Belfast Telegraph

Ainsley Harriott mistook his MBE for something far less honourable

The TV chef was given the accolade for services to broadcasting and to the culinary arts.

Ainsley Harriott mistook his MBE for a parking ticket (Ian West/PA)
Ainsley Harriott mistook his MBE for a parking ticket (Ian West/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Ainsley Harriott has revealed he thought he had been given a parking ticket when he received his MBE.

The TV chef, who was awarded the accolade for services to broadcasting and to the culinary arts in the New Year Honours, also said that he struggled to keep it a secret from his friends.

Harriott, 62, told ITV’s This Morning: “You have to keep it (a secret) for a couple of months. First they contact your agency and it’s really difficult, because you’re looking at your mates and you’re wanting to share it. It’s so exciting.

“When I first got it I thought it was a parking ticket.”

He added: “It’s got that crest on it, an official stamp and you go, ‘What is this?’.”

Harriott is one of the best-known culinary figures in Britain thanks to his decades-long career in the kitchen and for starring in TV shows including Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook and Ready Steady Cook.

Away from the small screen Harriott’s cook books have made him a best-selling author.

Harriott said that he “got a lump in his throat” when he discovered he had been awarded an MBE.

“Mum and dad have both gone now, and you get to that stage in life where your parents, people are just starting to go, and illnesses start creeping up on you, and I just thought of my mum instantly,” he said.

“She’d have been at church, she’d have been telling everybody, she’d have taken it from me, you know those people talking about winning Olympic medals and their parents take them to show them down the pub.”

PA

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