Jamie Oliver has made plenty of series showcasing foreign cuisine, from continental Europe to North Africa and America, but now, he says, the time is right to celebrate the best of British food.

His latest series, Jamie’s Great Britain (Channel 4, Tuesday, October 25), sees the 36-year-old chef tour the country in search of the finest home-grown grub.

Here’s a taster of the varied and exotic menu he encounters during his culinary tour of Blighty…

Essex and East London
Oliver’s first port of call is an East End pub once owned by his great-great-grandfather, where he samples a Cockney favourite, pie and mash, before trying Vietnamese street food. “My parents run a pub, and it’s cool that pub food goes so far back in my family,” he says. “This is the area I come from and I want to show what a vibrant place it is.”

In Leeds, Oliver tastes traditional Yorkshire cuisine and makes some surprising discoveries about dishes we think of as quintessentially British. “Immigrants brought new food flavours, including things we now swear are British,” he says. “Jewish immigrants, for example, introduced deep-fried fish in batter to our shores.” He also visits a Leeds gastropub that serves dishes made with beer. “Beer in everything – it’s every man’s dream.”

The Heart of England
Oliver heads to Leicester to learn how to make an authentic Gujarati curry. “The Midlands is a treasure trove of influences, especially those brought over during the days of Empire.” He also visits places that have given their names to foods, such as Melton Mowbray, which is famous for its pork pies.

An Italian community has thrived in Glasgow since the 19th century, with Scottish-Italians long associated with running ice-cream parlours and pizzerias. “Everyone knows I love Italian food, so it was a home from home,” says Oliver, who also dived for scallops off the west coast and went on a shoot where he came up with new recipes for game.

Welshcakes are one of Wales’ most iconic foods, but Oliver wasn’t familiar with the teatime treat, an unleavened scone dusted with caster sugar. “I’d never had one before, but I fell in love with them,” he says. Oliver was also impressed with the cuisine of Cardiff’s Yemeni community. “It had many layers of spices, but it wasn’t hot – more perfumed and fragrant. Wonderful.”