Page last updated at 23:03 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 00:03 UK

Honour for TV's pioneering chef

Delia Smith
Delia Smith started her career washing dishes at a restaurant

Delia Smith, one of the first and most successful television cooks, has been honoured with a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Smith, 67, whose recipe books have sold more than 21 million copies worldwide, has been recognised for services to the food industry.

The cook is also the director at Norwich City football club.

She said the CBE was a "very, very great honour" but what she does just feels like "everyday work".

She said: "I've been writing recipes for 40 years now and so I imagine it's recognition of that. It does feel special.

"It's difficult for me because what I do - I write recipes and demonstrate them on TV - feels just like regular, everyday work. It doesn't feel like it deserves any special honour."

Smith has acquired the nickname "Saint Delia" for her reliable and easy-to-follow recipes.

The phrase "Delia effect" has entered the language thanks to her influence on the nation's cooking skills.

It refers to huge surges in demand for culinary devices or ingredients - sparked by their inclusion in a particular recipe - which overwhelmed supermarkets and suppliers.

The power of British television's best-known chef generated a national cranberry shortage in 1995, a rush for white eggs in 1999, for North Wales sea salt in 2000 and for prunes in 2002.

Starting as a dishwasher at a restaurant in 1960s London, she became a Daily Mirror cookery writer in 1969, where she met husband Michael Wynn Jones.

Her mission was to shake off the dowdy image of British restaurants and cuisine in the 1960s and guide British diners away from chicken-in-a-basket.

Her first recipe book, How to Cheat at Cooking, came out in 1971, and she began her TV career two years later with a BBC series called Family Fare.

Smith, who already had an OBE, was born in Woking in Surrey and grew up in Bexleyheath in Kent.

She became a director of Norwich City Football Club in 1996.

She hit the headlines when she walked onto the Norwich pitch during half-time in a game against Manchester City in 2005 and tried to rally the home fans with the cry: "Let's be 'avin' you!"

She explained that she was "just a passionate football supporter".

A devout Catholic, she has also published a number of religious books.

Smith is working on a BBC2 cookery show to be broadcast in the autumn that celebrates her 40-years in the industry.



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