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In the 90s and early in the morning, a celebrity chef was someone who turned his kitchen skills (be it knife-making or just charm behind the counter) into food network shows, packed restaurants, bestselling cookbooks, merchandise, or a deal with someone you wanted -by the brand. Now they are someone who put their bestselling cookbook on a Netflix show or their YouTube show on a Hulu show or their popular YouTube show on spin-off YouTube shows or their blog on cookbooks or their Instagram popularity in transformed a TV show. or their Twitter gold mine into a Martha Stewart-like empire.
“The thing where people said chefs are rock stars is still true,” says Allen Salkin, author of Spicy Tell-All From scratch: Within the Food Network.
But just like you never had to be the best musician to top the music charts, you never had to be the best cook to be a celebrity chef. It was always more about personality than how well you can cook. Or how well you can interview other chefs or travel the world to eat exotic foods with other famous people.
That was the case in the 1960s when Julia Child demystified French cuisine. That was true when Emeril called “Bam” for the first time in the 90s. That was true when Guy Fieri started putting camera teams in the Aughts on greasy spoons. And it’s still true when Alison Roman answers questions about The Stew, whose face is masked by Instagram’s puppy ear filter. Or when David Chang travels to Morocco with Chrissy Teigen for a Netflix show and asks himself: “How the hell did she almost get from the SI swimsuit model to the modern Martha Stewart? It’s like crazy. “(Batter was called one of timeThe 100 Most Influential People of 2019 Named Pioneer in Food by Celebrity Chef Eric Ripert.)
“Even the word cook is complicated – some people define it as anyone with a culinary degree, others say you have to run a restaurant kitchen, others say you need both,” says Emma Laperruque, food editor at Food52, an influential food site. Nevertheless, there were home cooks who made the transition to the “celebrity chef”.
“Nowadays it can go in the opposite direction: a celebrity that turns into a culinary influence,” she adds.
Julia Child was not the only cook on public television, but she is certainly the best known. 1967, four years later The French cook Joyce Chen taught Americans how to make crepes and how to cook a goose. With the same set, she taught fine Chinese cuisine. But Joyce Chen cooks fizzled out after a season because it couldn’t get a sponsor. Chen, the first colored woman in a national cooking program, had to work with a vocal coach to soften her strong accent. Looking back at the short life of her show, media scholars and food historians find that she didn’t have the same “charisma” as Child and that xenophobia may have played a role. (Kind and Chen were friendly, and Kind often ate at Chen’s Cambridge restaurant.)
PBS has been a major source of television cooking for Americans for decades. But PBS’s business was very different from later iterations of TV chefs. PBS offered cooking programs as a public service. The Food Network, launched in 1993, was founded to make money and sell celebrities.
The Food Network made its debut just a few months before Martha Stewart turned her magazine. Martha Stewart Livinginto a syndicated TV show. More and more Americans were spending money on decorating and improving homes. The American economy was booming and people had extra money. Stewart may be more of a lifestyle guru, but she has also been known as a celebrity chef over the years. She recently had a renaissance, partly because of her collaboration with Snoop Dogg on a VH1 cooking show, a friendship for the Internet.
In the beginning there wasn’t even a working oven on the Food Network set. For once, someone was wrong behind the scenes; Instead of hurting the network, the flood of complaints proved to advertisers that people were watching. Entire seasons were filmed in a week. Emeril Lagasse, whose photo might appear next to the dictionary definition of “celebrity chef” in 2000, came up with his catchphrase “Bam” to wake up a tired crew.
As the Food Network grew, there was controversy in the kitchen. Food Network hosted TV chefs. Not real cooks. The same lines in the sand were drawn decades later when the chefs started showing their chops online. Those are YouTube cooks. Those are Instagram cooks. Not real cooks. And yet an Instagram chef or a YouTube chef can be more famous than someone who owns a successful restaurant.
“There is disagreement with people about who is a celebrity chef and who is a food influencer. It’s so blah blah blah blah blah.”
“There is disagreement with people about who is a celebrity chef and who is a food influencer. It’s so blah blah blah blah blah,” says Guy Fieri, a food network prodigy. “Anyway. I don’t even think of anything like that.”
“If you do something good in the industry, something good for people, you know – who trains people, entertains people, helps people, everything in food … These are my criteria, ”says Fieri, who should be considered a celebrity chef.
Salkin regards Fieri as the last local star of the Food Network. The next big turn from the network was Ree Drummond, a housekeeper who built her own fandom through her blog The Pioneer Woman. In 2011 she switched from influencer to food network star with even greater influence.
“After we created a nation of people who knew what kale and shallots are, [the Food Network] did a business calculation that over time they could goof around and have a few thousand more viewers, “says Salkin. At the same time, Bravo and other cable networks also hosted food shows, especially competitions. Then in 2015, content with higher eyebrows might come Chef’s table from Netflix along with “the broad, Instagram and YouTube chefs,” he says.
In 2006, a year earlier Emeril Live was cut due to falling ratings, Fieri won The Next Food Network Star. The show, which later stripped “the next” from its title, ran until 2018. At that point, YouTube was already called Fieri and was still the most famous winner of the show. He did not become popular because of his own kitchen, but because he put guests, drive-ins and dives in the spotlight in his show of the same name. And for the fact that he leans heavily on the Internet (he has a team that comes up with the memes, which he then leads from his sons).
Other celebrity chefs have tried to switch to the Internet with varying degrees of success. Ina Garten is popular on Instagram. Her catchphrase “loading is fine” goes well with home cooks who are looking for recipe ideas. (The same applies to their willingness to prepare a huge quarantine cocktail.) Tom Colicchio from Top chef also improved his Instagram game during the Coronavirus pandemic. Since his New York restaurants are closed, he shows his sourdough casseroles. Garten has 2.6 million Instagram followers on Colicchio’s 246,000.
In between sits Alison Roman with 560,000 Instagram followers. Roman’s recipes have become proper names (The Cookies, The Stew, The Pasta) and she has been called the “face of home cooking” and “prom queen of quarantine”. She even referred to “Buy is fine” in an Instagram caption earlier.
The Nothing special The author is casual and unfiltered. It fits the millennial ideal of stuffing a few people into a small apartment, all drinking from a cluster of glasses and eating anchovies, but anchovies in effortlessly cool and delicious dishes. She puts on filters to answer cooking questions in her Instagram stories. It’s adorable, although she says it’s out of embarrassment rather than trying to be cute.
“I don’t wear makeup, or as if I just walked or didn’t get dressed or showered, and I’m like ‘I look like shit’, but when I put a filter on, I look OK,” she says. “It’s like an obvious way to say that I don’t care what I look like. Not enough to style myself for a video on Instagram, but enough to put on dog ears that smooth my rosacea.”
But she said – whatever – to keep the mood going, got her in trouble. She sent shock waves through the Twittersphere when she sold out. Teigen answered with one sad tweet She noticed that she had been making Roman recipes for years.
Star chefs who criticize each other, either as “sold out” or as bad chefs, have a time-honored tradition. But the masses didn’t apologize when Lagasse dove into Rachael Ray. Or when Stewart did the same. Or when Anthony Bourdain roasted Fieri. None of these barbs had an overall negative impact on a person’s fame. What distinguishes Roman’s gaffe? While we have an apology culture and an abandonment culture, we also have an increased awareness of privileges, how successful women should treat other women, and the power of the internet. Roman, a white woman, criticized a colored woman for how she used her fame. She despised another woman to differentiate herself. In this dynamic, however, dough has the real power. She is sitting at the cool table in our social media cafeteria. Roman recently sold a TV show (production was stopped due to corona virus) and Teigen planned to produce executive productions. Like Martha Stewart, Teigen is a lifestyle guru who is considered a celebrity chef in some circles. After all, she uses her kitchen to advance her fame.
Unlike these other celebrities, there was an apology this time. And an audience In turn, olive branch.
“It was stupid, careless and insensitive. I have to learn and respect the difference between unfiltered and honest and uneducated and funky,” Roman wrote on Twitter and Instagram, tying him to her own uncertainty.
Before brouhaha when asked what made someone a celebrity chef in 2020 who New York Times Columnist and restaurant-trained chef said it depends.
“When you ask the cool kids on Twitter who they think is important and cool, it’s different than my mother,” said Roman. For what it’s worth, she said she makes recipes for both the cool kids and the mothers.
“I would be better known as a total for good work than for a recipe that is very successful,” said Roman. “This is more important to me than saying, ‘Oh, did you make this girl’s cookies?'”
“It is not my main goal to score hit by hit. It feels exhausting. And I will fail if that was my goal.”
When she writes a new recipe for her column, she thinks about how to do something delicious that everyone can do.
“It’s funny because a lot of people, especially im New York TimesPeople love to comment like, “Well, I do it like this” and like, “I do it like this.” And I think, yes, I know you can do it in many ways, but I’m trying to write a recipe that is as comprehensive as possible, “said Roman.
Accessibility has been part of a busy nation’s preparation of 30-minute meals since Rachael Ray nearly 20 years ago. The difference now is that we don’t spend 30 minutes watching how we do something. We scroll through Instagram at lightning speed. Or we double check and scroll on our phones while watching Netflix or YouTube.
Some Aughts star chefs have tried to use the power of YouTube. Both Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver have YouTube channels, although Ramsay has 14 million subscribers, more than Oliver’s 5 million. Last year, Ramsay was nominated for a YouTube Streamy Award for Food, but didn’t win. Instead, the honor went to Andrew Rea, the home cook behind it Binging with babish, a YouTube show with almost 7 million subscribers that replicates food from television and films. Binging had a big break in November 2016 when Rea turned off the “wetmaker” sandwich Friends. Since then he has made the Krabby Patty Supreme out of it SpongeBob SquarePants and direwolf bread game of Thrones with star Maisie Williams. He has spun his success into another cooking channel called Basics with Babishwhere he teaches viewers how to make hummus and leaven, and a lifestyle show called Be with Babish where he plays Oprah and gives gifts to deserving fans.
“Anyone with a camera and an internet connection can now create content. I’m not saying it’s all good,” Rea says. “But there is so much of it out there, and there is so much of it that is really good and real [well] produced really well thought out, really easy to handle and really entertaining shows on YouTube that nobody sees because they either weren’t really marketing themselves or weren’t as lucky as I was, “says Rea.
“I never try to fall into the trap that I’m special,” added Rea, who wouldn’t call himself a celebrity chef. They’re “your Gordon Ramsays, your Alton Browns,” he says. However, it is a requirement for internet celebrities not to call themselves a celebrity. Like Roman, it has to be approachable and ambitious.
“There are so many levels that you could call a celebrity chef,” added Rea. “When does the line start? When you have 100,000 subscribers, when you have 250,000 subscribers? For example, when do you become a celebrity chef?”
Claire Saffitz, the Good Appetite Koch, whose catchiness almost competes with Fieri, never wants to be called a celebrity chef. Saffitz moderates the magazine’s YouTube show Gourmet does where she created junk food from scratch. People refer to the frustration that comes up when they try to make gourmet doritos or peeps.
Your videos are viewed between 5 and 10 million times across the board.
“Absolutely not. I’m scared. I think if I ever get to the point where I’m expecting recognition, I’m a sociopath,” she said to Vidcon Mashable last year when asked if she considered herself a celebrity.
Rea, who didn’t go to cooking school, was recently in one Good Appetite Challenge. A professional chef guides him through the process of making a Jean-Georges egg – fluffy scrambled eggs that are filled in an egg shell and filled with whipped cream and caviar, but use ostrich eggs and salmon roe – while standing back to back. Jean-Georges Vongerichten has a restaurant empire, but he never made it big on television. He had a short-lived PBS food travel series with his wife, but he’s better known to foodies than the “cool kids on Twitter,” as Roman would say.
“I was really flattered that they chose a technically difficult recipe for me,” says Rea. “I thought, OK, you have the confidence that I can assert myself.”
Rea looks at Saffitz and others Good Appetite Stars celebrity chefs. “They are people who walk down the street and are recognized,” he says. “They are super stars.”
Maybe Rea isn’t that recognizable because he doesn’t show his face on his cooking shows. You can see his torso covered with a black apron, his hands and his arm tattoos. His soothing voice comforted you. The colors are popping.
“I shoot it. I edit it. I do the voice-over. I write the instructions, the little jokes. So good and bad, stupid and clever, ugly and pretty. The show is me. It’s an extension of me.” he said (adding that he is outsourcing part of the multi-camera footage assembly for his spin-off cooking show Basics with Babish).
Its appearance – the minimalism, the high contrast – is also evident in the food content on Instagram. And on Netflix.
Netflix slides in
Netflix made Samin Nosrat’s bestselling cookbook Salt fat acid heat, who aimed to give home cooks the confidence to use their own instinct, in a show. With its colorful close-ups of food, the show would fit right on Instagram. It is partly a documentary film show, partly a cookery show, partly a travel show, a formula that has been used before, but is particularly inviting when Nosrat’s exuberant laugh acts as a secret sauce. There are also only four episodes. Netflix has no problem resisting TV traditions regarding the length of the series, and the show is better for it. Nosrat makes you want more.
Sometimes Nosrat screwed up, who was named a food pioneer alongside batter on the Time 100 list last year, and it still does the cut. She sees it as a teaching tool. Julia Child did the same. Rea too. In the “Salt” episode, where she visits Japan, she talks about how imperfections in a dish make it human.
David Chang shows a similar attitude in his own Netflix shows. The restaurateur behind Momofuku can lure a lot of hungry hipsters into a hole in the wall with a single tweet. In both shows, Chang talks about his changed perspective on food and internet fame. He has reached a point where he is “OK to make really ugly food”. And he’s still struggling to have his “life out there on social media”. Chang recently used his platform to spotlight the difficult restaurant industry amid the coronavirus pandemic. He has also closed some of his own shops. Fieri has also raised money for unemployed restaurant workers.
In the first episode of Breakfast Lunch Dinner, Chang smokes grass with Seth Rogen as they eat their way through Vancouver. In another, he rides camels in Morocco with dough, which was her first cookbook. Cravings, into an online platform. Like many celebrity chefs, it is a merch machine. Breakfast Lunch Dinner is also only four episodes. The first season of Ugly tasty, what shows how Chang travels around and unpacks the development of various foods like pizza and fried chicken is eight. The second, which debuted in March, is half as long and starts with Chang talking about becoming a father. It’s more about his personal journey than food.
Famous cook who speaks to celebrities while eating is not new. Anthony Bourdain has perfected it. Netflix is doing it with a new, nervous celebrity chef. The same idea will likely be recycled in a decade, regardless of what the next Netflix with the next chang will be.
“Everyone wants to be Anthony Bourdain,” says Salkin. “They want to travel around the world and tell dark, thoughtful stories about the power of eating. Every damned person thinks he can be the new Anthony Bourdain.”
Everyone wants to be the next Guy Fieri. They want to travel around, eat greasy food, and talk to Salt-Earth-Cooks. The burger show, a YouTube show that became the Hulu series, shows chef Alvin Cailan, who is known for his Eggslut restaurant and eats burgers in various restaurants with celebrities such as Padma Lakshmi, Lana Condor and H. Jon Benjamin.
“To sell a television program, you need something new unless you are already someone,” says Salkin.
Do it last
Internet celebrities, even Netflix celebrities, can be volatile. And being a famous cook doesn’t open as many doors as before. Winning a food competition show doesn’t guarantee you your own spin-off. For example, many food competition winners cannot get their restaurants to stay. They also compete with a number of home cooks for Internet attention.
No matter what you call today’s celebrity chefs – food celebrities, culinary influencers, YouTubers, Instagram personalities – they all have to compete with our ever shorter attention spans for their stars to shine brightly. However, the concept of a celebrity chef does not disappear, even if the definition has loosened over time.
“As always, we will create our own celebrities that match the times,” says Salkin. “Just wait, the next celebrity will use the nickname,” he pauses for the drama “The Sourdough Stud”.
Nicole Gallucci contributed to this report.