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Antony Worrall Thompson was born in 1951 in Stratford-upon-Avon. Public-school educated (Kings School, Canterbury) Antony then studied Hotel and Catering Management at Westminster College. He worked for various establishments in Essex, much to the horror of his grandmother who refused to write to him because she could not bring herself to write the word Essex on the envelope.
He finally became brave enough to make the move to London in September 1978 to become sous chef at Brinkley’s Restaurant in the Fulham Road. He became head chef after only one month. In 1979 he took six months ‘educational sabbatical’ in France, eating and working in 3-star establishments.
Returning to Brinkley’s as head chef, Antony changed the menus according to his experience gained in France. Next was Dan’s Restaurant in Chelsea, where, as head chef in 1980 he changed its character from café to haute cuisine, propelling its image into the pages of glossy magazines and Sunday supplements.
It was in 1981 that Antony opened Ménage a Trois in Knightsbridge (widely known to be the Princess of Wales’ favourite restaurant) to abundant publicity and reviews: it was the only restaurant in London to serve just starters and puddings. The restaurant and Antony received a tremendous amount of press coverage. Antony also opened Ménage a Trois in Bombay, with the Taj Hotel Group; in Melbourne and Stockholm with private backers and in New York, and Washington again with the Taj Group.
He was also the first chef/patron to be chosen to open and operate the restaurant at One Ninety Queen’s Gate, a unique club with an abundance of style, designed exclusively for the restaurant industry. The restaurant won the Time Out Eating Guide’s Best New Restaurant award in 1990 and featured in Egon Ronay’s Guide 1991 as a new entry with two stars. In 1990, Antony opened Bistro 190 adjoining One Ninety Queen’s Gate, with a Mediterranean-based menu and affordable prices. He became Managing Director of the Simpsons of Cornhill Group for which he launched dell’Ugo in Frith Street, which achieved extensive press coverage and where the accent was on robust and hearty Mediterranean and British food. Following this enormously successful formula he opened Zoe in St. Christopher’s Place to rave reviews, Café dell’Ugo in the City of London, Atrium in Westminster, Palio in Notting Hill Gate, Drones in Belgravia and De Cecco in Parsons Green.
Antony left the Simpsons of Cornhill group at the beginning of 1997 to open Woz to huge acclaim. In 2002 came Notting Grill, another highly popular restaurant which specialised in 35 day aged beef, based in London’s Notting Hill area. He now has two restaurants and a pub: Windsor Grill and Kew Grill which serve his unique retro grill style cuisine using only the best, locally sourced ingredients and The Greyhound in Rotherfield Peppard, just outside of Henley-on-Thames, serving a great selection of beers & ales, too. AWT is usually to be found in the kitchen of this picturesque pub. He also has Windsor Larder a food and wine to go shop.
In March 1988 he won the Mouton Rothschild Menu Competition, and shortly before in December 1987 the most prestigious accolade: the Meilleur Ouvrier de Grande Bretagne (MOGB) – the chef’s Oscar – which is the Academy of Culinary Arts competition, held every four years, to find the most talented chefs in the country. He is one of only a handful of chefs the UK to have merited the lifelong title so far. In 1989, he represented Great Britain in the Bocuse d’Or, which is a bi-annual world competition launched by Paul Bocuse and feted by the culinary soul of France itself, attracting extensive media coverage. He was placed 6th out of 26 international competitors. His talents are not restricted to cooking and eating: his powerful imagination and flair for interior design are additional factors contributing to the success of his ventures.
In 1998 Antony became resident studio chef and main presenter for BBC2’s Food & Drink programme. He was Ready Steady Cook regular and appeared on the amazingly popular Celebrity Ready Steady Cook. He also took part in the 1999 Ready Steady Cook Roadshow playing to packed theatres across the UK. He filmed several of his own series for Carlton Food Network: a 78 part series called Worrall Thompson Cooks, followed by a 26 part series Simply Antony, Antony’s Scotland (13 parts), So You Think You Can’t Cook, filmed at the 1997 BBC Good Food Show, a five part series called Retrospectives which looked at dinner party food since the 1950s, Antony’s Morocco on location in Morocco, and More Simply Antony. His final series for Carlton Food Network was Master and Servant with James Martin. In 2004 the UK Food Channel broadcast a series of 10 half-hour programmes called simply Worrall Thompson, an entertaining mix of food programme and fly on the wall documentary. 2007 saw Antony’s involvement in UKTV’s People’s Cookbook which provided a snapshot of modern-day British food culture.
In 2003 he was appointed presenter of BBC1’s hugely popular, Saturday Kitchen until May 2006. In May 2006 he left BBC, after 14 years, to host the live cookery programme Saturday Cooks! on ITV1 until end of 2007. He presents Daily Cooks Challenge! on the same channel as well as that seasonal spectacular, Christmas Cooks.
He is a regular chef on ITV’s This Morning. He has appeared on many programmes: GMTV, Hot Chefs, MasterChef, Junior MasterChef, Home Front, Channel 4’s Light Lunch and Quisine as well as Have I Got News For You, Question Time, Richard and Judy, Shooting Stars, TFI Friday, The Clothes Show, Live & Kicking, The Kumars at No. 42, Bookworm, Celebrity Mastermind, Heaven and Earth, Pet Rehab, Through the Keyhole, Going Going, Gone, Celebrities Under Pressure, Freddie Starr’s Christmas Special, Countryfile, Nation’s Favourite Food, Newsnight, Grumpy Old Men and Children In Need specials. He has also fronted a 30 minute programme for Channel 4, Stir Fry, looking at the quality of food in prisons. He was a team captain on BBC Radio 4’s Question of Taste with wine expert Oz Clarke. He has guested on Radio 4’s ‘Broadcasting House’ and regularly reviews the papers on various radio stations. . Antony was twice the winner of The Weakest Link Chef Special and appeared on Panorama presenting an item on the Fairtrade issue on behalf of the 2003 Comic Relief project. He has guested on Jonathan Ross, Wogan and Jerry Springer. He is increasingly in demand by broadcasters to comment on and discuss serious food issues such as diabetes, obesity, nutrition and the eating habits of children. Antony emerged from the jungle in 2003 as one of the nation’s favourite celebrities in the ITV series I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.
Antony is a prolific cookery book writer and these are listed in the appendix. In 2010, Antony accepted the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu World Food Media Award for Best Health and Nutrition book for The Essential Diabetes Cookbook at a gala awards dinner in Australia.
For 12 years he wrote a weekly column for Saturday Express and cookery column for The Express on Sunday Magazine with AWT being one of the longest serving celebrity writers for the paper. He writes a monthly family eating column for Food Monthly magazine. He has just completed another edition of his annual magazine At Home with Antony Worrall Thompson. Other magazine works includes OK, Homes and Gardens, House and Garden, Good Food magazine, Delicious, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping to name but a few.
Antony has been a judge for the Academie Culinaire’s Annual Awards of Excellence and MOGB. He was vice-chairman of the Restaurateurs’ Association of Great Britain. He speaks to students at catering colleges around the country and offers opportunities to apprentices to work for him. He has also organised the Young Chef of the Year competition, sponsored by American Express.
The Oriental, Bangkok invited him to be Guest Chef in their restaurant for two weeks in August, 1992 for their annual grouse promotion. Other promotions include The Mansion House, Phoenix, Bergerac Wines, Bergerac and the Hyatt Group in Melbourne and Sydney. He regularly does live cookery demonstrations at shows around the country including BBC Good Food Show, Harrods, Ideal Home, the Royal Show, The Restaurant Show, the Dublin Food Show and British Business Forum in Oman, Good Food and Wine Show in Cape Town. He fronts the ‘Taste’ shows which include London, Birmingham, Dublin, Edinburgh and Bath. In 2011, award winning restaurant group, One Rochester, in Singapore invited him to be Guest Chef in their restaurant for two weeks in conjunction with him being invited to World Gourmet Summit where Antony showed off his skills at demonstrations and talks.
He does outside catering for selected events such as the inauguration of the Channel Tunnel; Audi (polo events), Southampton Boat Show official restaurant (AWT at Sea), Art and Antiques (London), Edinburgh Television Festival; the Motor Show for Daewoo Cars; The Home Show, Taste of London (and other cities). Antony also does many shows in the Middle East where his knowledge for healthy cooking is in great demand.
He is passionate about organic farming and grows herbs and vegetables for his restaurants. Despite such an energetic professional lifestyle, he still manages to find time for art, antiques, tennis and enjoys his passion of gardening - and of course his wife Jay and their two children, plus two dogs, Flossie, a black Russian terrier and Rodney, a golden retriever, who all live in their charming Grade II listed village house on the outskirts of Henley –on-Thames, Oxfordshire. In the past he has bred Middle White pigs of which he is still patron of the breeders’ society and takes a keen interest. Antony has an avocado farm in Spain where he and his family retreat to when they can find time.
Antony works with a number of manufacturers on an Antony Worrall Thompson licensed range of food and non-food products. The first in market was a range of best selling small electrical kitchen appliances developed with Breville and the range continues to gain praise and awards. From electronic kitchen items and bakeware to the emerging ‘free-from’ market, Antony is involved in many licensing products and is heavily involved in the development stages, guaranteeing the very best products in the AWT brand. For more information on licensees, call The Partnership on telephone: 020 7731 3233
Patron of following: North Yorkshire Smallholder Society NAPAC (The National Association for People Abused in Childhood) Child Bereavement UK Charity Battery Hen Welfare Trust Breeders’ Society for Middle White Pig FFFood Awards (FreeFrom)
For bookings, interviews and appearances please contact: Limelight Management on +44 (0) 20 7384 9950