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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Which TV chef are you?


I was planning a blog post in my head last night about TV chefs, and then today came the sad news that eccentric TV chef Keith Floyd has died at 65.

He was a classic example of a celebrity chef who polarised opinion. You either loved him or hated him. I never bought any of his books, but he was very watchable.

TV chefs come under three categories: firstly, watchable and entertaining but not "proper chefs" (Nigella, Floyd, Worral-Thompson, Ainsley, James Martin etc). Then there are those who are proper chefs, but not always very entertaining - Heston Blumenthal. And then the very rare hybrid, both entertaining and a seriously good chef (Marco Pierre-White.)

I love watching cookery shows and J finds it strange that with all the knowledge I must surely have acquired, I can still turn out tough roast beef on Sundays. It's the meat, I try to tell him.

I adore Nigella Lawson and I do have most of her books, although I haven't tried many of the recipes. I just like looking at the pictures. I think we all wish we could be Nigella: rich, famous, elegant.

I've never understood the appeal of Jamie Oliver. He seems too young and inexperienced to me to be held up as a food expert. I remember him throwing stuff into a pan and that characterises his approach to me. I can't take it seriously.

It's the same with Gordon Ramsay. I'm afraid I never got over the fact he was a footballer. I used to like his Kitchen Nightmares programmes - the first time - but he's too shouty and profane for me.

James Martin is a tubby twit without a neck who specialises in spun sugar baskets (yawn). Delia Smith is the one who's taught most of us how to cook. I don't enjoy her shows very much but her books are indispensable in terms of know-how. I also have an old Marguerite Patten book - she's now over 90 and used to advise housewives on how to cook in the war years.

I admire Marco Pierre White very much but I wonder about his taste buds. He uses a lot of ketchup and Knorr cubes, both containing vast amounts of salt. I always want to shout at the TV when chefs criticise food for not having enough salt. They should be weaning us off it and using herbs instead.

Heston Blumenthal doesn't do it for me, either personality or food wise. I've been to his Fat Duck restaurant on a couple of occasions. The first time it's a thrilling experience. The second time, oh not smoky bacon ice-cream again.

I would like to see Michel Roux Jnr given his own show. I could imagine that with his high degree of expertise and his stern, no nonsense approach, we could learn quite a lot, although it wouldn't be as entertaining as when Floyd was cooking and pouring himself generous measures of wine.

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