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.
Allegra Mcevedy works in USA at Robert De Niro's Tribecca Grill restaurant
During a spell in the USA, facilitated by being awarded a special visa as ‘an alien with extraordinary ability in the culinary arts’, Allegra worked at Rubicon and Jardinière in San Francisco, and 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.
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 14 restaurants in and around London, serving over 100, 000 people a week. Allegra gave up her role at LEON in early 2009 to focus on writing and broadcasting and remains a shareholder in the business.
Blackfoot, her new restaurant venture with old LEON colleague Tom Ward, opened in Exmouth Market in December 2013 and is going great guns.
Allegra co-presented Economy Gastronomy, a six-part BBC prime-time series about planning ahead, shopping well, spending less and using ingredients wisely.
She has worked extensively with Good Food Channel, presenting ‘Allegra’s Turkish Delights’ in Autumn 2012 and ‘Matt and Allegra’s Big Farm’.
She is currently filming several projects for Channel 4, and last year enjoyed doing The Great British Food Revival for BBC2.
She enjoys radio, guest presenting for BBC R4’s Loose Ends, as well as appearing regularly on the Today programme, and has 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, Nandos, Oxford Brookes University (Compass) and The Institute of Contemporary Arts. She has also been working for Pret a Manger on a weekly basis for four years.
Allegra was Chef in Residence at The Guardian for 3 years until 2009 and is still a regular contributor. Previously she has had columns in ES (Evening Standard magazine) and Elle, and often writes for other food and travel magazines.
She has written six books, which have sold internationally both to the English-speaking market and in translation. Her latest book, Big Table Busy Kitchen was published in November 2013 to great critical acclaim, including winning the Gourmand Award 2014 for best book by a female chef.
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, and beng published in America in 2014.
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.
Allegra is a patron of the Fairtrade Foundation, a Fellow of the RSA (The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), and a spokesperson for Compassion in World Farming. She is also patron of The Food Chain (a charity that delivers hot meals to people with HIV and AIDS), as well as the Notting Hill Farmers’ Market and the London Gay Symphony Orchestra.
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 partner and their two children.