With the Nigella and Saatchi incident back on the front page of all the UK newspapers it got me thinking about Italian celebrity chefs and whether we have any. We have certainly exported a few around the world. Antonio Carluccio springs to mind and there are others too. Carluccio returned not so long ago and showed that his Italian regionalism rather than nationalism is still alive and well after years in the UK . As he moved South from where he was bought up, in Piedmont in the North, during the TV series he very clearly disliked the cooking more and more. By Puglia he seemed to have had enough and barely touched anything. Jamie Oliver cut his chef teeth here in Puglia, went home added three times the ingredients to each simple dish and built an empire. Rick Stein came to Puglia had his Range Rover stolen, was arrested in an open market and left. But home grown and home living not really.
We have daytime TV chefs mainly female and looking very homely who cook sensible dishes with a minimum of fuss rather like Delia Smith though none of the Italian ones have earned enough from cooking to buy a soccer team.
The evening TV has UK celebrity chefs with dubbed Italian voices strutting their stuff but that is on the whole on Sky Italia. On terrestrial TV the chefs play second fiddle to the hostess who not only describes the dishes being prepared but also spends most of her time leaning over the various dishes in a variety of extremely low cut dresses. The chef busies himself making the food and crashing down saucepans in the hope of diverting both the camera man and the director’s attention from the lady’s obvious attributes before the said hostess then gets to sample the food he has prepared. Her style of placing the morsels in her ample mouth and the ecstasy with which she receives the taste is as close to live sex as you can get on TV !
Italian TV is still amazingly sexist. How many other countries would allow let alone encourage the cameraman during quiz shows to go behind each female contestant and pan slowly up and down her as she struggled to answer questions or have four scantily dressed girls that take to the stage to dance a celebratory jig around each male contestant every time he answers a question correctly.
But we digress from the celebrity chefs and going back to Nigella and nasty Saatchi who seemed at one stage intent on strangling the poor woman in Scotts Restaurant ( maybe he got the menu with the prices on and was trying to dissuade her from the oysters ) , the big question for you playmates is which celebrity chef would you NOT step in to save if you saw a similar incident. My own vote in the UK would be Anthony Worrall Thompson who lived down the road from me in Lower Shiplake years ago and was a particularly nasty person. In North America I always find Rachel Rae far too nice to be true, so no intervention there and who was that American/Italian chef in New York syndicated over all of America who the studio audience used to go into convulsions over every time he said “and now the garlic” ? He would be gone. But Gordon Ramsey now for him I would actually be ready to assist the strangler and step in if he/she showed signs of fatigue.