They have become an inescapable part of life but the appeal of television chefs may finally have passed its sell-by date, for some critics at least.

Judges of the food and drink industry's most prestigious media awards have decided not to honour a single TV cook this year as none of them was deemed innovative or interesting enough.

Despite regular and high-profile appearances from Delia Smith, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver on our screens in the past year, the Glenfiddich Food and Drink Award panel will not present a television award for 2001.

The decision led to accusations of foodie snobbery last night from the creators of two successful cookery shows, while one of the country's leading chefs said it was final acknowledgment that television cooks offered cheap food and cheap television.

A spokeswoman for the Glenfiddich Awards, which are in their 32nd year, said it was the first time there would be no television award. "There have been great shows in the past, but it was felt that there was simply nothing that met our criteria for inspiration, education and entertainment.

"The judges seek to reward work where strong professional skills and sound judgement combine to produce a significant contribution to the appreciation and enjoyment of good food and drink," she added.

But Pat Llewellyn, creator and producer of the Naked Chef and Two Fat Ladies, claimed the awards had long been biased against television cookery.

"Real foodies think people who make food programmes are the scum of the earth. We are the great unwashed; we take these people who can barely cook and turn them into celebrities. It is perceived that we don't take the food as seriously. Most foodies think that people who make food TV are just dumbing down," she said.

"I suppose the Glenfiddich awards are cocking a snook, saying that just because you're a celebrity chef it does not mean they think you are any good. Our society is terribly celebrity-obsessed and perhaps they are saying they've had enough."

Ms Llewellyn accepted, however, that last year's shows were a bit stale. "It is true to say that we have reached a bit of a stasis in food programmes. Someone needs to come along and invent the next big thing. We have been doing the same things over and over and there has not been anything terribly new," she said.

Michel Roux Jnr, who runs Le Gavroche in London, originally set up by his uncle, said the snub was long overdue, as there had been no decent television cookery programmes since Rick Stein, himself a former Glenfiddich award winner.

"I am not at all surprised. Cookery programmes are pantomime, it is cheap entertainment, it's not really cooking, it is making fun of the food. Quite often my 11-year-old daughter could do better," he said.

Five writers for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday have been shortlisted in the awards in May.

Michael Bateman is shortlisted for Newspaper Cookery Writer for his articles in the Sunday Review about the revolution in pub cooking, and chilli devotees. Terry Durack is shortlisted for Restaurant Critic of the year for a review of Claridges, also in the Sunday Review. Caroline Stacey is up for Restaurant Critic.

Michael Jackson is a Drink Writer contender for an article asking if ales are as fine as wine in The Independent's Saturday edition. Richard Ehrlich is shortlisted in the same category for articles about fruit smoothies and making coffee.

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