Could chefs make sustainable food sexy?

CELEBRITY CHEFS were recently branded as a “hidden contributing factor to Britain’s obesity epidemic” in a  paper published in the Food and Public Health journal. Their recipes contained “excessive amounts of total fat, sugars and salt” which were influencing the food preparation habits of the public, said the research from Coventry University.


When it comes to guidance on nutrition, consumers look to celebrity chefs, so their role in changing the nation’s eating habits should not be underestimated. While 45% of the public go to healthcare professionals for dietary advice, 55% seek it elsewhere. When it comes to communicating messages about sustainable diets, TV chefs are an “obvious winner”, according to the sustainability expert Anthony Kleanthous. “Every campaign now wants to have a Jamie Oliver or a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on their side.”


However, given the Coventry findings and a study in the British Medical Journal that found recipes by Oliver and his fellow celeb chef Nigella Lawson to be less healthy than some ready meals, the job of educating chefs is often forgotten.


“I think we should get all celebrity chefs to do the chefs’ course at the British Nutrition Foundation so that they have a really good, sound basic knowledge of nutrition,” suggested the nutritionist Amanda Ursell.


But that’s every chef, including those at the fast food chains. Ursell recounted a conversation with Raymond Blanc, who said: “It is not until McDonald’s start taking nutrition seriously that we will see any change in this country.”