Posts Tagged ‘Alexis Soyer’

Heard of Alexis Soyer? For anyone worried about foodbank Britain, he’s the type of celeb chef we actually need

21/01/2013, 07:00:57 AM

by Ian Stewart

So the annual blow-out is over, and those who invested heavily in the usual orgy of food and booze that dominates the end of December are now hoping to stick to their new year’s resolutions.

In the la-la land of TV commissioning, amongst assorted cop shows, property porn and reality dross, the food programme seemingly has no equal. After all, it is a catch-all subject isn’t it? We all have to eat, and thus food can be used in almost any situation, and the genre can be whisked, diced, stirred and folded to fit almost any situation. If you enjoy seething, duplicitous competition – and lets face it, I do – then Come Dine With Me fits the bill. If your tastes are more towards middle-England and Midsomer Murders, then the Great British Bake-Off will have you in its thrall.

Then we have the TV chefs and food writers – really quite a varied category, as some do actually seem to want you learn something practical (Delia, Nigel, Jamie), whilst others are simply selling an impossible dream (step forward Nigella and Heston). Not to mention various restaurant owners and chefs with cookware and an image to sell – Raymond, Aldo, Gordon, James and others to spare. Of course there is the big daddy of them all… Masterchef.  Re-jigged into a competition where hopeful amateurs may, if very lucky, parlay victory on telly into an actual restaurant, possibly even a chain with the right backing.

Weekly, when in season, John Torode and Greg Wallace torture innocent people wearing white jackets for our entertainment. Greg Wallace… the man fascinates me to a slightly unhealthy degree. Having started his media career on Radio Four’s exciting “Veg Talk”, the sometime onion seller now earns a living by repeating whatever John Torode says, but in a different order. “I like your food” becomes “your food – I like”, and the inanity-meter goes into overdrive – “that is a serious plate of food” or “your flavours are your strength,” (disturbing, if you think about it too much!).

In an age where food prices are almost constantly rising across the world and when many children will go to school with nothing in their bellies, a plate of food can indeed be serious. Yet you will find no reference to food as sustenance in most food programming – Jamie’s campaigns and the odd cooking on a budget series excepted. Nope, it is all about ‘food porn’ and the aspiration, apparently, to own a Dualit toaster, and cook on an Aga. To find out the reality of food in modern Britain, you would do much better to listen to the odd snippet on the news.

So, when kids fall asleep by mid-morning, when that charming euphemism of malnutrition, “food poverty”, is on the rise, the foodie celebs are next to useless. It hasn’t always been this way – there have been great chefs, great showmen, who actually affected ordinary lives for the better.

Step forward Alexis Benoist Soyer – cook to princes, dukes and assorted mid-Victorian useless mouths at the Reform club, the kitchens of which he also designed, introducing refrigeration, adjustable heat stoves, and cooking with gas.


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