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The World's Most Controversial Food Figure


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The USA is a small part of the world but it's a disproportionately influential part of the world. I could name a couple of "controversial" Mexican food celebs but I doubt anyone in the UK (for example) has ever heard of them. The converse is also true - except for the UK food celebs who've made the jump to USA (and therefore, international) attention.

BTW, there's a lot more to "America" than the USA, Honkman. :wink:

I don't think that the influence of the US on the "food world" is disproportionately large, more the opposite.

Actually, I think you made my point by naming Ronald McDonald. If the vast majority of the world's population is familiar with mass-produced burgers, pizza and fried chicken, cola beverages, etc. it's through USA's influence.

This isn't limited to fast food, either. Go to a sushi restaurant in South America and you'll see California rolls on the menu. Ask someone to suggest a French cookbook and if they're able to name one, I'd wager you'd get Julia Child's Mastering the Art 8 times out of 10. In other words, even Japanese, French and etc. cuisines are mediated through USA.

If you see the main influence on the food world in fast food I agree with you that the US has a major influence. But I doubt that most people outside of the US (even those interested in food) will known who Julia Child is and any of her books. There are many other cookbook authors and books people would name when asked for a French cookbook, often depending from which country they are.

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I assure you from first-hand experience Julia Child's books are the standard source in Hispanoamerica.

Edited by Dakki (log)

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Just today I got an e-mail announcement for Gotuj z Julią from the Polish publisher, Wydawnictwo Literackie, which also publishes her memoir, Moje życie we Francji.

Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)
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I think Ferran is pretty damn controversial and provokes as much conversation as almost anyone else in the world of food.

I think this is a good observation, Mitch. Adria is globally relevant (it seems to me, anyway), and his cuisine has certainly proven controversial.

Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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How is Ray Ray controversial? She makes oceans of money, is a rather typical version of the "food star" phenomenon, and admits she's no chef.

RR is controversial in the gossip rags at the checkout counter.

Sent from my Droid using Tapatalk

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Most controversial food figure?

The miserable bastard who wrote Leviticus -- at least chapters 10 and 11.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Hmmm.. a fictional character like Ronald McDonald is certainly an interesting choice. really, it has a good deal of merit. But if you want an actual person who is NOT an American and well known, Adria is good. Except, he is mostly known in the "high end" circle. And really, is he controversial because his food is BAD in some way?

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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I don't think that the influence of the US on the "food world" is disproportionately large, more the opposite.

The influence is massive: There is is virtually nowhere you can go, without encountering the US influence on food. It may not be a good influence, but it is ubiquitous.

In terms of generating actual controversy, I'm thinking Sandra Lee, or Rachel Ray: It seems impossible to mention either one (to anyone who's heard of them) without people taking sides and shouting. I admit that I cannot recognize either, and don't care, but every time they're being discussed, you get significant partisan reactions.

This isn't to say that either one has the least significance, in actual culinary terms.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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No votes for Gordon Ramsay, eh?

He gets my vote as most dickish.

Larry

Yeah totally! Obviously each 'TV chef' has a personality and a style that creates a particular image and appeals to a particular audience. While I agree that he comes across as a bit of a dick, there's something about him that commands respect as a chef. There are loads of other fluffy TV presenters that sometimes make me think WTF, but with Ramsay I've never doubted his skill or expertise. So dick = yes, controversial = not to me.

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I read his biography and there was a line in there about how he doesn't like people laughing in his kitchens - that the work is too serious. Right there I knew I never had to listen to another word he said. "No Laughing!" Kill yourself.

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Depends on what you count as controversy, I guess. And amomg whom. I mean, Ramsay's managed to upset a lot of people with his antics on television: giving people a hard time on Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, swearing a lot. Marco Pierre White rocked the boat too. Both of them presented themselves as egomaniacs overdosing on testosterone. This may or may not appeal to you. You could throw Jamie Oliver in with those two, I guess. He mightn't be presenting himself as some Wusthoff-wielding hard arse but I'm sure a lot of people out there reckon he shouldn't be sticking his nose into our pantries and fridges.

In terms of stuff to do with food, tho', which to me is what really matters--I don't care if someone is a prat on television, I'll happily eat their steak frites and stuffed pork trotters if the restaurant is nice--I'd probably agree with the people saying Adria. People discuss(ed) Adria worldover. He was and, I guess, remains the face of 'molecular gastronomy'.

I'm not really familiar with Sandra Lee, Rachel Ray, et al. Heard of them but in Australia they may as well not exist.

Too, I'm surprised no one mentioned, say, Fergus Henderson.

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

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Depends on what you count as controversy, I guess.

If press coverage is the measure then Paul Lynch is probably Australia's most controversial chef.

Do you remember way back in 1994 when Paul Lynch made headlines in Melbourne - and then around the world - because of his restaurant's 'no children' rule? My memory is hazy but I believe a couple turned up to his restaurant with a baby and he turned them away. He was found guilty of discrimination, but I'm fairly sure that he kept the 'no children' rule in place and no one ever sued him.

That was almost 15 years ago now and it's still a controversial topic, and it's still mentioned in the Australian food press occasionally. Lynch's was a high-end restaurant and personally I agree that if you're paying that type of money for a fine dining experience you don't want it ruined by a crying baby at the next table. But enough people disagree - including the courts - and so it's still a topic for debate today. I don't think the media coverage he received harmed his business in anyway, I would guess that it actually attracted clientele who appreciated his attitude to dining.

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I think Ferran is pretty damn controversial and provokes as much conversation as almost anyone else in the world of food.

I think this is a good observation, Mitch. Adria is globally relevant (it seems to me, anyway), and his cuisine has certainly proven controversial.

That (his cuisine) is certainly one of my reasons for picking him. But it goes further; I know of no other hugely successful (notice I say successful, not necessarily profitable) restaurant that operates on the schedule that El Bulli used to. Or, for that matter, any other restaurant, when at the seeming height of its popularity, has decided to shutter and reinvent itself as something else entirely.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I don't think that the influence of the US on the "food world" is disproportionately large, more the opposite.

The influence is massive: There is is virtually nowhere you can go, without encountering the US influence on food. It may not be a good influence, but it is ubiquitous.

In terms of generating actual controversy, I'm thinking Sandra Lee, or Rachael Ray: It seems impossible to mention either one (to anyone who's heard of them) without people taking sides and shouting. I admit that I cannot recognize either, and don't care, but every time they're being discussed, you get significant partisan reactions.

This isn't to say that either one has the least significance, in actual culinary terms.

I've got no idea if they are better known in English speaking countries, but I assure you that no-one in Austria or Germany has heard of either Sandra Lee or Rachel Ray. Due to a debate on eGullet, I've seen the Sandra Lee video with the Kwanza cake, but I still haven't got a clue what Rachel Ray does. I would count Alice Waters as practically unknown as well. Julia Child has gotten some reception since the 2009 movie, before that I doubt that anyone knew who she was. To the best of my knowledge, there is no German version of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Ferran Adrià and Jamie Oliver on the other hand are well known here (even by people who are not deep in the "food world", though Adrià may be known to them as "the Spanish guy with the weird foams and stuff" ;-).

Edited by pep. (log)
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Is Jamie Oliver considered controversial? In what way?

I think it's in the poking his nose in other people's business way.

I have wondered why he doesn't reform the school foods of his own country before tackling those in the US. I smell a marketing ploy.

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The British Alice Waters?

Yes, sort of. I think Weinoo hit the nail on the head when he said Jamie is controversial for poking his nose in other people's business-i.e., how families eat, (in the UK and US), how kids eat in schools (in the UK and US), and how he hopes to change entire communities, (Huntington, WV and Los Angeles). You can't help but be conflicted when you watch Jamie on his mission. On the one hand you want to believe, and you feel, that he is really committed to the goal of getting people to eat better. Yet when he dresses in vegetable suits, castigates a kid for drinking chocolate milk and stages crowds of people cooking in the streets you then become jaded and wonder if he's just mugging for the cameras-a worthy cause in today's media-sensitive world as it were.

Personally, I don't think Jamie is "controversial" as it relates to figures like Sandra Lee or the ubiquitous Rachel Ray. I've been enjoying "Jamie's Food Escapes" on Cooking channel where he travels to a region and cooks with local ingredients. It's a true, basic, natural form of cooking and anything but controversial.

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