Celebrities have been around as long as entertainment, and it isn’t just the film industry that spawns A-listers, with celebrity chefs coming to the fore on our TV screens a few decades ago. So, what attributes does a celebrity chef need? Well, apart from being a wizard in the kitchen, a celebrity chef needs a host of other skills in order to pull in the viewing figures, and a heavy helping of personality is required, with a touch of panache and elegance added, before stirring well. The last ingredient is a touch of humour, and this is always evident.
A unique style
Every chef will have their own style, but if they are to be shown on TV while working in their kitchens, that style is there for all to see, and is a large part of the person’s appeal. Some celebrity chefs, are very charismatic, such as the inimitable Gordon Ramsey, who says what he thinks at the time, and is not known to mince his words.
The early idols
In the UK, Fanny Cradock was the first celebrity TV chef, and wearing glitzy ball gowns, accompanied by her bumbling husband, became an instant hit with British housewives. She ruled the airwaves from the early fifties until the mid-seventies, and is credited with introducing exotic style cuisine into the British home. Her shows were performances, often well-choreographed, and with hubby adding the comedy, she appealed to everyone.
The Naked Chef launched Jamie into stardom in 1999, and he quickly followed the series with the book, of the same name, which quickly became a best seller. Jamie’s style is to create nutritious food from a small budget, and in 2005, he hit upon an idea to change the way we feed our children, after taking a closer look at school dinners, and specifically, the nutrition they contained. His “Feed Me Better” campaign was designed to rid the junk food from the British school menu, and his TV series pulled no punches, until finally the government decided to join forces with Jamie, which resulted in healthier school dinners. Jamie has an honest, working class image, and his no-nonsense style has made him very popular.
The glamour of celebrity chefs, Nigella captured the hearts of the British public in 1998, with her first cookery book called, How to Eat, which sold 300,000 copies and became a best seller. In 2000, she penned her second book, “How to Be a Domestic Goddess”, which was very well received. Nigella is a great communicator, and this is essential for a chef, especially one that is in the public eye. Nigella came through the ranks from cooking books, to TV series, and is an accomplished food critic, writing for several prestigious newspapers and magazines.
Whether natural, or scripted, a celebrity chef is performing when the cameras roll, and the ability to deliver good food menus in an interesting way, is the aim of the presenter. The majority began with books, and others happened to be in the right place at the right time, but all the A-list chefs have one thing in common, charisma, and plenty of it.