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Who Is Your Favourite Celebrity Chef?

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
Published December 19th 2012
Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver doing a book signing in Toronto
Raysonho@Open Grid Scheduler/Wikimedia Commons

In the 1950s, when television was just beginning to enter domestic homes, food critic and cook, Fanny Cradock launched herself onto the screen with a series of cooking programmes. With post-war rationing, she focussed on showing housewives how to cook economy meals, and gave a particular emphasis on hygiene, always reminding the viewer to wash their hands.

To a modern audience Fanny Cradock seems outdated, but back then she was very popular. Without her, pizza might never have become so popular in the UK, and that iconic prawn cocktail may never have come to be. Not only that, Fanny Cradock was the first celebrity TV chef. And now, because of her, sixty years on, hundreds of chefs have hit the screens. Who is your favourite?

With so many to choose from it is difficult to know where to start, but I guess I should begin with the most well known celebrity cook we have. I'll give you three guesses. Actually that might be a little too generous - you've probably all guessed who it is by now. With more than 21 million recipe books sold, Delia Smith is the best selling cookery author in the UK - even my Mum has Delia Smith's Christmas from 1990.

She started cooking on television in the 1970s, teaching basic cooking skills. Although she is extremely popular, I think it is fair to say her target market is women. I for one can't see men being inspired to cook after watching Delia.

Men would probably have been more interested in Gary Rhodes, a celebrity sous chef who gained a Michelin star at just 26. He made cooking exciting, by filming in places a bit more exotic than the kitchen. It might not have been practical, but it was fun.

Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay
Dave Pullig/Wikimedia Commons

I can't say the next chef is 'fun', but he certainly brings heat to the kitchen. Gordon Ramsay is the chef from kitchen hell - or at least Hell's Kitchen. His shows are less about cooking and more about creating tension and drama - that is if drama means swearing every other word. I personally cant stand him; I don't like hearing people swear in public places, and I don't like people who get off on making other people feel bad about themselves. To me he is just a loud mouth cook, but he definitely brings in the viewers.

If you are looking for someone who is cheeky, but less of a wise arse, Jamie Oliver is the mum's chef of choice. Not only do they like his quick and easy 30 Minute Meals, but they see him as 'good son-in-law material' (or possibly toy boy material).

In the 1990s, my favourite cooking programme was Two Fat Ladies. At the time I had no interest in cooking, but I thought Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson were a hoot. They might have been insulting to vegetarians, but I loved watching them drive off in their motorbike and sidecar as the credits rolled.

Heston Blumentha
Heston Blumenthal on the telly

For the fun factor, I could pick a better chef than Heston Blumenthal. For him, food is all about memories and nostalgia. I couldn't agree more. I know how giddy I get when I see a fried egg or space ship in the pick 'a mix section. In his television programmes he creates magical feasts that take you back to childhood. Not only that, he makes science fun.

The British Bake Off, cookbook
The British Bake Off cookbook

We all know we are never going to cook like Heston (even if he did make a TV series called just that), so for my favourite 'practical' celebrities I choose bakers Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. I won't deny this is based completely on The British Bake Off, as before that I hadn't heard of either of them. I think it is the dynamic between them that works so well. Mary's mild manners and Paul's brutal honest truth make for quintessential British viewing. Another reason they are my favourites is because baking is my domain, especially bread making. I'm not that bothered about making main course meals or meaty dishes; it is cakes, biscuits and bread that turns my oven on.
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My favourite celebrity chef would have to be Jamie Oliver. I like the way he cooks and seems so down to earth.
by Ms. Samantha (score: 2|362) 2156 days ago
I totally love the way local celebrity chef Simon Bryant of ABCís The Cook and the Chef talks about food. His food ethics are fresh, organic, seasonal, local, sustainable, ethical and practical - much the same as mine which is very validating. I love the way he talks about ethical food in a totally relaxed down to earth way without being preachy. He presents like a tough guy, but comes across as a gentle sweetie. His main emphasis is on cooking meals, which is my main ford interest. Unfortunate for me I just canít do the amount of hot spices, garlic and oil he uses.
by sueca (score: 2|113) 2155 days ago

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