Allegra McEvedy MBE
Chef, writer & broadcaster
Described by The Independent as “a caterer with a conscience”, Allegra McEvedy has been cooking professionally for over 20 years, working her way through a clutch of London’s best restaurants as well as an eighteen month spell in the States. Over that time she developed the philosophy that she continues to live and work by: that there are more ways for a chef to make a difference than by winning Michelin stars, and good food should be available to everybody.
In 1991, Allegra completed her classical French training at the Cordon Bleu in London. She also obtained a Higher Certificate from The Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
She then went on to work at Green’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar, The Belvedere in Holland Park, The Groucho Club and The River Café. She got her first Head Chef position at Tom Conran’s The Cow in Notting Hill, at the age of 24.
During her time in the USA, facilitated by being awarded a special visa as ‘an alien with extraordinary ability in the culinary arts’, Allegra ran the kitchen at Robert De Niro’s New York restaurant Tribeca Grill, regularly doing 500 covers a night. Whilst in New York, she catered for an exclusive Democratic Party fundraiser, which involved personally cooking for President Clinton. She then went to San Francisco, working in the city at Rubicon and Jardinière as well as doing a stage at Chez Panisse in Berkeley.
In 2004, Allegra co–founded LEON, the award–winning, healthy, fast food restaurant group, which opened its first outlet in Carnaby Street, Soho. Six months after opening, LEON was named the “Best New Restaurant in Great Britain” at the Observer Food Monthly Awards, and in 2008 it won the Palme d’Or for the Best Restaurant Concept in Europe.
LEON currently has 41 restaurants in the UK and Europe and will shortly be arriving in the States. Allegra gave up her hands–role at LEON in early 2009 to focus on writing and broadcasting but remains in touch with the business as well as being a founding shareholder.
She is currently working on a new venture, which will be opening in early 2017.
For two years running Allegra has been one of the judges on the CBBC’s BAFTA winning Junior Bake Off, which was aired in Autumn 2015 and 2016.
Previously she co–presented Economy Gastronomy, a six–part BBC2 prime–time series about planning ahead, shopping well, spending less and using ingredients wisely.
In 2014 she presented a series of short films for BBC online around engaging young children in cooking, and appeared in The Great British Food Revival for BBC2.
She has worked extensively with Good Food Channel, culminating in her presenting ‘Allegra’s Turkish Delights’ and ‘Matt and Allegra’s Big Farm’.
She enjoys radio, having contributed regularly to both Loose Ends and the Today programme on Radio 4, and does a seasonal food slot on Robert Elms’ show for BBC London.
Over the years she has worked as a consultant to a diverse range of businesses, such as The Royal Parks, Pret a Manger, The Institute of Contemporary Arts and Nandos.
She also has been working with Chartwells, the educational arm of Compass, at Oxford Brookes University for five years, as part of a team committed to bringing student eating up to date.
Most recently she has driven changes in the food offer at the River Terrace Café in the South Bank Centre.
Allegra was a columnist at The Guardian for three years and previously had columns in ES (Evening Standard magazine) and Elle. These days she focuses her journalistic efforts more around the ethical work she supports, such as the February 2016 article for Delicious magazine about her recent trip to Palestine in support of the Fairtrade olive growers.
She has written seven books, which have sold internationally both to the English–speaking market and in translation. Her latest book, Quick Quick Slow (Kyle Books) was published in October 2016.
Her previous publications are:
The Good Cook (Hodder & Stoughton, 2000).
Allegra McEvedy’s Colour Cookbook (Kyle Cathie, 2006). Winner in the Chefs and Restaurants category of the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ Cookbook Awards.
LEON: Ingredients & Recipes (Conran Octopus, 2008). Currently on its fourth UK print run; published in America in 2014 in hardback and 2016 in paperback.
Economy Gastronomy (Michael Joseph, 2009). The bestselling tie–in book to the BBC TV series, which sold over 100,000 copies.
Bought, Borrowed & Stolen: Recipes and Knives from a Travelling Chef (Conran Octopus, 2011); the paperback was re–titled Around the World in 120 Recipes and came out in June 2013.
Big Table Busy Kitchen (Quercus, 2013) Winner of the ‘Best Female Chef Cookbook’ in the World Gourmand Awards 2014.
The Good Stuff
Allegra is a proud and active patron for the Fairtrade Foundation, and an ambassador for Compassion in World Farming. She is also a patron of The Food Chain, a charity that teaches people with HIV and AIDS both how to eat and cook in a way that supports a healthy lifestyle.
In 2008, Allegra was awarded an MBE for services to the hospitality industry, with the citation of promoting healthier eating and ethical sourcing in the UK.
She lives in West London with her daughter, round the corner from where she grew up.