English celebrity chef, restaurateur and television presenter.
Christopher Richard “Rick” Stein, CBE was born 4 January 1947 in Churchill, Oxfordshire. Stein was educated at Wells Court, a preparatory school just outside Tewkesbury, then Wells House, the Court’s bigger sister-school at Malvern Wells, and then Uppingham School. He took A-levels in English, history and geography, but failed all of them. He moved to a cram school in Brighton, gaining E grades in English and history.
Stein partially completed a hotel management traineeship with British Transport Hotels at its Great Western Royal Hotel in Paddington. He worked there as a chef for six months. Distraught by his father’s suicide, at age 19 he went to Australia, where he worked as a labourer in an abattoir and as a clerk in a naval dockyard. He travelled to New Zealand and Mexico around that time to “take some time out”.Being on his own, he read widely, reflected on his attitude to education, and applied successfully to New College, Oxford; where he earned an English degree in 1971. Shortly after that, he moved to Padstow.
After graduating, he converted a mobile disco in Padstow, which he had run as a student, into a quayside nightclub with his friend, Johnny. It became known for its freeze-dried curries. However, the nightclub lost its licence and was closed down by the police, mainly due to frequent brawls with local fishermen. The pair still had a licence for a restaurant in another part of the building, so they continued with that to avert bankruptcy. Stein ran the kitchen using the experience he had gained as a commis chef. Eventually he converted it into a small harbour-side bistro, “The Seafood Restaurant”, with his wife Jill in 1975. As of 2015, his business operates four restaurants, a bistro, a cafe, a seafood delicatessen, a pâtisserie shop, a gift shop and a cookery school. In 2007 threats against Stein’s businesses were made by Cornish nationalists. His impact on the economy of Padstow is such that it has been nicknamed “Padstein”. In 2009 Stein made his first acquisition in the nearby village of St Merryn, 3½ miles from Padstow, taking over the Cornish Arms public house on the village’s outskirts, intending to keep it as a traditional Cornish pub.
In 2009, Stein and his fiancée, the publicist Sarah Burns, opened “Rick Stein at Bannisters” in Mollymook, Australia. Stein said at the time of opening, “Ever since a memorable weekend eating Pambula oysters and flathead in Merimbula in the sixties, I’ve had the image of the clean blue sea and sweet seafood of the South Coast fixed in my head so when I was introduced to Mollymook about six years ago I knew that one day I would open up a restaurant celebrating local fish and shellfish but keeping it really simple.” In November 2014, Stein and his partner Jill took over the lease of the former “Clay Quay” restaurant by Porthleven’s harbour, renaming it “Rick Stein”.
Stein has become a popular television presenter on food. After appearing once as guest chef in Keith Floyd’s 1985 series Floyd On Fish and in his 1986 series Floyd on Food, he was offered the chance to present his own series – like the “travelogue” style of cookery show pioneered by Floyd – on BBC television. However
This caused some rivalry, even feud, only resolved shortly before Floyd’s death. His shows have included Rick Stein’s Taste of the Sea, Fruits of the Sea, Seafood Odyssey, Fresh Food, Seafood Lovers’ Guide, Food Heroes, French Odyssey, Mediterranean Escapes, Far Eastern Odyssey, Rick Stein’s Spain and Rick Stein’s India. In the last five series, he set out in search of the best in the region’s foods. Until 2007, Stein was often accompanied by his Jack Russell terrier, Chalky. A book has accompanied each series, and his book English Seafood Cookery won the Glenfiddich Award for Food Book of the Year in 1989. Stein was awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2003 New Year Honours for services to tourism in Cornwall and the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2018 New Year Honours for services to the economy.