"I certainly don't look at the calories"
Hundreds of food outlets will start displaying calorie information on menus later this month, ministers say.
A first wave of 18 firms will trial the scheme, aimed at getting people to eat more healthily.
High street chains including Pizza Hut and Burger King have signed up, along with staff canteens.
The move, brokered by the Food Standards Agency, is similar to a labelling system introduced in New York last year.
It comes after surveys showed the public wanted more information about the food they buy.
A poll of 2,000 people by the FSA in 2008 found 85% were in favour of catering outlets displaying nutritional data.
Outlets taking part will display the information on menus, boards or shelves depending on how people choose the food.
The FSA and government are also thought to be in talks with a host of other companies to expand the numbers.
It is being left to the firms involved to decide exactly which of their outlets will be taking part with most unlikely to introduce it across the board.
FSA chief executive Tim Smith said: "We are pleased that such a diverse range of companies has agreed to work with us.
"Our aim is to ensure that consumers have better information so they can make informed choices to improve their diet when eating out."
Public health minister Dawn Primarolo added: "I want to see more catering companies join this ground-breaking first group to help their customers make healthier choices."
Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said: "It's really important for us to know what's in the food we're eating.
"This is a big step forwards for public health. Congratulations to these catering companies for leading the way."
The companies taking part are:
• Burger King
• Compass Group
• Co-operative supermarket cafes
• ISS Mediclean (which runs canteens in hospitals)
• Marks and Spencer Revive Cafes
• Merlin Entertainments (runs outlets for Chessington World of Adventures)
• Mitchells and Butlers (runs the Harvester restaurant and Scream pub brands)
• Pizza Hut
• Pret a Manger
• Sainsbury's cafes
• Sodexo (runs restaurants in the corporate and defence sectors)
• Tesco staff restaurants
• Unilever staff canteens
• Waitrose cafes
• 7 Day Catering (which provides food for colleges)