Take That Toque Down a Notch

Delia Smith really hates celebrity chefs. The “mild-mannered” British cookbook author and television cook thinks that snobby bigwigs like Gordon Ramsay look down their noses and criticize amateurs—and, really, is that helpful? “I think it is great to have lots of cooking on TV, enabling people to learn about different food and ingredients,” says Smith. “But what I do not like is amateurs being made to feel like they are being ridiculed.” Instead, she proposes, “people should be encouraged if they are watching a programme. It puts everybody off if you have got some very, very top chef saying, ‘No that is not right.’”

Smith is best known for her How to Cook TV series and the accompanying cookbook, which included instructions for boiling an egg. At the time How to Cook was published (1998), its simplicity sent Chef Gary Rhodes over the edge. “I don’t need to be told what boiling water looks like,” he said. “And I tend to think that the rest of the population doesn’t either.”

Mr. Rhodes clearly never anticipated Tyler Florence. How to Cook has gone on to spawn three volumes in England, and multiple editions.

Not all celebrity chefs are bad, Smith concedes. She likes Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson. “I think they are both really good at helping people with their cooking,” she says.

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