Celebrity chefs have been around for some time now, but they seem to have exploded all over the place in the last decade, mainly through food related TV shows.
The restaurant food world is becoming similar to the world of fashion. There are the actual restaurants, most of which are too expensive for the majority of the population - people without generous expense accounts or oodles of money - other than for a rare treat. These are the couture studios (as in real couture, not ‘couture’ as it’s used to describe anything that’s not a plain t-shirt these days) of the food world. Then you have all the merchandising, from cookbooks to dodgy cookware to frozen dinners bearing a chef’s name. Those are the perfumes and bags and H & M special-designer label lines of the food world.
Unfortunately, but perhaps inevitably, a lot of the time the supermarket products bearing those star chefs’ brands are pale shadows of the ‘couture’ level food at the restaurants. The Gordon Ramsay chocolates I got last year at Waitrose in England were vile. The Jamie Oliver ‘herb mixes’ that are even sold here in Switzerland come in useless self-grinding plastic bottles and are laughably overpriced. And there’s that horrible cement mortar and pestle bearing his name. The various chef-endorsed prepared foods I’ve tried are nothing special in any way. But as people become more exposed to the Celebrity Chef, the sale of such items will probably keep growing.
Oiling the whole machine and providing Publicity and Exposure are food reality shows and the like. I used to enjoy these shows quite a bit, and they formed a large part of my TV watching schedule. But now, I’m getting tired of them. I understand that chefs these days are supposed to be rock stars or something…but you know, a lot of them are just boring (or worse…plain annoying), aside from their cooking skills. For many of them I just want them to limit themselves to the ghost written cookbook and be done with it. But I suppose even a poorly rated TV show gets more eyes than a book.
I feel over-exposed to all these Celebrity Chefs, to the extent that I want them all to go away, for a while anyway. I’m inclined to seek out the un-celebrity chef who quietly produces great food. Or just stick to my own cooking.