Educated at Eton College, Roedean School, the University of Lancaster and the University Of Pennsylvania. He has been a keen cook for most of his adult life. For twenty years he worked as a copywriter and creative director for a variety of advertising agencies. In 1986 he was invited to write a column about food in the Financial Times Saturday Review. In 1989 he shook the dust of advertising off his feet to become Food & Drink Editor of The Guardian.
He also wrote a cookery column for the Illustrated London News for one year, and another for Esquire for five years. He has also written for Vanity Fair, The Observer, The Mail on Sunday, the Daily Telegraph, Business, Country Living, Country Homes & Interiors, Decanter, The Field, ES Magazine, Cuisine et Vins de France, Bon Appetit, and Waitrose Food Illustrated.
He was Glenfiddich Food Writer of the Year and Restaurateurs’ Writer of the Year in 1991, and Glenfiddich Restaurant Writer of the Year in 1992, and Glendfiddich Cookery Writer of the Year in 2005.
He edited the Guardian Sausage Directory in 1992. In 1998 he published Rhubarb & Black Pudding (Fourth Estate), a book about the Lancastrian chef, Paul Heathcote and the Ribble Valley. Eating Up Italy (Fourth Estate), a book about Italians and their food, based on a prolonged trip on a Vespa from the tip of Southern Italy to Turin, was in the Guild of Food Writers’ Book of the Year in 2005. His most recent book, an account of his gastronomic adventures in Sicily, Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons (Ebury Press) won the Premio Sicilia Madre Mediterranea in 2009. He was also awarded the Premio Antic Corte Pallavicina in 2008.
Television series include Greatest Dishes in the World (Sky; 2005); The Forager’s Field Guide (ITV; 2005). He was one of the c-presenters of Market Kitchen (Good Food Channel) Currently he is one of the judges The Great British Menu (BBC2; 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 20012)
He is 65, has one daughter and lives in Gloucestershire.