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On one hand...

Women "can't cook to save their lives", celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has said.

Angela Hartnett, head chef at the Ramsay's The Connaught in Mayfair and a Michelin-starred chef, defended his comments. She said they were based on a survey for a TV programme which claimed 75% of women asked admitted they could not cook.

On the other...

The show kicks off and we get a visit from a friendly member of staff who warns us that in case Gordon comes over and asks us if we can cook, we must say that we're absolutely useless in the kitchen.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 24th, 2005 05:15 pm (UTC)
At least he didn't say women can't cook in the sense of being unable. I guess. 'Cos he is kinda saying we're a bunch of lazy slags, isn't he?

There's one of my fantasies gone. I'll have to find another celebrity chef to train under in my dreams. If only Lenny Henry were a chef ...

Have I mentioned that the only thing that kept me from culinary school was a realization that I liked the hours and working conditions of academia far better? ;-)

I can still turn out a dinner for 12 timed to perfection (in the sense of foods coming out at the right time in relation to each other -- I'm always about half an hour behind schedule)
Oct. 24th, 2005 05:18 pm (UTC)
Oh, Lenny Henry. Bliss.
Oct. 24th, 2005 05:45 pm (UTC)
It's possible that his staff tell the audience to say they can't cook and he doesn't know they're doing it - it makes him look good, after all.

But I suspect not.

Do you often host dinner parties?
Oct. 24th, 2005 07:26 pm (UTC)
Now that I have a dining table, I will. It's usually more like 4-6 people, and not super formal ones, though. When we lived in Germany, we had people over every Sunday for roast dinner and footie-watching, so I got really good at them. Thanksgiving dinner is still my fave to make, although X asked for non-turkey a couple of years ago, so I did game hens stuffed with a variety of rices with cherries and a morel/cherry/port sauce with some kind of veg and a nice galette.

I used to do big Cal-Mex feasts a couple of times a year, too, since you don't get much good Mexican food in Deutschland ;-)

Mostly, I just like to feed people.
Oct. 24th, 2005 05:32 pm (UTC)
yah know, I've of two minds about this new "celebrity chef" phenom. Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Bobby Flay, Emeril (ick)...the only woman representing at all is the tiny little Rachel Ray who has had to sex up her image (posing naked with food and the like). Plus, she's not even billed as a good chef (is she even a chef?) but instead as a bargain hunter and as an eater of food as opposed to a maker of food. Gender has nothing to do with how good you are in the kitchen, but marketing food/cooking/chefs' gender as important seems to be something people are interested in right now.

Truth be told, I think that the guys are tired of the domestic goddess phenom and want to emphasize that women can't cook to make themselves look better, more sexy, more unattainable.

K. I kinda went off there...I feel like I have more to say, but I won't clutter your comments with a giant post.
Oct. 24th, 2005 05:40 pm (UTC)
I think part of it might be just outright sexism. Cooking is one thing if it's "just" in the home, but as soon as we discuss cooking as an art form, as a profession, then it's all about the men.

Not that I'm cynical in this regard.

May Julia Child gaze down upon us from heaven and bless us.
Oct. 24th, 2005 07:29 pm (UTC)
you know, i think you're on to something. We don't remember Martha Stewart for cooking, but for being a domestic goddess. Women's cooking is definitely tied to being at home...Rachel Ray is still an enigma to me, epsecially since I hate cutesy-type girls. One person who may compete with the boys is Nigella Lawson, but she's known for the domestic angle as well. It seems that the women chefs/cooks have to market themselves as domestic goddesses in order to get attention, while the guys market themselves as auteurs who are making cooking an "art."

You know, I've had this problem as well with my family and Kevin's family. Kevin is a great cook, but so am I. He didn't cook until he met me. But now, my cooking skills have been entirely eclipsed with both our families repeatedly telling me how lucky I am because my husband cooks. I get rather tired of hearing my mom and kevin's mom saying that they can't wait until we come over so they can have kevin cook for them. I dunno. This is only tangentially tied to the subject at hand, but I think it has a little bit to do with it. I should cook, so it' s not a big deal that I do....
Oct. 24th, 2005 07:40 pm (UTC)
The exact same thing happened to me.

Craig didn't know how to cook when I met him--at least, not beyond the effort required to make a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. I *taught* him to cook. It was years before he was ready to really cook on his own, making things neither of us had made before. Now he's a super cook, and my family goes on about what a great chef he is and how they can't wait for a batch of his homemade cheesecake/ice cream/whatever. The fact that I cook, cook well, and have in fact cooked for them for YEARS, seems to have fallen by the wayside much of the time.
Oct. 24th, 2005 06:06 pm (UTC)
What about Paula Deen and Sara Moulton? They also added Cat Cora to the lineup on Iron Chef, but aye, she's not as high-profile as some of those other (male) names.

We've yet to see a charismatic female chef like Julia in the latest celebrity chef phenomenon to really take it away and build a fan base as Emeril has. Rachel Ray is the closest you get to 'charisma' on that front, except that she's more perky than charismatic. If you look at the FoodTV lineup, most of the most popular chefs have a 'schtick' that sells them to the wider audience. Emeril's really gotten that down pat, and Jamie Oliver's show changes all the time which keeps things fresh, though the schtick is still 'very young, energetic chef'.

Of the bona fide female chefs on the network, Paula Deen is the closest to having a schtick, in that she's a Southerner and her show features mostly Southern-inspired dishes. Sara Moulton doesn't have one and her show 'reads' like every other garden-variety cooking show, so honestly, she's pretty boring to watch, even though she seems really nice and her shows have useful tips in them.

Anyway, I just think that yeah, marketing has a LOT to do with it, and that we haven't seen a woman sucessfully hit that blend of savvy and marketing since Julia yet.

Unless you count Martha (cringe), but her schtick is being the ultimate Domestic Goddess, and isn't limited to cooking. But talk about positioning yourself as a brand. Man. She got that right.
Oct. 24th, 2005 06:12 pm (UTC)
Feel free to clutter up my comments with a giant post! Bandwidth is cheap.

I'm quite interested in what you have to say on the subject since I suspect that you've watched most of these celebrity chefs' shows at one point or another. I have yet to see a single one of them. I once saw an episode of Iron Chef - that's as close as I've come.

I do follow the phenomenon, though. How can I not, when stores from Target to Waitrose to Zellers to W.H. Smith are filled with celebrity chef branded products? I follow the phenomenon through news articles and blog posts. I sometimes eat at their restaurants and occasionally read their cookbooks. But that doesn't mean I'm not interested in reading more about it from opinionated people whose opinions I enjoy - like those on my friendslist.
Oct. 24th, 2005 07:41 pm (UTC)
Rachel Ray isn't a chef. I think she claims that her family had a restaurant, but IIRC Food TV picked her up off the 'food demo in upscale shopping centre' circuit. Can you tell she gives me a pain?

I don't like most of the celeb chefs, either, Delia Smith and Martha Stewart have their strong points, but they are all about following these incredibly elaborate directions. I do like Ramsay (even if he's the abusive prick he appears to be) because his cookbooks have clear directions. Jamie Oliver seems a prat, but again, he gives great general advice and the recipes tend towards simple, yet amazingly tasty. Alton Brown (dunno if he's available in the UK), the host of "Good Eats" is fantastic -- an entire show on the chemistry of custards might seem tedious, but I don't really think I'd considered the fact that quiche was pretty much a custard pie -- and I haven't turned out a watery quiche since!

Nigella Lawson can be useful, too.

I think the thing with Julia Child was that she was Cordon Bleu trained at a time when French cookery was considered the height of cooking. But she also had a great personality and was really funny and started on public TV, which was willing to take a chance. She was also really tall. I'm somewhere between 5'6" and 5'7", and stood next to her at the market one day -- I think she was a good bit over six feet!

And I'm rambling again ...

BUT -- Restaurant recommendation: should you find yourself with real geld in Frankfurt, look for a place called "Zum Goldenen Stern" in a suburb called (I'm almost positive) Weisskirch. Most amazing meal I have ever had. Very pricey, though, especially if you take advantage of the wine list.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )