Life and Times
Nigel Slater (1958 – ) is a food commentator. He lives in Highbury, near Islington in London, England.
He has written for various magazines, hosted TV series on foods, and written many books about food.
A very chatty writer, he encourages his readers to improvise in their cooking.
Nigel was born in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire on 9 April 1958. His father was an engineer by profession, who owned a factory. His family was relatively well off, and had help that included a gardener. His mother died when Nigel was nine years old, of asthma. Upon her death, his father engaged a housekeeper, Joan Potter, whom he eventually married. Nigel has two brothers, Adrian, 15 years older, and John. For elementary school, he went to Woodfield Avenue School, Penn, West Midlands, and then later Chantry High School in Worchestershire where he was only one of two boys there to opt to include cooking in their studies. Nigel had been interested in cooking since he was a very young boy.
His father died in 1974.
After Nigel graduated in 1976 from catering studies at Worcester Tech, he got his first job at Thornbury Castle, which paid him £8 a week plus accommodation. A year later, he got a job at The Box Tree in Ilkley, but hated the environment of the abusive kitchen there, and left to help his sister-in-law with her bread and breakfast operation in St Ives for a summer.
He then went to work at The Miller Howe under John Tovey, and then moved to London, worked for a while as a waiter at the Savoy, and then at Justin de Blank café on Duke Street opposite Selfridges, just off Grosvenor Square. Around this time, he decided he didn’t want to be a chef, and was more interested in home cooking than “haute cuisine,”, at which point he started to get into writing.
The editor, Jenny Greene, of “A la Carte” magazine was a regular customer at Justin de Blank. He volunteered to test some recipes for her in the café. One time, when the recipes didn’t turn out, Jenny asked him to submit a recipe and he submitted his now-famous recipe for “apple and stilton strudel.” He then got other jobs cooking food for food photographers.
In 1988, he became food writer for “Marie Claire” magazine, doing captions and recipes. In the same year, he did a series for Channel 4 in England called “Nigel Slater’s Real Food Show.” Five years later in 1993, he started working for The Observer newspaper out of Manchester. For them, he wrote his own food column and became the food editor of their “Life” magazine. The “Marie Claire” magazine didn’t like him working for The Observer as well, so he had to quit “Marie Claire.”
In 2003, he published the biographical book, “Toast”, based on a column he wrote titled “My Life on a Plate.” “Toast” covers the story of his life from the age of 8 to 18. To date, he has declined offers to write the followup, because many of the people that would be involved were still alive, but he has not ruled it out entirely.
In 2006, he hosted the BBC1 television series, “A Taste of My Life.”
In 2009, he was proclaimed Food Personality of the Year at the BBC Food and Farming Awards.
In 2009, and 2010, he was the presenter of the programme “Simple Suppers” on BBC1.
Much of the photography accompanying his columns in the Observer, and in his books, has been done over the years by Jonathan Lovekin. The two met when Nigel was at “Marie Claire” magazine; the two have collaborated since then on the food photography (and together eat most of the things they photograph.)
 Though openly gay, Slater is single ; he prefers to live on his own with the company of his cats.
Books by Nigel Slater
- 1992. Marie Claire’s Creative Cuisine. London: Hamlyn (September 1992)
- 1992. Real Fast Food: 350 Recipes Ready-to-Eat in 30 Minutes. London: Michael Joseph Ltd
- 1992. Judith and Martin Miller’s Traditional Christmas (provided recipes for.) London: Mitchell Beazley.
- 1994. Real Fast Puddings: Over 200 Desserts, Savouries and Sweet Snacks in Under 30 Minutes. London: Michael Joseph Ltd
- 1994. The 30-Minute Cook: The Best of the World’s Quick Cooking. London: Michael Joseph Ltd
- 1995. Real Good Food: The Essential Nigel Slater. London: Fourth Estate Ltd
- 1996. 30 minute Suppers. Penguin.
- 1997. Real Cooking. London: Michael Joseph Ltd
- 1998. Nigel Slater’s Real Food. London: Fourth Estate Ltd
- 2000. Appetite: So What Do You Want to Eat Today? London: Fourth Estate Ltd
- 2002. Thirst. London: Fourth Estate Ltd
- 2003. Toast: The Story of a Boy’s Hunger. London: Fourth Estate Ltd
- 2005. The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen. London: Fourth Estate Ltd
- 2007. Eating For England. London: Fourth Estate Ltd
- 2009. Tender, Vol I: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch
- 2010. Tender, Vol II: A Cook’s Guide to the Fruit Garden
- 2013. Eat.
- 1998 “Nigel Slater’s Real Food Show.” Channel 4.
- 2006 “A Taste of My Life”. BBC1
- 2007 “A Taste of My Life”. BBC1
- 2008 “A Taste of My Life”. BBC1
- 2009 “Simple suppers”. BBC1
- 2010 “Simple suppers”. BBC1
- 2011 “Simple cooking”. BBC1
- 2012 “Simple cooking”. BBC1
- 2012 “Dish of the day”. BBC 1
- 2012 “Twelve tastes of Christmas.” BBC1
- 2012 “Life is sweets”. BBC4
Literature & Lore
“Well let’s face it, who on earth besides antique dealers and gay couples actually still give dinner parties?” — Nigel Slater. “In this month’s Observer Food Monthly”. Manchester: The Observer. Sunday, 13 November 2005.
 “Experiments are usually consumed by him and his photographer Jonathan Lovekin.” — Devine, Cate. Nigel Slater: suburban guerilla. Edinburgh, Scotland: The Herald. 28 September 2009.
 “It’s a serene and peaceful space, and Slater, who is single, readily agrees that it suits his solitary lifestyle.” — [Ibid.]
Adams, Tim. While other boys in his class were reading Shoot! Nigel subscribed to Cordon Bleu magazine. Interview with Nigel Slater. Manchester: Observer Food Monthly. Sunday, 14 September 2003.
BBC Radio 4. Nigel Slater. Woman’s Hour, Wednesday 26 October 2005, 10:00 am to 11:00 am.
Betts, Kate. Stars & Stripes (Nigel Slater). In Food & Wine Magazine. American Express Publishing. September 2002.
Moir, Jan. Crumbs of Comfort. London: The Telegraph. 20 September 2003.
Wroe, Nicholas. Life’s too short to stuff a mushroom (Nigel Slater). London: The Guardian. 6 May 2000.