About Delia Smith, C.B.E.
Delia Smith CBE
(born 18 June 1941) is an English cook and television presenter, known for teaching basic cookery skills. She is the UK's best-selling cookery author, with more than 21 million copies sold.
Smith is also famous for her role as joint majority shareholder at Norwich City F.C. Her partner in the shareholding is her partner, Michael Wynn-Jones. Her role at the club has attracted varying media attention, from positive when she "saved" the club from bankruptcy, to negative, when making a controversial on-pitch announcement in 2005.
Already an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Smith was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours, "in recognition of ... [her] contribution to television cookery and recipe writing".
Chef, author and TV personality
Born to a Welsh mother in Woking, Surrey, Smith attended Bexleyheath School, leaving at the age of 16 without a single O-level. Her first job was as a hairdresser, and she also worked as a shop assistant and in a travel agency before starting her career in cookery. When Delia was 16, her boyfriend often complimented her, saying how good her food was. This was the nudge forward that made Delia take that step into cookery. At 21, she started work in a tiny restaurant in Paddington called The Singing Chef. She started as a washer-upper, then moved on to waitressing, and then was allowed to help with the cooking. She started reading English cookery books in the Reading Room at the British Museum, trying out the recipes on a Harley Street family with whom she was living at the time.
In 1969 Smith was taken on as the cookery writer for the Daily Mirror's new magazine. Their Deputy Editor was Michael Wynn-Jones, whom she later married. Her first piece featured kipper pâté, beef in beer, and cheesecake. In 1972 she started a column in the Evening Standard which she was to write for 12 years. Later she wrote a column for the Radio Times until 1986.
Smith became famous by hosting a cookery television show Family Fare which ran between 1973-1975. Her first television appearances came in the early 1970s, as resident cook on BBC East's regional magazine programme Look East, shown on BBC One across East Anglia.
Smith approached BBC Further Education with an idea for their first televised cookery course. Her aim was to teach people how to cook: to take them back to basics and cover all the classic techniques. Accompanying books were needed to explain not only how, but why, things happen. This led to her three Cookery Course books.
Smith became a recognisable figure amongst young people in the 1970s and early 1980s when she was an occasional guest on the BBC Saturday morning children's programme Multicoloured Swap Shop and did basic cooking demonstrations; she and host Noel Edmonds had a flirtatious way of interacting with each other back then. She purportedly phoned in during the reunion programme It Started with Swap Shop, though that particular "appearance" is debatable.
Her television series, Delia's How to Cook (1998), reportedly led to a 10% rise in egg sales in Britain, and her use of ingredients (such as frozen mash, tinned minced beef and onions as used in her 2008 TV series), or utensils (such as an omelette pan), could cause sell-outs overnight. This phenomenon – the "Delia Effect" – was most recently seen in 2008 after her new book How to Cheat at Cooking was published. Her fame has meant that her first name has become sufficient to identify her to the public, and the "Delia Effect" has become a commonly used phrase to describe a run on a previously poor-selling product as a result of a high-profile recommendation.
She created a stir in 1998 when she taught viewers how to boil an egg.
In 2003 Smith announced her retirement from television. However, she returned for an eponymously-titled six-part series airing on the BBC in Spring 2008. The accompanying book, an update of her original best-selling 1971 book How to Cheat at Cooking, was published by Ebury Press in February 2008, immediately becoming a number one best-seller. Items to have benefitted from the "Delia Effect" include the Kenwood mini-chopper, Martelli pasta and Aunt Bessie's mashed potato.
In 2005, Smith announced that she was supporting the Labour Party in the forthcoming election.
In 2009, Smith announced that in order to help Norwich City's finances, she has "been working extremely hard on another book and TV series." It is to be a retrospective of her 40 year career, "looking at how things have changed".
In 2010, Delia's latest television series, Delia through the Decades, was first broadcast on 11 January on BBC2 at 8.30pm. The show lasts for five weeks, with each episode exploring a new decade of her cooking. Her biggest selling book Delia Smith's The Winter Collection (1995) sold 2 million copies in hardback.
In March 2010, Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal were signed up to appear in a series of 40 commercials on British television for the supermarket chain Waitrose.
Smith is also known for her spiritual books. She has had a varied church background. Having been baptised in the Church of England, she attended a Methodist Sunday School, a Congregationalist Brownie group and later a Church of England youth group. At the age of 22 she converted to the Roman Catholic Church. Her first two short religious books, A Feast for Lent (1983) and A Feast for Advent (1983), are readings and reflections for these seasons. In 1988 Delia took on the much larger challenge of writing a full-length book on prayer - A Journey into God.
Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones at the 25th anniversary of the Capital Canaries, 2000Smith has developed other business interests outside of her culinary ventures, notably a majority shareholding in the recently promoted Barclays Premier League team Norwich City Football Club, with her Welsh-born husband, Michael Wynn-Jones with whom she lives near Stowmarket in Suffolk. Both Smith and Wynn-Jones were season ticket holders at Norwich and were invited to invest in the club, which had fallen on hard times.
On 28 February 2005, Smith attracted attention during the half-time break of a home match against Manchester City. At the time Norwich were fighting an ultimately unsuccessful battle against relegation from the Premier League, and in order to rally the crowd, Smith grabbed the microphone from the club announcer on the pitch and said: "A message for the best football supporters in the world: we need a 12th man here. Where are you? Where are you? Let's be 'avin' you! Come on!" Norwich lost the match 3–2. Smith denied suggestions in the media that she had been drunk while delivering the speech.
In 2008, Smith was reported to have rejected an offer from Norfolk-born billionaire Peter Cullum, who wished to invest £20 million in the club, but wished Smith and the other shareholders to relinquish their holdings. At a Norwich City AGM in November of that year, however, Smith said that:
she and her husband Michael Wynn Jones would 'be very happy to stand aside' as majority shareholders if someone came along with an offer to buy them out. Delia also stated that she was never made an offer for her majority shareholding by Peter Cullum.
Cullum confirmed Smith's version of events: "Peter Cullum subsequently confirmed that he did not offer to buy the shares of the majority shareholders. He explained the £20m he offered would have been in return for new shares and that money would have been used to buy players, but he had never offered to buy out the majority shareholders."
In August 2011, Smith announced that, anticipating her 70th birthday, she was stepping down from her catering role at Carrow Road: "It is now time for a fresh approach and a younger team who, I am confident, will take the business even further."
From 1993 to 1998 Smith worked as a behind-the-scenes consultant for Sainsbury's. In May 1993 she and her husband launched New Crane Publishing, which produces the Sainsbury's Magazine and produced Smith's most recent books for BBC Worldwide. Smith was Consultant Director and contributed her own recipes. Although Delia and Michael sold New Crane Publishing in 2005, Smith continues to be a Consultant for Seven Publishing who now publish the magazine.
In March 2001 Smith launched her website, Delia Online. She uses the site to communicate directly with her fans, and offers a growing archive of her recipes. There is also a forum where contributors share recipes, offer advice about cookery skills and where to buy products. The website also contains information about Smith's latest ventures.
 AwardsIn the 2009 Birthday Honours, she was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), "in recognition of ... [her] contribution to television cookery and recipe writing".
In 1996, Smith was awarded an honorary degree by Nottingham University, a Fellowship from St Mary’s University College (a college of the University of Surrey) and a Fellowship from the Royal Television Society. In 1999 she received an Honorary degree from the University of East Anglia and in 2000, a Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.
How to Cheat at Cooking (1971) Recipes from Country Inns and Restaurants (1973) The Evening Standard Cookbook (1974) Country Recipes from Look East (1975) More Country Recipes: A Second Collection from Look East (1976) Frugal Food (1976) (Re-issued in October 2008) Cakes, Bakes & Steaks (1977) Delia Smith's Book of Cakes (1977) Delia Smith's Cookery Course (3 volumes: 1978, 1979 & 1980) One is Fun (1986) Complete Illustrated Cookery Course (1989) (ISBN 0-563-21454-6) Delia Smith's Christmas (1990) Delia Smith's Summer Collection (1993) Delia Smith's Winter Collection (1995) (winner of the 1996 British Book of the Year award). Delia's How to Cook—Book 1 (1998) (based on the television series) Delia's How to Cook—Book 2 (1999) Delia's How to Cook—Book 3 (2001) The Delia Collection (2003) (several themed volumes) Delia's Kitchen Garden: A Beginners' Guide to Growing and Cooking Fruit and Vegetables (2004) The Delia Collection - Puddings (2006) Delia's Kitchen Garden (February 2007) (BBC Books - ISBN 9780563493730) How to Cheat at Cooking (February 2008) (Ebury Press - ISBN 9780091922290) Delia's Happy Christmas (October 2009)  Religious worksA Feast for Advent (1983) A Feast for Lent (1983) A Journey into Prayer (1986) A Journey into God (1988)
'''Television series guide'''
Family Fare Series 1: 8 editions from 12 September 1973 - 7 November 1973 Series 2: 12 editions from 11 July 1974 - 2 October 1974 Series 3: 13editions from 18 April 1975 - 11 July 1975 Delia Smith's Cookery Course 1: 10 editions from 3 November 1978 - 26 January 1979 Delia Smith's Cookery Course 2: 10 editions from 11 January 1980 - 14 March 1980 Delia Smith's Cookery Course 3: 10 editions from 6 April 1981 - 18 June 1981 Delia Smith's One is Fun: 6 editions from 28 June 1985 - 9 August 1985 Delia Smith's Christmas: 6 editions from 15 November 1990 - 20 December 1990 Delia Smith's Summer Collection: 10 editions from 4 May 1993 - 6 July 1993 Delia Smith's Winter Collection: 12 editions from 11 October 1995 - 7 February 1996 Delia's Red Nose Collection: 5 editions from 9 February 1997 - 9 March 1997 Delia's How to Cook 1: 10 editions from 13 October 1998 - 15 December 1998 Delia's How to Cook 2: 10 editions from 10 January 2000 - 13 March 2000 Delia's How to Cook 3: 8 editions from 8 January 2002 - 26 February 2002 Delia's Chocolate C'Hunks: 5 editions from 9 February 2001 - 9 March 2001 Delia: 6 editions from 10 March 2008 - 14 April 2008 Delia through the Decades: 5 editions from 11 January 2010 - 8 February 2010
1.^ "Delia's flour power". BBC News. 25 November 1998. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/221711.stm. 2.^ "The rise of lazy foods". BBC News. 17 March 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8572009.stm. 3.^ "Who's backing whom at the election?". BBC News. 21 April 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/vote_2005/frontpage/4464557.stm. 4.^ http://www.canaries.co.uk/page/NewsDetails/0,,10355~1691374,00.html 5.^ a b http://www.canaries.co.uk/page/NewsDetails/0,,10355~1691388,00.html 6.^ a b "Delia cooking through the decades". BBC News. 10 February 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/norfolk/hi/people_and_places/arts_and_culture/newsid_8457000/8457064.stm. 7.^ "Cookson first - but who's that at No 2?". Guardian. 4 February 1999. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/1999/feb/04/2?INTCMP=SRCH. 8.^ "Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal to star in Waitrose ads". Daily Telegraph. 3 March 2010. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/celebritynews/7360090/Delia-Smith-and-Heston-Blumenthal-to-star-in-Waitrose-ads.html. 9.^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_8JLkwzpd0 10.^ Norwich 2-3 Manchester City BBC Football 28 February 2005 11.^ "Delia: I wasn't drunk". Manchester Evening News. 2 March 2005. http://menmedia.co.uk/sport/football/manchester_city/s/147/147950_delia_i_wasnt_drunk.html. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 12.^ a b http://www.footballeconomy.com/content/fiery-agm-norwich-city-fc 13.^ http://www.edp24.co.uk/lifestyle/food-and-drink/norfolk-food-features/delia_smith_steps_down_from_norwich_city_catering_role_1_983499 14.^ Delia Online 15.^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59090. p. 8. 13 June 2009.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Delia Smith
Delia Online BBC biography
Persondata Name Smith, Delia Alternative names Short description English cook and television presenter Date of birth 18 June 1941 Place of birth Woking, Surrey ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Delia Smith. The words might roll beautifully off the tongue - a dactyl followed by an accented syllable - but, really, when you know who they stand for, are there four more prosaic syllables in the language? Is there anyone who appears duller than Delia Smith? Maybe not; but I would suspect that there are millions of people who are precisely as dull as her: us.
Last year, I was entertained by Lisa Chaney's biography of Elizabeth David, the woman who is said to have done more than anyone to change the culinary habits of a nation. (If only.) David's was a story worth telling. Promiscuous, maybe even - who knows? - bisexual, difficult, solipsistic, a heavy drinker and smoker, morose, impetuous, intensely charismatic, posh, but with a penchant for ne'er-do-wells, male homosexuals and dÃ©classÃ©s chancers, scornful of food writers ("who wants to be the doyenne of them?" she once acidly asked; the image that stuck in many reviewers' minds was that of the ash from her fag dropping into the paella as she swayed, half-cut, over the pan. The book might not have been thrillingly written, but it told a tale or two. It turns out that it wasn't even the official biography; that's out now. But as I read its unofficial precursor, I thought: well, at least no one's going to be writing a biography of Delia Smith.
I was wrong. Not only does everyone have a story; even Delia Smith, that blankest and most unassuming of our "personalities" has one. It has been joked that the prerequisite for being a TV personality is not to have one to speak of; but few have made a career from as ostensibly, even provocatively, sparse a personality as Delia's.
Well, no one's that dull, even if she comes, as if she were straight out of central casting, from Bexleyheath. Her biography, by Alison Bowyer (published in October by Andre Deutsch) begins not with her date of birth (1941) but with the announcement that she turned down a peerage offered by Tony Blair. Baroness Smith? It doesn't feel right; and not just because she has entered that state of hyper-celebrity whereby we can dispense with her last name.
Her cookery, it turns out, was not a vocation she felt in her bones. It was born out of pique at the culinary talents of the woman with whom she felt she was competing, for the hand of one Louis Alexander, who later - and temporarily, as it turned out - spurned all women in order to become a Catholic priest. Delia resolved to become, like Louis's ex-, a cook.
She also became a Catholic herself. It makes one wonder how easy it once was to make an impression on the soft butter of Delia's spirit.
She arrived in London in 1960, after a childhood marked, it would appear, by a complete lack of appreciation (she poured her heart out about this much later, in starkly incongruous circumstances, on the children's TV programme, Swap Shop). In 1962, while working for a travel agency, she posed in a bathing-suit for a company promotion. One night, that same year, she went to a restaurant called The Singing Chef, in Connaught Street, and was entranced not only by the food in general but in particular by the chef's speciality, the omelette-soufflÃ© flambÃ©.
She became a washer-up at the restaurant, owned by Ken Toye (a chef who, yes, sang). Moving up the hierarchy of preparation, she drifted into other cookery work; as an assistant on a TV food ad she saved the day when someone dropped a pie just before a shoot. "I can make that," she said, and did. Word got around.
She became interested in trying to revive an interest in British food, probably in reaction to Elizabeth David's championing of French and Mediterranean cuisine; she met literary agent Deborah Owen in 1969, to whom she gave tips on how to cook a nice poached egg for her husband, a young doctor and politician-to-be called David; and through her she got a job at the Daily Mirror. Her rise since then has been inevitable, and prodigious. She sold her two-millionth book 15 years ago.
She eventually settled down with Michael Wynn Jones, an Oxford-educated bon viveur and talented journalist. From the biography: "As a committed Catholic, it must have been hard for Delia to contemplate falling in love with someone who not only wasn't a Catholic, but who didn't even believe in God. Michael Wynn Jones's lack of belief could have served to put Delia off him, and the fact that it didn't probably owes a lot to Louis Alexander's treatment of her. No doubt having been jilted by her first love, not for another woman but for God, a relationship with a non-believer must have seemed an attractive proposition to Delia. Here at last was a man who would put her first and love her above all else."
Indeed; and it also seems that, with her marriage, here was a woman who had exhausted herself from her many attempts at self-invention. Her frugality, her nervousness in front of the cameras all attest to this. One recent anecdote from her biography will haunt me for the rest of my days. Filming the How to Cook series at her Suffolk home this year, Delia decided that she did not want the crew using her toilet. I mean, the idea. So she ordered that a Portaloo be erected. But as it was lowered off the truck, it squashed one of her cats quite flat. Now, while it is awful to laugh in the face of tragedy - and I am more than usually devoted to cats myself, and so, in Clinton- speak, Feel Her Pain -- it is impossible to contemplate this story without at least one appalled fit of the giggles. Was this not some kind of perfect retribution, an awful warning against being too fastidious, the kind of person who would prefer to be thought prissy rather than charitable?
She used to infuriate me: with her mimsiness, her chilly relationship to the very stuff she was cooking with, the suffocatingly utilitarian nature of her prose. There are those for whom cookery is not simply a matter of getting people fed, but a kind of camp act in itself, the selfish person's way of being both the cynosure and - for once - the performer of useful acts; such people (and I suppose I'm one), if they take themselves too literally, have a problem with Delia, who on the surface not so much represents as embodies the conventionality they abhor. I would, for example, turn the spines of her recipe books towards the wall when visitors I wished to impress came round.
Still, you can tell she doesn't like to get her hands dirty: even if this is not in fact the case, the impression you get from her movements in the kitchen is very much one of a woman who would prefer to avoid sensuous contact with the ingredients. And, if we can be allowed to venture some idle and indeed terribly inappropriate speculation, based on not what people are but what they appear to be, you can wonder whether or not this lack of tactility would be transferred intact into other, more private arenas. (Elizabeth David, you suspect, looks like she would have been absolute dynamite in the sack. Am I prompted to such tastelessness by a memory of a remark of Egon Ronay's, to the effect that Delia's approach was "the missionary position" of cookery?)
I think, though, that even those who are reluctant to succumb to the stranglehold she has on the rest of the nation's gorges have come to regard her as unstoppable, a force of nature, as pointless to rail against as English bad weather. Her masterstroke was to embark on a back-to-basics cookery course: how to boil an egg, how to make toast. People scoffed. Gary Rhodes scorned. Yet how many people did he convert to her cause, or at least stop from laying into her, when he did this? Me, for one. Thousands noticed that, whatever her faults, Smith is not a spiky-haired yo-yo with a Mr Creosote-like appetite for his own personality. And her advice was useful: toast is better if you let it stand for a short while before you butter it, eggs are better when they're fresh, etc. Why not know these things, or make money from telling them?
The awful fact is that cooking, as a demotic art, a cross-country culture, is dead. Dead in these islands in a way that it is not dead in Italy, or France, or indeed pretty much anywhere else in the world with food in it apart from America. A friend of mine told me that his son recently asked his mother what "home-cooked" food was. Those who scratch their heads over such arcane terms as "home-cooked" constitute the overwhelming majority of Britons. A cookery revival is as bogus as a revival of, say, the Cornish language. How could it not be, when Delia Smith's first book, How to Cheat at Cooking, contained recipes for baked fish fingers with tinned mushrooms and tomatoes, or sponge cake (bought) with tinned cherry-pie filling?
For beneath the brash millennial confidence, the Blairite get-up-and-go exhortations we have to suffer, this remains a country where millions still live in fear: fear of being thought foolish, or too clever, or too dowdy, or too flashy; the suburban terror of giving offence, that dislike of "airs" - the polar opposite of Elizabeth David's patrician je m'en foutisme - the kind of quality that makes you wonder whether we live in a gigantic, continuously improvised Mike Leigh film set, fretting anxiously as to whether we fit in or not, passing judgements on the neighbours while, at the same time, subliminally aware that they are passing judgements on us. Which is why Delia is so successful, why so many look up to her; and why she is validated by her success. Those stories which are invariably repeated - the frying pans that sprint from the shops at her word, the nationwide shortage of cranberries that occur five minutes after she says the word "cranberries" on TV - are what we expect, and need.
"Here," she seems to be saying, "is something your neighbours have not yet thought of doing" - and suddenly the world and her dog, or rather, that large portion of Middle Britain whose gladiatorial ring is the dinner table, is doing it, all at once. Her quest was never for an independent authenticity, the kind of "real" cookery which Elizabeth David, or her greatest epigone, Jane Grigson, stood for. No, Delia's aim was, is, to do precisely what the Joneses are doing, or what they think they ought to be doing.
"I'm not a cook," she says, routinely, when wishing to disarm her critics; and we assume she means she's not an artsy-fartsy cordon bleu bighead. But she's right, on the most basic level: she is not a cook - she's a kind of boffin, fiddling with her dishes, helped by assistants, until they come out foolproof. Now even though no recipe is going to work out just so every time, given the right formula, it's that kind of proposed security that ensures she speaks to and for so many people in this country; they're not cooks either.
One does not want to belabour the role religion plays in Delia's life, even if one writer has suggested that she was on "a mission from God" to educate the British about cooking; but you can't help feeling that she's a kind of priestess, her religion having denied her the opportunity to be the real article, the officiator of a rite whose responses we are trying to learn.
Her role, or that of the cookery that she represents, is communal, almost religiously ritual, a way of getting everyone singing from the same hymn sheet; a way of being seasonal.
And, while we're at it, can we think of anyone else, off the top of our heads, who rejoices in the quality of infallibility?
Born: 18 June 1941, at the Wynberg Emergency Maternity Hospital in Woking, Surrey.
Family: Father, Harold Bartlett Smith, an RAF wireless operator. Mother, Etty Jones Lewis.
Education: Upland Nursery School, Bexleyheath; then Bexleyheath School, a secondary modern school she attended after failing her 11-plus, and left with no qualifications.
Family: Married to journalist Michael Wynn Jones, 11 September 1971 at the Catholic Church of Our Lady in Stowmarket, Suffolk. No children.
Publications: Cookery writer, began at The Mirror Magazine in 1969. (First menu: kipper pÃ¢tÃ©, beef in beer and cheesecake). Evening Standard cookery writer, 1972-85. First book: 'How to Cheat at Cooking' (1971). Followed by 26 more, to date, including 'A Journey into God' 1988, 'Delia Smith's Christmas', 1990; 'Delia Smith's Summer Collection' (1993) and 'Winter collection' (1995).
Television: (Selected BBC programmes): 'Family Fayre' (1973-75), 'One is Fun' (1985), 'Delia Smith's Christmas' (1990), 'How to Cook: Part One' (1998).
Directorship: Norwich City FC, since 1996.
She says: 'What's a real treat for me is when I go to evening games at Norwich City with my husband. We have Big Mac picnics in the football car-park. I absolutely love them with fries and loads of ketchup.'
They say: 'Delia got me on track when I was newly married - taught me how to poach an egg and make good soups' - Debbie Owen, literary agent.