Mary Berry was born in Bath, Somerset, daughter of Alleyene Berry, a surveyor and future Mayor of Bath who was also instrumental in the formation of the University of Bath. Berry herself describes her early academic study as ‘hopeless’. From an early age, Berry had a firm interest in cooking with her domestic science teacher particularly pushing her to pursue the culinary arts, along with encouragement from her father, who would often compliment her on her baking ability. This fervent interest in the food world led Berry to then pursue a study of catering and shipping management at the Bath College of Domestic Science.
Following on from education, Berry’s first job was at a Bath Electricity Board showroom where she would often conduct home visits to show how to work ovens; she did this through baking Victoria Sponge cakes to make sure the oven was fully operational. This is a technique that Berry would eventually adopt for life, performing it whilst working on TV so that she could get to grips with new ovens.
Yet, Berry’s ambition did not stop in Bath. Having a strong desire to move to London to continue her passion for baking, by age 22, Berry worked at the Dutch Dairy Bureau and continued her education at the City and Guilds of London Institute. Berry would then go on to persuade her manager to fund her culinary pursuits by investing in Berry to study a professional degree at the Le Cordon Bleu school.
From here, Berry’s career prospects quickly accelerated, attaining a job as a recipe tester for Benson’s where she broke into writing, beginning her first recipe book. Quickly, she found success as an editor of Housewife Magazine before becoming food editor of Ideal Home between 1970-1973, enabling her first cookery book ‘The Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook’ to be published.
By the 1990’s, Berry was a staple of consumer cooking, releasing her own brand of salad dressings and sauces which would sell to giant businesses such as Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.
This success bolstered her career, allowing her to break into television cooking, working on The Great British Food Revival as well as her iconic role as a judge on The Great British Bake Off, reinvigorating a passion for baking across the UK, reviewing chocolate fudge brownies to lemon drizzle cake with her classic wit and flair. From her success on The Great British Bake Off, Berry has started her own shows and remains the pinnacle celebrity TV baker.