Chef’s Table: Why are we so obsessed with food shows?
The main ingredient for any successful cookery program is flair. The reason our eyes are glued to the screens is not just gluttony, but the showmanship that comes with the job of being a TV chef.
Since the first cooking show was broadcasted on BBC TV in 1946, it’s been proven that simply following a recipe does not whet the audience’s appetite. We demand food programs for our entertainment; we want to see something new, something exciting. Even back then, Philip Harben – arguably the first celebrity TV chef – began demonstrating dishes that wartime Britain had been deprived of. In the first episode of Cookery Lesson, Harben showed the audience how to make lobster vol-au-vents.
Nowadays, a food show of a TV chef is not so humble and is often accompanied by a book release, YouTube videos of each recipe, and a furious press tour to promote the whole lot. We get sucked in because each program has its own flair, whether this is derived from the presenter (think Gordon Ramsay’s infamous temper) or the unique aspect of the show. Masterchef has classic competition down to a tee and since its broadcast in 1990, the show has expanded to over 200 territories globally. The Great British Baking Show contains quirky comforts and baking fails, while a new wave of high-end documentaries such as Chef’s Table have emerged across streaming platforms. There is something to cater to every taste – even those who want to watch Guy Fieri on repeat. No judgements here if you do.
The evolution of how we watch cookery programs has changed dramatically since the 40s and our consumption of the genre has never been more droolworthy thanks to the vast selection on streaming platforms. So pick something quick or your food will get cold!