Top chef Raymond Blanc slams 'TV sensationalism'

Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc has criticised the TV industry for "sensationalising" food.

Blanc, 60, who is back on the small screen with his first cookery programme in 13 years, said "cuisine" had disappeared from so-called food programmes in recent years.

The renowned French chef said he had turned down ITV show Hell's Kitchen and the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing - which has featured cookery star Gary Rhodes as a contestant.

Blanc told TV Times: "I did a lot of shows in the 1980s, but I chose to stop because TV started sensationalising food.

"I could have done Hell's Kitchen (which features Blanc's former trainee Marco Pierre White) or Strictly Come Dancing, but I refused."

Blanc, who fronted The Restaurant, said: "I don't want to be remembered as a prima ballerina; nor do I want to beat people around the head. That's not cuisine - it's sensationalism!"

The chef, who moved to England in 1972, is currently sharing his tips, techniques and recipes on BBC2 with Raymond Blanc: Kitchen Secrets.

Asked why he was doing a cookery series, he said: "I want to promote pure food and I think the time is right. People are moving away from the fast-food lifestyle and are becoming more responsible consumers and cooks."

The last season of The Restaurant, in which couples competed for the opportunity to go into business with Blanc, was criticised by viewers over the choice of winner, while the couple who won the first series handed over control of their restaurant after just six months.

Gary Rhodes appeared on the sixth series of Strictly Come Dancing and was voted off in the early weeks of the show.