Right of Reply

The television cook and restaurateur responds to John Walsh's attack on celebrity chefs
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The Independent Culture
JOHN WALSH'S article ("A real kitchen sink drama") appears to jump on the current bandwagon of knocking TV chefs. Walsh says: "The world of the TV chef is one of deadly competition, with no room for compromise."

Unfortunately, apart from a misquoted spat between Gary Rhodes and Delia Smith, the article fails to identify any argumentative TV chef.

I should point out that there is a difference between Michelin-starred chefs and TV chefs. All the infighting chefs Walsh named are the Michelin variety. Tom Aiken (Pied a Terre), Nico Ladenis (Chez Nico), Marco Pierre White (The Oakroom etc), and Michel Roux Jnr (Le Gavroche) have only a smattering of TV appearances between them.

The Michelin-driven chef is a breed apart, operating a temple of gastronomy, and desperately seeking his holy grail - three Michelin stars. This, I am sure, can create a certain degree of competitiveness, although I have yet to experience "the dyspeptic condemnation of their rivals". The Michelin chef is unique; please don't judge all chefs by the same yardstick.

TV chefs are a pretty laid-back bunch. We are not interested, for TV purposes, in creating Michelin-style food. Cooking should be fun, and should not be attempted if you are feeling uptight. No longer is it an essential chore; you should do it because you enjoy it. Supermarket HRMs (home replacement meals), ready-made meals to you and me, have taken away the drudgery of cooking. If you don't enjoy cooking, you just need a microwave oven.

Most TV chefs are good chums. Friendly rivalries exist, but I don't know anyone who jumps about just because Delia's got a new series. No, we are all quite civilised, and enjoy each other's company.

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