Charming singing Chef Ainsley Harriott has been on TV turning the kitchen into the heart of our homes since the 1990s. And now his new BBC Lifestyle (DStv channel 174) cooking series, Ainsley’s Food We Love, is the ultimate comfort viewing – particularly in 2021.
Ainsley started work on the series at peak pandemic time in 2020. “Considering what was going on worldwide, I think we all felt a little bit more homely. Something quite comforting was required because we were really all in a bit of a state of shock,” he explains. “As time passes, I think we'll all discover how it messed us up a little bit. When your rhythms change, you become very unbalanced. You couldn't express yourself the way you wanted to because everything that was there to hold you together or to hold life together, it just crumbled away for so many of us. I think it was a bit of a shock.”
But Ainsley had a plan. “I got together with the executive producer and my food stylist and our PA and we just started talking about what we missed, and we missed comfort food. We missed those things that reminded us of going home and sitting down with a loved one and your dad preparing you soup or your mom baking a cake. This is why we had things (in the show) like coconut jam sponge and all those things that we used to have at school.”
From school food to mom and gran’s special dinners, to the food we serve our friends, Food We Love is a sweet reminder of happy occasions and good company. And Ainsley will be welcoming some friendly celebs into his kitchen to help dish up the delights and have a little natter, too.
“Recently, I've been watching the Food We Love and I really enjoyed it because it's so homely,” says Ainsley. “It's just having a chat in the kitchen, having a chat with some people at home. There's a genuine warmth and there is something really nice about it. All the best parties are in the kitchen and as we know, the heart of the home is in the kitchen.”
Only, that’s not really Ainsley’s kitchen! Read on as Ainsley takes us behind the scenes of his show, looks back on his TV career, and talks about what he loves about visiting South Africa…