Monday, 5 September 2011

Just Cook Will You…

“James Martin is on a mission to transform the standard of food at Scarborough General Hospital, North Yorkshire.” On the face of it, this sentence might sound like good news. Unwittingly, you're probably thinking ‘Great, it's about time somebody sorted out the food in that place’, but then, slowly, it'll dawn on you just who James Martin is, at which point you're probably likely to emit a dejected sigh, followed by the most obscene phrase in the English language, a phrase which contains no less than three C words...Celebrity...Chef...Campaign. Then you'll probably call James Martin a cunt.

No longer content to teach an ignorant nation the frankly vital skills of cake decoration or how best to season a risotto, today's television chefs are following in the footsteps of yesterday's pop stars, by (deep breath), trying to save the world. Like everything else in the universe, it all started with Jamie Oliver. Once content to drive his scooter round the English countryside blind drunk after gorging on an over inflated sense of self-importance and first pressing extra virgin olive oil, Oliver now gets his kicks hanging around the UN building in New York pestering Ban Ki Moon for a “global movement to make obesity a human rights issue”. And on that, isn't it about time that someone told Jamie Oliver he's a little bit overweight himself? I mean we all like to have a go at fat kids in Rotherham, but if you spend your entire working life guzzling Sainsbury's taste the difference confectionary, ostensibly bought for your ridiculously named children, despite the fact they never even get near them then aren’t you a bit of a hypocrite. Talk about the sous vide calling the soufflé ramekins black.

Yes truly TV chefs are the protest singers of our time, although in the case of James Martin he's clearly lip-synching to a cover, as anyone with a TV set and even the vaguest knowledge of popular culture knows that Cordon-Bleu mad scientist Heston Blumenthal already solved the issue of hospital food earlier this year, right after he dealt with the slightly more pressing matter of the quality of snacks served at motorway service stations. And therein lies the problem: there are clearly not enough evils in this world to give one each to our talented band of celebrity chefs to solve. Of course, it doesn't help when busy bodies like Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whatshisface aren't practicing what they preach and are clearly being greedy. Not content with bagsying all the problems in the world's oceans with his Fish Fight, apparently some ingenious pescatarian preservation scheme based upon the premise that we should NOT kill all the living creatures in the seas; HFW branched out to poultry with his latest venture, Chicken Out, a campaign designed to give chickens bigger houses and access to superfast broadband launched because -  and I quote -  "I feel so strongly about the welfare of our chickens”. However, this is still small-fry compared to Oliver, who, completely unperturbed by such trifling matters as a lack of any expertise or indeed natural ability, single-handedly revolutionised the national curriculum in Jamie's Dream School. According to leaked reports his next project will see the phonetically challenged Oliver team up with everyone's favourite lowly billionaire Bono, in which the pair successfully achieve the writing off of all third world debt and all in good time for Oliver's duet with Deila Smith on the Norwich City FA Cup song, conveniently released in the lead up to the 2014 election, at which he'll be standing in place of Nick Clegg.

You have to feel sorry for the old school, those TV chefs being left behind who foolishly believe that the barometer by which they will be judged is the number of Michelin Stars awarded and not the number of fashionable causes they can lend their name too. Should we expect to see Raymond Blanc attempting to cut teen pregnancy rates in 2011? Ainslie Harriot spearheading an inner city literacy campaign and that really young looking one from Ready Steady Cook advocating the decriminalization of heroin as the most effective method of reducing the harmful impact of drugs in society? Almost certainly, yes.

Once upon a time, before he rode his high-horse onto the bandwagon, James Martin used to make fun of people who tried to make a difference, specifically those of the environmental variety. In 2009 he wrote this in the Daily Mail about the cyclists who used to frequent the roads near his countryside house: “God, I hate those cyclists. Every last herbal tea-drinking, Harriet Harman-voting one of them”. Now sadly, instead of ridiculing those who try and change this world for the better, James has joined their ranks. Such a shame.

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