Loyd Grossman has said being given his CBE for services to heritage was like "unwrapping a wonderful present".
He said: "I was thrilled because it was this great recognition for doing something I love to do.
"I haven't told a single person so it will be a great thrill for my family and friends when they find out."
A former journalist, Boston-born Grossman became a familiar face on television presenting shows including T hrough The Keyhole and MasterChef.
His transatlantic drawl made him an easy target for impressionists at the height of his fame, but behind the much-imitated accent is a man deeply involved in the life of his adopted country.
He teamed up with the government to improve the standard of hospital food and has worked with groups including English Heritage, the London School of Economics, the Churches Conservation Trust and and the Museums and Galleries Commission.
In 2009, he was appointed chairman of the Heritage Alliance which represents more than 95 voluntary organisations working in that sector, and he also runs his own successful food company.
Grossman, who already has an OBE, said : "It's wonderful to get recognition for heritage. I'm only one of hundreds of thousands of people that help protecting, promoting and explaining our heritage, including so many volunteers, so it's wonderful for them.
"It was like unwrapping a wonderful present."