Between Heston Blumenthal, Jamie Oliver, Yottam Ottolenghi, Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsay, the UK has a serious amount of celebrity chefs. While I do like watching the odd tv programme here and there, I do have some problems with them. I had a good chuckle with Fiona from the office the other day when she told me why she dislikes celebrity chef (and she will admit that she is an Ainsley Herriot fan!). I thought you might like to read her thoughts:
- They Make Cooking Hard
- They Often Get the Cooking Time Wrong
- 30 Ingredients; 20 Pots
- They Are Making Us Fat
- They Are Always Clean
I really believe that it is quite easy to cook up an impressive meal and I have been entertaining my friends this way for years. Whether it's a Chicken and Prawn Laksa or a classic Spaghetti Bolognese (all homemade of course using the best quality ingredients) everyone can learn the basic skills to make tasty, healthy dinners that your friends and family will love.
When you watch some of the celeb chefs at work, you'd be forgiven for thinking that you need to have done 5 years of Masterchef school to be able to get your Monday night dinner on the table. Granted, they're in the entertainment business, but still, does everything need a French name: mille feuille, mise-en-place, sous vide, julienne? It frustrates me when celebrity chefs dissuade some burgeoning cooks by making cooking look unattainable.
Jamie's 15 Minute Meals. Have you ever actually made one? It's a common consensus between all my friends that these 15 Minute Meals are impossible. Whether you need to be Road Runner on speed to get through the list of tasks, or whether the 15 minutes actual excludes prep time, cooking time and cleaning time, it cannot be done! Nigella has a recipe on her website today called 'Quick Calabrian Lasagne'. It requires an hour in the oven (after the prep). Go figure!
I believe approximately a half hour is a reasonable time to spend on dinner every evening (particularly with a bit of batch cooking giving you a day off every now and again). I prefer a website or cookery book which when it says something takes a set time, it takes that time.
Why do celeb chefs make you go out and buy 30 ingredients and 20 pots?
I recently tried my hand a Jamie's budget friendly fish pie (sorry Jamie, you're not the worst, just the one I seem to come across the most). Honestly, the kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it. Between the boiling of water to melt the frozen peas, the blender to blend said peas, the poaching pot to cook the fish, the other pot for boiling the potatoes and the chopping boards, I felt like I had ran a marathon and used every utensil in my house to make, at the end of the day, a simple fish pie. Definitely not necessary.
Also, since when does one need four types of chilli sauce, a strange spice only purchasable in one shop in the depths of Peckham or a bottle (only available in 1 litre sizes) of a type of rice wine vinegar you only use once? Ottolenghi, I'm looking at you here!
Enough with the complications already! Keep the list of ingredients short and the utensils even shorter! Go on, try Sian's Huevos Rancheros.
This is a real pain point for me. Celeb chefs rarely talk about the health impact of the dishes they make.
Nigella's website today has a recipe for carbonara for two which includes 60ml double cream, 50g parmesan and 500g spaghetti. Yikes! Jamie glugs the olive oil in the pan like there's no tomorrow. There's over 120 calories in a tablespoon of olive oil! The Great British Bake Off has spurned a new nation of amateur bakers which should be celebrated. But there's no comment that baking should be a treat to be indulged in every now and again. Since when is daily baking or to be more specific cake baking ok to do.
I love cooking and one of my favourite dishes when I was a student was a giant vat of spaghetti with creamy, tomato sauce. But I now know that this just isn't good for me. I would love to see celebrity chefs using their vantage point to shine a light on healthy tasty recipes. That's what I try at Sian's Mag.
Have you ever cooked up a Sunday roast wearing Nigella's blue bodycon dresses or one of Gordon Ramsay's sharp shirts? Have you ever approached the kitchen to find small coordinated bowls of perfectly chopped peppers ready for you start cooking up a storm? Nope. Stop making the kitchen look like an oasis of calm and cleanliness. Things get dirty, things drop, water splashes, cursing happens. Stop making me look like a mess!