Taste and the TV Chef is the book that brings together just about everything I’ve done in food over the last 30 years. It’s about how the most important story that TV ever told us – how to eat, albeit like Jamie, Nigella and Jamie was created. I unpick how it was told with the greats behind the Greats – the producers and commissioning editors who dreamed it all up, and of course it’s packed with voices from the stars of the shows telling the story from their POV. It’s even got an academic take on race, gender, class and a sexy little bit of Bourdieu with your burrata. But along with the stories of Marco Pierre White and the art of looking good while not eating a thing, it’s feisty as hell, with a call to action to find out how we can tell a story that saves the planet – when no-one watches telly anymore. How do we get the message through that we have to eat to feed the soil, to bring back proper farming that looks after the animals AND the land and to stop eating bloody factory farmed chickens. It’s about food justice and the madness of a world in which obesity and holiday hunger are on the same street. It’s about the bottom billions and the billion bottoms. It’s out in September 2020.
My biography on Nigella Lawson (Andre Deutsch) was published in September 2005 and by 2013, I’d become her ‘biographer’. It’s a media-made term; I didn’t ask for it and neither did she, but if The Sunday Times calls you Nigella’s biographer, who am I to argue?
“The author writes with compassion and empathy, she writes with the warm insight of ‘one who knows’ ?? (Amazon review)
“Gilly Smith seems to be that rare thing – a biographer who can write without making the reader feel that they are being too intrusive. It feels fully researched but is sensitively written?? (Amazon review)
It was followed by a foodie biography on Jamie Oliver which observed the role he played in the British food revolution over the last 30 years. It was published in June 2006 and updated as ‘The Jamie Oliver Effect’ (Andre Deutsch) in 2008 to look more closely at the influence of climate change, peak oil and credit crunch on British food.. I’m now writing ‘Taste and the TV Chef,’ an academic but rather fascinating tome on how TV food constructs who we are and what we eat. It should be the first academic book to include the voices behind the cameras and should be out in 2017.
I started writing a TV and consumer column for New Woman in 1991 while working in TV and Radio (GLR’s glory days) as a freelance researcher. I moved on to food for Taste Magazine when I was working on Channel Four’s investigative food series Food File. The show’s producer, Rowena Goldman and I also wrote our first book, ‘The Mediterranean Health Diet’ after the success of the episode on the Government’s Health of the Nation report of 1992.
‘Australia: New Food from the New World’ (Andre Deutsch) which, according to one reviewer ‘explores the food revolution in Australian restaurants as chefs change their attitude and embrace the culinary influences of Italy, Greece, Thailand, China and Vietnam. A fascinating history of food and dining in Australia (from the 1950s onwards) is followed by a bold and eclectic compendium of mouth-watering recipes from the finest chefs working within innovative styles, that reflect Australia’s unique mix of European immigrants, traditional Asian communities, backpacking youth and unrivalled food produce. Full of great ideas, with clear instructions, ingredient lists and handy tips.’ Nigella, in her column in Vogue called it ‘the culinary equivalent of a good compilation album’.
‘Fibrenetics’ (Fourth Estate) was in partnership with The Guardian and New Woman magazine and went out as cover mounts on both.
The Juicy Guides were a series of relocation guides to the best restaurants, bars, clubs and schools in Brighton which I created with Lucy Shuttleworth when I moved to my adopted home town from London in 1997. It became a local bestseller and was a Sunday Times Book of the Week.
The Juicy Guides led to the Juicy Awards which celebrated the best bars, restaurants and businesses in the city, and won a Community Mark award in 2003.
I also worked with animal healer, Elizabeth Whiter to create ‘The Animal Healer’ (Hay House 2009), and with Jill Barker on ‘Baby Green’ (Gaia 2007). I work with people who want to put their ideas in print and on the web, and use my considerable experience in publishing to advise and support other writers.