Ainsley Harriott says he still has love and feelings for his ex-wife “but everyone’s moving on”


In his own words, TV chief Ainsley Harriott, shares the life lessons he learned along the way …Believe in your dreams and never give up.

You don’t have to be the smartest or the smartest in life, but make a plan and stick to it.

When I was 18, I made the decision to quit school. But I didn’t just go out, I had spent the summer with an incredible French family on the Ile de Ré and instinctively knew that I wanted to get into the kitchen.

As soon as I started meeting all of these backstage chefs, seeing them drinking coffee and listening to their jokes while smoking cigarettes, I immediately felt at home.

As a child, I always needed attention, and I still do.

My mother affectionately called me her “little Puda” and friends I have known all my life say that I have always laughed, been rambunctious and shared, shared, shared everything I cooked.

Ainsley appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2016

I’m 63 now and I keep picking my nose and picking my butt, some things never change. But I’m at that point in my life when I go up the stairs and forget why I went up there.

My mother Peppy has had the biggest influence on my life.

She taught me, my brother and my sister to be proud of ourselves and to make sure our shoes are always shiny. It wasn’t easy for her to come to Britain in the early 1950s and make a living there, but she was such a positive force of nature.

She was incredibly sociable and chose our church because it was a melting pot of different families – Polish, Greek, Italian, Chinese, Hungarian – mom wanted us to integrate fully.

Ainsley as a boy with his beloved mum Peppy

Anyone who came to us hungry would be fed.

This is what mom did, and now I do too. We lost it 27 years ago. She was able to meet my daughter, but unfortunately she didn’t see me do all of these great TV shows or collect my MBE at Buckingham Palace.

She would have loved it, because her generation really understood what the British Empire was. I know she is looking from somewhere and smiling.

I have no regrets in life because I find this word too negative.

I don’t cling to mistakes or harbor resentments. Life doesn’t always go as planned.

From a materialistic point of view, I sometimes think, “I should have bought this apartment or this house”, but when it comes to the relationships that I have had in my life, you cannot have any regrets.

TV chief Ainsley Harriott with his family on a Disney cruise
Ainsley with his family on a Disney cruise

Learn how to properly accept a compliment.

If someone says you did well or looks nice, don’t start to quantify it or understand that it wasn’t a problem. Just say “thank you”.

It is an English trait not to feel proud of yourself and to belittle yourself. But you better accept it and think it’s very nice.

My marriage didn’t last, but when I look at my beautiful children and the beautiful relationship I have with them, there can only be positive aspects.

I still have love and feelings for my ex wife, it never stops because she gave me the most important things in my life, and there is respect there. But everyone moves on, and that’s great.

I have a partner now and I love to have love and share my life with someone, that’s what it is, right? Even though she always says to me, “I’d rather you didn’t talk about me, thank you honey.”

Ainsley with his MBE at Buckingham Palace
Ainsley with his MBE at Buckingham Palace

You have to love yourself and be able to forgive yourself before you can extend it to others.

Be kind to yourself, keep smiling, and spread love. We tend to fight, especially once we have kids.

None of us are perfect, but we all do our best. You cannot compare yourself to anyone else.

My children Jimmy, 30, and Maddie, 27, are without a doubt the loves of my life.

You love your children even more than your partners because they are a mixture of the two of you, and they are the most important things in your life.

I am so glad I was able to teach them how to cook and to feel comfortable in the kitchen. They are both very good at organizing dinner parties and entertaining people, I love that.

Secrets of Ainsley Harriott’s favorite photo

Ainsley in the early 90s Alouettes with his best friend Paul Boross
Ainsley in the early 90s with his best friend Paul Boross

Look at me in my spot, we look so young. It’s my mate Paul Boross, with whom I played for the Calypso Twins in the early 90s.

This photo was taken around 30 years ago and still makes me smile when I look at it, a copy of it is on the wall of the Comedy Store in London.

Paul and I were both born in Paddington and went to school together in Wandsworth. We have lived within 10 minutes of each other in South London for years and see each other at least once a week.

He’s coming for brunch on Saturday, he loves my sweet corn fritters and my spoonfuls in HP sauce. We’ve been on the front page together everywhere, from the Comedy Store to the London Palladium to Jongleurs, and had a hit record with World Party.

Although we both do very different jobs, Paul is going to break his guitar and we still love a song. Old friends are special.

– Ainsley’s Food We Love starts Saturday September 5th at 11:30 am on ITV


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