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Britain is a nation of skilled chefs but 1 in 10 can't cook, BBC Good Food survey finds


Adam Sherwin
Tuesday 30 September 2014 11:03 BST
We might know about cooking thanks to shows like 'Great British Bake Off' but 10 per cent of the British population still can’t cook a thing
We might know about cooking thanks to shows like 'Great British Bake Off' but 10 per cent of the British population still can’t cook a thing (Getty Images)

We might know our soggy bottoms from sunken savarins thanks to The Great British Bake Off but 10 per cent of the British population still can’t cook a thing, a YouGov survey has found.

The good news is that the UK is no longer a land of culinary ignorance. 52 per cent of Brits say they can confidently cook 10 or more dishes from scratch, the research conducted to mark BBC Good Food’s 25th anniversary found. An impressive 32 per cent claim to have a repertoire of 20 dishes or more.

But the poll of more than 10,000 respondents found that that one in 10 of us, equating to five million adults, balk at even boiling an egg. The 10 per cent that can’t cook includes one in seven of men.

One of the largest food surveys ever conducted, the poll examines every aspect, from cooking ability to eating habits.

Yorkshire is the region most confident in its cooking ability with 20 per cent of people rating themselves as an eight out of 10 in the kitchen. Wales is least confident with only 14 per cent scoring themselves eight and over, just behind Scotland on 15 per cent.

Those who said they were better at cooking were, perhaps unsurprisingly, also happier toiling in the kitchen.

Almost 50 per cent of us still sit down for a meal together as a household every single day. But 67 per cent of us do this in front of a screen and one in five of us have two or more screens on while eating, perhaps tweeting about Bake Off whilst finishing our dessert.

A roast dinner is the most popular dish, tea our favourite hot drink and fish and chips is still more popular than pizza or an Indian takeaway.

With 16 per cent of all men and five per cent of women admitting that they cannot cook anything, the microwave is the culinary item people said they couldn’t live without, with 56 per cent of respondents choosing it ahead of kitchen knives (51 per cent) and a toaster (47 per cent).

Whilst 31 per cent of us eat meat every day, 15 per cent now eat less meat than we did a year ago – not out of health concerns but in order to save money on food.

Only 19 per cent are more likely to visit a local butcher as a result of the horsemeat scandal whilst 42 per cent think locally sourced food is of higher quality.

Tom Kerridge, the chef and BBC Good Food contributor, said: “We can see that overall the nation’s cooking ability is good, but there seems to be a group who haven’t ever learned the basics, including a disproportionate number of men. Cooking needn’t be a big chore and is something everyone can learn the basics of and enjoy. I’ve got ten core skills that every beginner should learn that I’m sharing with”

Gillian Carter, Editor BBC Good Food Magazine, said she was concerned that one in 10 respondents are still unable to cook a single recipe. She said: “We know that cooking is a feel-good activity, with large numbers of respondents saying they felt happy, comforted or inspired when cooking, so the more we can encourage people to cook, the better.”

She added: “Traditional trends are prevalent – something we’ve seen in recent years with the increased interest in home baking. This theme, along with a concern about the cost of living is driving the move to comfort food.”

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