Meet Philip Harben, the original celebrity TV chef

We take a look at the origin story of celebrity chefs.
Philip Harben was an English cook who some people credit as the first celebrity chef on TV. (Wikipedia)

Originally published on March 24, 2017. 

Before Jamie Oliver, Anthony Bourdain and everyone on the Food Network, there was Philip Harben, the very first celebrity chef on television.

Today, we take a look at the origin story of celebrity TV chefs and the man who started it all. Harben first approached BBC in 1942 with the simple goal of getting on TV, a new medium he was obsessed with. When asked what he could do on television, he answered, "I can cook a little," as Caroline Kenyon, director of the Food Awards Company and wife of Harben's nephew, recalls. 

"He was very charismatic," Kenyon explains. "He was very uplifting in rather grey, dark times." 

Harben went on to judge cooking competitions, write 20 cookbooks and even appear on quiz shows. It showed his range and personality, something that Kenyon points out as "the template for the modern celebrity chef." 

Take a look below at some archived footage of Harben on television:

— Produced by Dawna Dingwall


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