Jay Rayner is an award-winning writer, journalist and broadcaster who has written extensively across the British and international media as both feature writer and columnist on everything from crime and politics, to the arts and fashion. He currently writes for the Observer, where he is a feature writer and restaurant critic.
After studying politics at Leeds University, where he edited the student newspaper, Jay entered national newspaper journalism. In 1992 he was named Young Journalist of the Year in the British Press Awards, and has since been nominated for many more of the prestigious awards including as Food and Drink writer for three years in a row.
In 2006 he won again, as Critic of the Year. He has been nominated for three Glenfiddich Food and Drink Awards and in 2001 was named restaurant critic of the year. In 2013 he received the Derek Cooper Award for Investigative and Campaigning Journalism from the Guild of Food Writers.
In 2018 he was named Restaurant Writer of the Year in the Fortnum and Mason Food and Drink Awards.
Jay Rayner’s broadcasting work as a presenter for the BBC has brought him two Sony radio award nominations and a Sony gold, as anchor of Papertalk, a programme about the British newspaper business. He has also been nominated in the Commission for Racial Equality’s Race in the Media Awards, for his reporting of race crime in Britain, and for the Mental Health Media awards, for his work on mental health issues.
As well as working for newspapers Jay has written for numerous magazines, including Granta, Esquire, GQ and Cosmopolitan and various US magazines including Gourmet, Food and Wine and Saveur. His feature writing is regularly syndicated across the world, and has been translated into more than a dozen languages.
His varied television work includes appearances as a judge in multiple series of Masterchef, and as part of the panel on BBC2’s Eating With The Enemy. He has presented two editions of Dispatches for Channel 4 and in the US he was a part of the expert panel on Top Chef Masters for Bravo, a spinoff from the hit TV show Top Chef.
From 2009 to 2016 he was also the resident food pundit for The One Show. In 2012 he became the host of the food panel show The Kitchen Cabinet for BBC Radio 4, which has broadcast over 200 episodes to audiences of more than two million. In 2019 he launched the Out To Lunch podcast, in which he interviews the famous and infamous over a great restaurant meal. By 2022 it had recorded over seven million listens and remains a fixture in the UK podcast top 100.
Jay Rayner is the author of four novels and seven works of non-fiction. The Marble Kiss, published in 1994, was nominated for the Author’s Club of Great Britain First Novel Award. His second, Day of Atonement, published in 1998, was nominated for the Jewish Quarterly’s international prize for Jewish fiction.
Star Dust Falling, the true story of an ill-fated airliner which disappeared over the Andes is 1947, was published on both sides of the Atlantic in 2002, followed in 2004 by The Apologist. Rights have already been sold to Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, the US, Poland and Russia.
The Oyster House Siege, was published in 2007 and was followed in 2008 by The Man Who Ate The World, a non-fiction account of his pursuit of the perfect meal in the new breed of luxury restaurants that have spread around the globe. A Greedy Man in a Hungry World, about the challenges of food security in the 21st Century, was published in spring 2013.
That book became the basis for a hugely successful live show that travelled the UK. It was followed in 2014 by My Dining Hell, a show based on a compilation of his most negative restaurant reviews. In 2016 he published a new book, The Ten Food Commandments, a companion piece to a show of the same name.
He has since published two further compilations of his journalism, Wasted Calories and Ruined Nights and Chewing the Fat. His 2019 book My Last Supper, about his last meal on earth, became the basis for a sell-out show that has toured internationally since publication.
At the same time, he decided to pursue his lifelong love of piano playing by creating the Jay Rayner Quartet, which has gone on to perform at some of Britain’s most prestigious venues including Ronnie Scott’s, The Crazy Coqs, and the Pizza Express Jazz club, Dean Street.
In September 2017, the band released their first live album, A Night of Food and Agony. In 2022 they celebrated ten years together by becoming a sextet, which continues to tour.