Celebrity chefs have had a part in changing these trends for the better. In addition, celebrity chefs have brought the interest back into cookery at home with exciting and attractive, easy to prepare dishes that offer good nutrition as well as good flavour.
Celebrity chefs have not only entertained viewers for years, they have also begun to undertake educating the public regarding safe food handling, nutrition and other important issues that have fallen by the wayside in modern dual-income society. Their presence has made a positive impact in homes, schools and the hospitality industry by educating people about the foods they choose to eat, how they are prepared in the most nutritious manner, and the most beneficial combinations to eat to promote good health.
Recently the issue of safe food handling took centre stage; the public badly needed education regarding proper handling, cooking and storage temperatures. For a while, this took precedence after the April 2001 edition of the Environmental Health Journal (EHJ) published an article with the issue of hygiene being deemed underemphasized by celebrity chefs. Chef Antony Worrall Thompson was criticized for one of his columns in the The Independent where he stated that too much attention was being drawn to 'germ-free' food and not enough attention was being given to nutritional value (Nick Warburton, EHJ, April 2001, para. 4). The Food Standards Agency (FSA)'s Robert Rees rebutted by pointing out the irresponsibility of such statements from public figures regarded highly for their culinary skills. He added that research had shown the public to be uncertain about proper food handling, and this could be partly remedied by celebrity chefs taking responsibility for educating their viewers and readers on the matter (Warburton, April 2001, para. 6). The article also spoke of other research indicating that most people had received their culinary education from their homes and schools, indicating little influence on the part of celebrity chefs. The argument continued regarding the television producers needing to be more responsible for content, perhaps including safe food handling practices into celebrity chef programmes. Since this particular article was published, celebrity chefs have been more careful to ensure a more complete message regarding the safe handling and preparation of food.
Another example of celebrity chefs educating the public for the better is in the school kitchens. Since eating habits are established at an early age and since children eat meals at school, school dinners have been targeted as an appropriate venue for radical change. Below are some examples of school dinners that have been deemed unhealthy by celebrity chefs:
Meal 1: Pepperoni & Tomato Pizza
Jacket Potato with a vegetarian Chilli Sauce or Tuna
Apple & Orange Duff
Meal 2: Chicken Goulash Tagliatelle with a Garlic, Herb & Bean Sauce
Filled Jacket Potato
(Menu 2, cont.)