Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Immediate Family:

Son of <private> Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jane Margaret Fearnley-Whittingstall
Husband of <private> Fearnley-Whittingstall (Derome)
Father of <private> Fearnley-Whittingstall; <private> Fearnley-Whittingstall; <private> Fearnley-Whittingstall and Minor Child

Managed by: Terry Jackson (Switzer)
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

    • <private> Fearnley-Whittingstall (Derome)
    • <private> Fearnley-Whittingstall
    • <private> Fearnley-Whittingstall
    • <private> Fearnley-Whittingstall
    • Minor Child
    • <private> Fearnley-Whittingstall

About Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall


(born 14 January 1965) is a British celebrity chef, television personality, journalist, food writer and "real food" campaigner, known for his back-to-basics philosophy.[1][2] He is best known for being the lead personality in the River Cottage series on UK's Channel 4, which focuses on his efforts to become a self-reliant downshifted smallholder in rural England and feed himself, family and friends with locally produced and sourced fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs and meat.


Born in London and brought up in Gloucestershire, Fearnley-Whittingstall was educated at Eton College and St. Peter's College, Oxford, where he read philosophy and psychology.[3]

After graduating from university, he began a career in conservation work in Africa. He then spent a brief period as a sous-chef at River Café. Fearnley-Whittingstall says "being messy" and "lacking discipline" made him unsuited to working in the River Café kitchen. He regards it as an event that helped shape his current career.[4]

He became a freelance journalist, published in Punch, the Evening Standard and The Sunday Times.[5] In 1994 Macmillan published his Cuisine Bon Marché, which contained recipes and guidance on a wide range of food commonly found in British markets.

He is married to Marie and has two sons, Oscar and Freddy, and a daughter Chloe. His wife has recently had another baby called Louisa.[when?] They live on 60-acre (240,000 m2) Park Farm near Uplyme, close to the Dorset-Devon border.[6] His mother is gardener and writer Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall. His father is Robert Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Television shows

On television, Fearnley-Whittingstall's reputation is that of an eccentric chef. Initial exposure came in Cook on the Wild Side, an exploration of earthy cuisine. His habit of "picking up roadkill and eating the hedgerows [...] earned him his nickname of Hugh Fearlessly-Eatsitall".[5] He followed this with the series TV Dinners, during an episode of which he notoriously flambéed and puréed a human placenta which was served as a pâté[7] and "much enjoyed by the baby's family and friends".[5]

In 1997 he moved into River Cottage, a former game-keeper's lodge in the grounds of Slape Manor in Netherbury, Dorset, which he had previously used as a weekend and holiday home. This became the setting for three Channel 4 series: Escape to River Cottage, Return to River Cottage and River Cottage Forever (directed by Garry John Hughes). He has since bought a farm in Thorncombe, Dorset, with his family. Through his experiences on these programmes, in which he had to produce everything himself in The Good Life style, he has become a keen supporter of the organic movement. Beyond River Cottage followed Fearnley-Whittingstall's progress as he set up a new business, River Cottage H.Q., close to Dottery (near Bridport), Dorset. In 2002 he presented the six-episode series Treats from the Edwardian Country House.[8] In 2005, a series called The View from River Cottage was produced using extracts from the four previous series, accompanied by newly-recorded narration. This was followed by The River Cottage Road Trip, consisting of two brand new one-hour shows. 2005 also saw Fearnley-Whittingstall appear on the first series of Channel 4's The F Word, advising Gordon Ramsay on the rearing of turkeys at his London home. These were subsequently eaten in the last episode of the series. Further appearances on The F-Word in 2006 and 2007 involved Fearnley-Whittingstall advising Ramsay on the rearing of pigs and lambs respectively, again with their being eaten in the last episodes of the series.

During 2006 Fearnley-Whittingstall moved River Cottage H.Q. from the original rented and converted barn near Bridport, to its new premises, Park Farm, a 66-acre (270,000 m2) farm near to Uplyme on the West Dorset/East Devon border.[9] A new series called The River Cottage Treatment was filmed there and was broadcast on Channel 4 in November 2006.[10]

In 2007, Fearnley-Whittingstall presented the short series River Cottage: Gone Fishing, which examined some of the lesser-known fish to be caught around the British Isles.

At the start of 2008, Fearnley-Whittingstall – along with fellow celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay – was featured in Channel 4's Big Food Fight season. His contribution to the season was Hugh's Chicken Run, shown over three consecutive nights, in which he created three chicken farms in Axminster (one intensive, one commercial free range, and a community farm project staffed by volunteers), culminating in a "Chicken Out!" campaign to encourage the eating of free-range chicken.

Fearnley-Whittingstall also presented a magazine-style food programme produced at River Cottage HQ, River Cottage Spring, which ran from 28 May to 25 June 2008 on Channel 4, and was followed later that year by River Cottage Autumn, which ran from 16 October to 6 November. He was a guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs on 31 July 2009.

He was a permanent team captain (opposing a different guest captain each week) on a food-based panel game, The Big Food Fight (not to be confused with the earlier project of the same name) which began on Channel 4 on 8 September 2009.

On November 12, 2009 a new series of four River Cottage episodes started at 8pm on Channel 4, titled 'River Cottage - Winter's on the Way'.

In September 2010 a new series of River Cottage episodes titled ' River Cottage Everyday' began. The series is intended to encourage people to cook from scratch more frequently. It is accompanied by a book of the same name.

In Autumn 2011, a new series "River Cottage, Veg every day" began as Hugh developed awareness for how much meat is consumed daily and promoting interesting and delicious vegetarian meals.

Fish Fight campaign

In October 2010 Fearnley-Whittingstall was filming a new Channel 4 series (called Hugh's Fish Fight) on sustainable fishing and where our fish comes from - he had been filming in the Maldives as well as other locations including the Shetland Islands.[11] The series was in three parts, broadcast on subsequent nights on Channel 4 from Tuesday January 11, 2011. It was part of Channel 4's 'Big Fish fight' season.[12] The campaign benefitted from the use of social networking sites Facebook and Twitter as well as its own website. Before the programme came to air, the campaign had received 13,000 signatures, the day after the final episode there were over 320,000 signatures.[13]

Chicken Out!

campaignFearnley-Whittingstall has presented three one-hour shows detailing how commercial breeds of broiler chickens are reared for their meat in just 39 days. This compares to slow growing breeds which live for at least 75 days in more humane and natural surroundings. Fearnley-Whittingstall is currently trying to encourage people to become more aware of food production issues through his "Chicken Out" campaign.

As part of the campaign, Fearnley-Whittingstall singled out Tesco as a major retailer of chickens which failed to conform to the standards laid down by the Farm Animal Welfare Council in its "Five Freedoms" concept. As a result, he purchased a share in Tesco so that he could take advantage of a procedure set out in section 338 Companies Act 2006, which entitles any shareholder of a company to table a resolution at a general meeting of a company provided he can garner a certain level of support from other shareholders. Fearnley-Whittingstall managed to find sufficient shareholders to support the tabling of a resolution at Tesco's AGM on 27 June 2008, which, if passed, would have committed Tesco, within a reasonable timeframe, to take appropriate measures to ensure that chickens purchased for sale were produced in systems capable of providing the "Five Freedoms". An insufficient number of shareholders voted in favour of the resolution for it to be passed.

In an interview in January 2008, Fearnley-Whittingstall extended the call to hospitality and food service operators:

“It’s one thing to challenge individual consumers to give up intensively reared chicken but it’s also an issue where anyone in the business of selling chicken has to take a stand... in some cases I know chefs, not naming names, at the very high-end sector who are not using free-range birds. Some of them are on the road to Michelin stars.” [14]

Other projects

He has helped develop Stinger,[15] a nettle-flavoured ale, with the Hall and Woodhouse brewery.[16]

Another Fearnley-Whittingstall project was the conversion of an old inn in Axminster to an organic produce shop and canteen[17] which opened in September 2007.

In 2009, Hugh became a patron of ChildHope UK, an international child protection charity working in Africa, Asia and South America.[citation needed]

In 2009 The River Cottage Summer's Here programme promoted the Landshare project which seeks to bring together people who wish to grow fruit and vegetables but have no land with landowners willing to donate spare land for cultivation. The online project was commissioned by Channel 4.[18]


Fearnley-Whittingstall has also written the best-selling cook books The River Cottage Cookbook, The River Cottage Year and The River Cottage Meat Book (including award-winning photography by Simon Wheeler), which details his philosophy of organic husbandry whilst also covering many aspects of selecting, preparing and cooking meat, and The River Cottage Fish Book. His latest book, published on 5 October 2009, is River Cottage Every Day. He has written articles for The Guardian and The Observer since 2001.[19] A collection of his short articles was published in October 2006 under the title Hugh Fearlessly Eats It All: Dispatches from the Gastronomic Frontline. He also edited the The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions written by Kenji Kawakami.

Published works

TV Dinners: In Search of Exciting Home Cooking, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (1996) A Cook on the Wild Side, (A Channel Four book) by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (1997) The Best of TV Dinners, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (1999) The River Cottage Cookbook, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (2001) The River Cottage Year, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (2003) The River Cottage Meat Book, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (2004) Preserved, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Nick Sandler, and Johnny Acton (2004) The Real Good Life: A Practical Guide to a Healthy, Organic Lifestyle, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Soil Association (2005) Soup Kitchen, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Thomasina Miers, and Annabel Buckingham (2005) The River Cottage Family Cookbook, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Fizz Carr (2005) Hugh Fearlessly Eats it All: Dispatches from the Gastronomic Front line, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (2006) Little Book of Soup, by Thomasina Miers, Annabel Buckingham, and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (2006) The Taste of Britain, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Laura Mason, and Catherine Brown (2006) The River Cottage Diary 2008, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (2007) The River Cottage Fish Book, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher (2007) River Cottage Diary 2010, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (2009) River Cottage Every Day, by Fearnley-Whittingstall (2009) The River Cottage Bread Handbook, (US Version) by Daniel Stevens and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (2010) The River Cottage Preserves Handbook, by Pam Corbin and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (2010) River Cottage Veg Every Day!, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (2011)


1.^ "Chef biogs — Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall". BBC. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 2.^ "Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall Profile". The Guardian (London). 2007-10-03. Retrieved 2008-05-28. 3.^ Vallely, Paul (2008-01-12). "Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: Crying fowl". The Independent (London). 4.^ "Getting fired — the best thing to happen to me Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall | Life and Health". London: 2006-09-30.,,1882269,00.html. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 5.^ a b c "Lynn Barber, Observer Food Monthly, 14 March 2004". London: 2004-03-14.,9950,1166234,00.html. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 6.^ | River Cottage website 7.^ "report of the Broadcasting Standards Commission reprimand, 28 May 1998". BBC News. 1998-05-28. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 8.^ "Channel 4". Channel 4. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 9.^ September newsletter. 10.^ October newsletter. 11.^ 12.^ 13.^ 14.^ "Exclusive video interview with, January 2008". 2008-01-23. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 15.^ "Stinger Homepage". Retrieved 2009-08-31. 16.^ See Langleybury for more on the Fearnley-Whittingstall family's brewing history. 17.^ "Local Produce Store and Canteen Homepage". Retrieved 2009-08-31. 18.^ "Landshare — How it works". Retrieved 2009-08-31. 19.^ "List of articles at The Guardian". London: Retrieved 2009-08-31.

External links

The River Cottage Website containing recipes, news and features Hugh's Fish Fight campaign website Chicken Out! campaign website The transcript of a live webchat The Village of Thorncombe in Dorset Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at the Internet Movie Database Channel 4 land share project [hide]v ·d ·eRiver Cottage · Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Channel 4 TV Series

Escape to River Cottage · Return to River Cottage · River Cottage Forever · Beyond River Cottage Tales From River Cottage (highlight show) · The View From River Cottage (highlight show) River Cottage Road Trip · The River Cottage Treatment · River Cottage: Gone Fishing River Cottage Spring · River Cottage Autumn · River Cottage: Summer's Here · River Cottage: Winter's on the Way · River Cottage Every Day


River Cottage Year · River Cottage Meat Book · River Cottage Family Cookbook · River Cottage Fish Book


River Cottage · River Cottage H.Q. · River Cottage H.Q. (Park Farm) · River Cottage Store

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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Timeline