From cupcakes to coq au vin, calamari to caramelised tart – cooking has once again become a national obsession.
Programmes such as Celebrity Masterchef and The Great British Bake Off are leading the way, encouraging Joe and Joanna Public not only to stay in and eat at home (in front of the TV, naturally) but to purchase wonderful sounding ingredients – celeriac anyone? – and create something delicious in the kitchen.
And even with the inevitable disappointments – soufflés which never rise, over-cooked scallops and the fact that, actually, celeriac doesn’t really taste of anything – it seems we can’t get enough of it.
This month, according to BARB, an episode of Celebrity Masterchef attracted 4.54 million viewers and while audience figures are not yet available for this week’s ‘Bake Off,’ last year’s final drew 6.54m to their screens.
In a nutshell, food is big business, particularly for celebrities.
The runner up of this year’s BBC The Apprentice, Luisa Zissman came on to the show already the proud founder and owner of three cake-related businesses, which will no doubt have benefited greatly from the show’s publicity, while industry stalwarts such as Mary Berry have had their careers reinvigorated by programmes such as Bake Off.
Berry has been embraced by a new audience and her natural wit, and tendency for food innuendo has made her a social media magnet. A Twitter account dedicated to Mary Berry ‘biting into things’ appropriately called @MaryBerryBites has 6,165 followers at the time of writing!
Celebrities driving what we eat is not new of course – in previous years, we’ve had the rise of the celebrity chef, with unknown chefs chopping and sautéing their way to fame – but now celebrities are becoming chefs. Even ex- Atomic Kitten singer and Celebrity Masterchef winner 2008 Liz McClarnon has announced plans this summer to open a restaurant in London or Liverpool.
But as we continue to turn to our TV screens and celebrity-endorsed cook-books for emotional sustenance, we’re also fending for ourselves and honing valuable life skills, and you don’t get that from watching Eastenders.
So long live the food obsession – keep calm and keep cooking!