not a chef and has no restaurant connections.

Instead of "fussy food" he prefers "simple suppers made with care and thought". His cooking his hearty, rustic; it's understated and easily accomplished. It's the cooking of the home rather than the restaurant; it has you instinctively reaching for your KitchenAid mixer to bake a cake, or reaching for your food processor to make a curry paste. As he says himself, he cooks without the merest smidgen of what he calls 'celebrity cheffery'.

2) His food writing is so good you can almost taste it

Sizzling Steak

Nigel describes himself as a cook who writes. It sounds a bit flowery and wet, but in his books you can almost smell the roasting meat, hear the sizzling frying pan, taste the juicy steak.

Take The Kitchen Diaries, in which he keeps a diary of what he ate, shopped for and cooked over a whole year. Great for curling up on the sofa on a rainy Sunday or learning how to cook in tune with the seasons, his near-poetic prose about pork, pastry and pears will have your belly rumbling.  

He talks about 'scraped-up pan-stickings', 'Marmite-like goo that adheres to the skin of anything roasted' and the 'deep, salty stickiness of food'. In his hands, food becomes more than just food, it becomes something else.

But what makes his writing really special is the fact it's about more than merely food - it's about people, places, the seasons; it's about life.  As one reviewer in the Guardian put it: "Slater's food writing is … not just about food, but about how food connects you to people."

3) As we become a nation of foodies he teaches us how to cook  

Preparing Food

We're fast becoming a nation of foodies and Nigel's simple cooking is helping us develop our skills as home cooks. The Olive poll found the number of us cooking from scratch with raw ingredients has risen 55% in the past 10 years. Meanwhile, our tastes are becoming more exotic, with 40% saying chorizo is something they could not live without.

Thank God Nigel is here to hold our hands as we stumble around the kitchen with good intentions but questionable skills. His cookbooks are all about helping us to become a better cook. Appetite, for instance, is packed full of hints and tips as well as an array of amazing recipes. He tells us why he cooks, helps us plan meals, provides a list of the kitchen gadgets we need and the store-cupboard ingredients we should all have.

Meanwhile, TV shows such as Simple Suppers walk us through uncomplicated and easy-to-remember meals. Food we can cook after a hard day at work as well as on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

4) He loves farmers' markets and locally-sourced grub

Farmers Market 2

In The Kitchen Diaries, Nigel writes that he's "never stepped foot inside a branch of Tesco". Here is a man who favours the farmers' market over the supermarket, the soily spud over the scrubbed one, the misshapen, organically grown carrot over its newer perfectly formed cousin. He loves a bit of veg, dedicating a whole book solely to it (Tender, Volume One).

And don't we just love him for it? He has championed farmers' markets and seasonal, locally sourced ingredients for years, and now we've caught up with him as a nation, with the Olive magazine survey finding both are growing in popularity as we become more conscious about what we eat.

Olive editor Christine Hayes said: "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."

Nigel Slater published his latest book Eat - the Little Book of Fast Food, in September. Tell us what you like about his cooking style in the comments below…