Delia Smith
Name: Delia Smith
Hobbies/Interests: food & drink, football
Endorsements: Waitrose
Charities: CAFOD; East Anglia's Children's Hospices; Health Unlimited

Delia's simple style of teaching has changed attitudes to cookery in this country. Helped by a team of assistants, she prides herself on testing her recipes over and over again, making them easy to follow, simple and achievable. Anyone who follows a Delia recipe can do so with confidence, and her ability to increase the sales of ingredients by a simple mention is legendary.

So where did it all begin? At 16 Delia left school with no qualifications and worked as a trainee hairdresser, then she became a shop assistant and later worked for a travel agency. At the age of 21, a time washing up in a restaurant pointed her in the direction of cookery. She says it was when a boyfriend kept praising a former girlfriend's talents in the kitchen that she got fed up and started cooking seriously.

In 1969 Delia became cookery writer on the Mirror and later wrote for London's Evening Standard. One of her first television experiences was as an assistant on a TV food ad. When someone dropped a pie just before filming began, she stepped in saying she could make that. When she presented her first series for BBC1, home cooking was declining as people were turning to takeaways, supermarkets and the novelty of ready-meals. Delia wanted to run basic television cookery courses to revive enthusiasm for home cooking. When her Cookery Course was broadcast, accompanied by back-up books, it was an instant success.

Delia Smith's Summer Collection and her Winter Collection followed and, in 1998, her How to Cook series stripped cookery back to basics, placing importance on simple ingredients and teaching basic techniques. The book is the most successful yet.