Blanc attacks TV chefs for degrading life in the kitchen

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The Independent Online

Raymond Blanc has issued a scathing attack on fellow chefs who appear on television shows which degrade the profession and provide "sensational rubbish" for "morons". The Michelin-starred Frenchman described them as a disaster for the catering industry, and warned they could put young people off a career as a chef.

"Today, we need to bring respect to our industry," Blanc said. "Of course, we are not helped in this respect by certain programmes on television which do us a great disservice."

While Blanc, 55, did not mention any celebrity chefs by name, many of his famous peers - Gordon Ramsay and Antony Worrall Thompson - appear regularly on television.

"The onscreen impression of what happens inside a restaurant is a disaster for us," Blanc wrote in an article for the Waitrose Food Illustrated magazine. "It strips people of dignity and promotes abuse.

"Yet we have eight million morons watching these programmes. The brains of the British have gone soft. We have become voyeuristic; we love sensation, extreme situations and the degradation of people."

Blanc, the chef patron of the two Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire, said: "Do these shows teach you about training or man management? Of course not. They undermine our industry, do huge damage, and promote and perpetuate a terrible image.

"Having seen such programmes, would you send your child into the restaurant business? How are we going to encourage young, creative people to become chefs if the image of catering promoted by television is one of violence and humiliation?"

Blanc is no stranger to working at the bottom of the rung or enduring kitchen flare-ups. At the age of 21, while working as a waiter in his home town of Besançon, near Dijon, he criticised the chef. The man responded by throwing a copper pan at him, breaking his nose and jaw.

While in hospital, he heard of a job in England at the Rose Revived in Oxford. After a year as a waiter he was promoted to chef.

Blanc conceded that he had lost his temper a few times - but felt he now knew better. "A kitchen shouldn't sound like a marketplace or an insane comedy. There should be one voice, the chef's. And he doesn't need to yell at his staff."

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