The Top Five Most Annoying TV Chefs

November 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

There once was a time when there was only one chef to speak of on TV, her name was Fanny Craddock she looked like a drag queen and her food the edible equivalent. In the intervening decades their numbers have exploded and the schedules are thick with chefs, cooks and food writers and practically all of them annoy the hell out of me.

In order to help me work through my issues with the Anthony Worrall-Thompsons and Jamie Olivers of this world, my editor has ordered me to write down my feelings in list form.

Nigella Lawson
I don’t know Nigella personally and I am sure she is lovely person, a touch nice but dim with a maternal blankness behind the eyes. One on one I am sure she is perfectly inoffensive but it is the way she is presented to me that gets my blood boiling. She represents to me a trend in cooking TV, where it is not about food but creating a lifestyle, if OK magazine made TV this is how they would do it. Her coy glances and heaving cleavage remind me of a French Ingénue flirting at court but peering over a side of beef instead of lacy fan.

I grew sick of this 5 years ago but there are now more than ever, with Lorraine Pascale, Sophie Dahl (thankfully removed from our screens) Ina Garten and Rachel Khoo all getting in on the act. I don’t want to see contrived dinner parties and your nouveau riche mates being “marvellous? and “divine? just cook some food and go home.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
I don’t know what has happened here. Along with the Two Fat Ladies and Raymond Blanc and one or two others, he was one of the few TV chef I actually enjoyed watching as opposed to merely tolerated. He covered a cornucopia of recipes that though seemingly unusual and exotic were at the same time steeped tradition; he opened me up to the joys of offal and the pleasure of foraging. He was brave and cooked whatever he could find including slugs and sea buckthorn (though don’t mention the placenta pate he once made for a bunch of Brightonite vegetarians).

But then it all changed, he got too popular and he became an industry unto himself churning out shows and books with abandon and then jumping on the campaign band wagon. His once informative and understated presentation style became littered with dreadful puns and weak jokes as he pitched to the masses and tried to (shiver) entertain. Now I find he makes cringe and squirm as he plays to the crowd and I cannot watch more than two or three minutes of him without throwing the remote control at the screen. Despite all this, I sense there is still good in Hugh but time is running out and he needs to mend his ways and just start cooking again or he will be lost to the Dark Side forever.

Gordon Ramsey
The less said about this person the better. Has he ever actually cooked on screen? All I have ever see him do is shout and swear at other people, piling on the pressure so that they inevitably fail so he gets to shout again. His weird little recipes instructions he gave on Hell’s Kitchen, were like funny little poems. How to make a pancake would be reduced to, Milk, Eggs, Flour, in the Pan. Bosh. That’s not a recipe that’s a shopping list for crying out loud. Not to mention accusations of his food not being cooked fresh and on site but all coming from a central point. His tour of India was an absolute embarrassment as he mocked the locals for their vegetarianism and smirked and giggled like a moron when joined a temple of Buddhists in meditation. Thankfully general opinion of this awful person is catching up with me and hopefully I will not have to endure his brand of ignorant bluster for much longer.

Thomasina Miers
A fairly recent addition to the world of TV Cookery, Darrenetta was the 2005 winner of Master Chef. She has had two shows, the first was The Wild Gourmets that hinged around the wonderful world of foraging but instead of just taking its cue from the good side of Hugh and concentrating on interesting ways to find free food from the world around us, great play was made of the forced chemistry between Darren and her partner Guy, it was like watching a crappy soap opera and was truly toe curling TV. Thankfully it only got one series and I thought that would be the end of that.

But no, she returned to the goggle box with Mexican Food made Simple (not that it was ever known for its complexity), where Dazza really gets to be truly annoying. On a completely personal level it’s the voice; and not because of the lisp that doesn’t bother me at all. It’s the shrill, grating quality of her actual voice which perfectly re-creates the brain tingling agony of nails being scraped across a blackboard that upsets me. This frightful noise is compounded by her over earnest and condescending manner towards the locals as she swans around Mexico like a vapid trustafarian on gap year, gleefully stealing all their recipes to flog Londoners in her restaurant chain Wahaca.

Annoying for the point of this article; Wahaca is actually very good and reasonably priced but I just don’t want to see or hear the owner anymore.

Gino D’Acampo
There are a few Italian chefs on our screens Antonio Carluccio, Gennaro Contaldo and the outstanding Giorgio Locatelli whose fiery brand of enthusiasm is brilliant and inspiring to watch. The Italian influence on TV cookery has proved to be a as beneficial and influential to the airwaves as it has been to the nations palate. And then there is D’Acampo.
It’s hard to quantify why I dislike him so much. I think it might be just be a gut reaction. I cannot say it his brashness or arrogance as these are qualities I often like and certainly find enjoyable in my friends. There is a sleazy quality to him as well but again I know a whole bunch of sleazoids and they can be very good company. Whatever it is, it makes me bristle with contempt whenever he appears (and he appears a lot) with his cheeky chappy grin and his untrustworthy eyes.

It’s a strange thing to hate chefs for how they are on the television; really I should just judge them on the food that they make, after all that is why they are there.

Alastair Newport