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Should celebrity chefs/food shows adjust their offerings in accordance with economic conditions?


Anna N

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Over here  @blue_dolphinnoted that Jamie Oliver was dissed by the British public for his two-part TV series on Christmas dinner. They took him to task, not only for expensive ingredients, but for the long cooking that uses electricity for extended periods of time.

 

In fairness, in the past, Jamie has definitely shown the existence of a social conscience. He made quite an effort to reform school lunches and to encourage healthy eating.

 

We are all familiar with José Andrés extraordinary efforts to feed those in disaster areas. 

 

How much input Jamie had into the TV shows is questionable, but I would think enough to judge its appropriateness. But then how long ago was the two-part series actually shot?

 

So I ask you — should we expect that celebrity chefs and food shows respond to almost unprecedented inflation and energy shortages or is that asking too much? Would we engage with shows promoting budget meals? 
 

(Not everyone has been affected equally by rising food costs so I expect different responses.)

 


 

 

 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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I think it is up to the producers of such things to canvas viewer wants/needs. Personally never cook from or watch them but I suppose many do. Offering more substitution ideas - but really it is entertainment not eduction. 

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As you say, we don't know when this was actually made, but the television company still had choice of whether or not to broadcast it in the current situation.

 

My own point of view is that these programs are mainly just entertainment (how many people actually go on to cook the dishes?) and as such it is more about fantasy than fact. So, times are hard for many people; that doesn't mean we should ban all upbeat television!

 

Even the people moaning are probably enjoying themselves!

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A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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Given the long lead times, I think it's unrealistic to expect international celebrity products like cookbooks, television programming and magazine features to react swiftly to volatile economic conditions.  That means there's a risk of things falling flat, as anyone who published entertaining cookbooks, restaurant guides or destination wedding planners in early 2020.  

Depending on their audiences, I might expect celebrity chefs who regularly publish newspaper columns or have their own online presence with blogs, Instagram, etc. to be a bit more reactive. 

That does require understanding who their audiences are and what's relevant to them.  That Daily Mail Jamie Oliver-bashing article that I linked to mentioned that Oliver was also roasted as out of touch for a recent series on £1 dishes.  I'm not sure exactly what  the issue was.  Maybe the dishes were priced out at £1 at the time of filming but no longer doable at that price by the time it aired. Or maybe it's just a haters gonna hate thing.

Edited to add that I followed the link to read the £1 Wonders gripes (the DM article is here) and there are a number of concerns but it seems like many people felt they were being preached to about frugality by a guy worth £240 million so I guess we should ask whether it's even believable when celebrity chefs attempt to enter that space. 

 

Maybe this is a DM thing but it made me laugh that both of these Jamie Oliver TV show bashing articles ended up with a bunch of recipes from the just-trashed programs.  As @gfweb suggested over in the other thread, maybe that negativity is just clickbait.

 

Back to your questions. Would I engage with shows promoting budget meals?  I don't watch much food TV, but if I heard good buzz, I might take a look.  Budget-stretching strategies for large families?  Probably not for me.   I'm concerned about food waste and energy efficiency so if there were entertaining programs framed in that way, I would definitely check it out. As @heidih and @liuzhou have said, the TV stuff is largely entertainment.

 

 

 

 

Edited by blue_dolphin
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4 hours ago, Anna N said:

So I ask you — should we expect that celebrity chefs and food shows respond to almost unprecedented inflation and energy shortages or is that asking too much? Would we engage with shows promoting budget meals? 
 

(Not everyone has been affected equally by rising food costs so I expect different responses.)

 

I don't want TV cooks to comment or even attune themselves to whatever is going on in the world.  I don't watch food shows to wallow in current miseries, but to escape them.

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I don't think we should expect them to do anything.  But I do think that we'll be more likely to, to put it crassly, consume their content, if it is more relevant to our situation.

 

I think one of the factors that got Jamie Oliver into trouble here is the fact that in the UK, energy costs are through the roof.  As an American, I don't even factor in energy costs when cooking a meal.

 

But eggs, for instance, have tripled in price over the last couple of years.

 

So yeah, I really am interested in frugal cooking.  Historically, some of the best dishes have come out of the lowest classes.  Using the cheapest cuts to the best effect.  That is the best form of cooking.

 

Edited by IndyRob (log)
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In considering Oliver's reviews we can't completely forget the British tradition of hyperbolic...too-clever criticism.  I often smile reading reviews from GB, but was that appetizer really a dog's breakfast?  Nah.

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Critics criticize , that's their calling and livelihood. 

 

I don't wonder what they cook , or how they eat , or if the DM

 

has an expense account.

 

over the corse of quite some time , JO has done some very unusual work 

 

based on food.   

 

there have been shows on healthier cooking , budget cooking

 

for very specific households , as an example. .

 

but , it gets dark way to early these days 

 

and it's cold.

 

twinkling lights in the kitchen 

 

and decently thought out dishes 

 

is a form of Good Cheer.

 

his cooking has never been Dump and Stir .

 

so I congratulate him , and all that he has done re Food.

 

not all his projects worked out .  but he did give them his best.

 

very few people w his means do this .

 

and his means he earned himself .

 

 

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As a collector of cookbooks, I can see in other times of economic downturn and rationing (WWI & II), how quickly the media and publishing world reacted to the need. This was pre-TV cooking shows, and while there were certainly some renowned chefs, am not sure there were celebrity chefs in the same sense that they exist today. But print media certainly reacted quickly to fill the need of home cooks who needed help in dealing with food shortages and budget issues.

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Deb

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5 minutes ago, Maison Rustique said:

As a collector of cookbooks, I can see in other times of economic downturn and rationing (WWI & II), how quickly the media and publishing world reacted to the need. This was pre-TV cooking shows, and while there were certainly some renowned chefs, am not sure there were celebrity chefs in the same sense that they exist today. But print media certainly reacted quickly to fill the need of home cooks who needed help in dealing with food shortages and budget issues.

I own my grandmother's wartime edition of The American Woman's Cookbook (apparently Canadian women liked it too) with a rather large section of rationing-friendly recipes added. A couple of the desserts were popular enough to stay in the family's regular rotation when I was a kid.

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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12 hours ago, IndyRob said:

So yeah, I really am interested in frugal cooking.  Historically, some of the best dishes have come out of the lowest classes.  Using the cheapest cuts to the best effect.  That is the best form of cooking.

 

Me, too.   Ironically, for most of us sourcing some of these ingredients is not easy.   Lamb tongues.   Or have escalated in price.   Oxtails.    And look what some beans can cost! 

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Sadly the article linked is from the daily mail, one of several papers here in the UK that unfortunately just try to stir up hate. I'm not the biggest fan of Jamie Oliver (the original naked chef shows were the only series I managed to watch all of), but I do think that throughout his public career he has acted upon the constructive feedback (you don't have 30 minutes let's make 15 minute meals). Jamie Oliver is just one of those figures that not matter what he tries to do he will still get negative press. 

 

TV shows should definitely make some effort to show some respect the economic climate of the viewers, by offering some appropriate programming. However, It will always be a tricky one making a show that draws in the viewers without having an out of touch wealthy presenter that doesn't understand the true difficulties cooking nutritious food on an extremely tight budget, without the benefit of economy of scale.  That is not to say I want all the food shows to be on frugal cooking, because, when watching TV, I mostly want to be entertained and distracted from the day to day realities. 

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" . . . It seems some in the UK were less enthusiastic: . . . "

so . . . they adapt to spam and kale casseroles . . .

and in the future, when things improve, the re-runs will be blasted for being such cheap SOB's at Christmas time . . .

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personally, I have opted to CANCEL all those people who get offended at the sillest stuff.  they simply do not have a place in my world.

 

my "goto" cook book is 'The United States Regional Cook Book' - a CIA 'issue' from 1939.  it has all the pre-war goodies, no short-cuts, no MSG,,,,

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Economic conditions??  Why stop there?  What about shows that don't give a nod to diabetics, to vegans, to gluten-free, paleo or keto followers?  

 

There are more than enough cooking shows that allow everyone to find their type or favorite.

 

Let the ratings handle it; networks will drop shows that don't produce revenue or get bad viewer feedback.  

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1 hour ago, Tropicalsenior said:

I managed to find some gorgeous ones here last week for $75 a pound. I bought two kilos.

Please be to God those are Costa Rican dollars. 

Edited by Anna N
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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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56 minutes ago, gulfporter said:

Economic conditions??  Why stop there?  What about shows that don't give a nod to diabetics, to vegans, to gluten-free, paleo or keto followers?  

 

There are more than enough cooking shows that allow everyone to find their type or favorite.

 

Let the ratings handle it; networks will drop shows that don't produce revenue or get bad viewer feedback.  

Why stop there? Because the subject was addressing economics. I have certainly seen a show for vegans. I am trying to remember the name of the show was a while back.  

Edited by Anna N
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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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17 hours ago, gfweb said:

In considering Oliver's reviews we can't completely forget the British tradition of hyperbolic...too-clever criticism.  I often smile reading reviews from GB, but was that appetizer really a dog's breakfast?  Nah.


I personally find Jamie to be among the most annoying of food personalities, and he has had some truly tone deaf whoppers (the time where he buried a low income family’s fry daddy in the back yard springs to mind) but, boy these feel unfair.

 

This is not Gwenneth Paltrow hawking $1000 cheese.   He’s making a holiday dinner with a turkey and roast potatoes.    What do people want him to do?  Show you how to cook ramen for a family of five?

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39 minutes ago, Dr. Teeth said:

This is not Gwenneth Paltrow hawking $1000 cheese.   He’s making a holiday dinner with a turkey and roast potatoes.    What do people want him to do?  Show you how to cook ramen for a family of five?

When you consider the cost of the energy required to cook those potatoes, it puts a different spin on it I think. I cannot imagine half of my income going to energy costs. It is not just the. WHAT but the HOW.   
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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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You know, I cooked frugally for a number of years, out of necessity. Fortunately, I don’t have to do that now. A lot of the ”frugal” dishes still appear in my regular menus. I grew to love them. You can do a lot with ground beef, or beans with smoked sausage. But I do love being able to put fresh tuna steak, or filet, or crab legs, into the rotation occasionally. 

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