I’ve got a question for you; why as a society are we so enamoured with celebrity chefs? Why do we swoon over these mostly pretty people that (supposedly) know how to make really good food? By no means am I criticizing the fact that we do this, I do it too, but I just want to know why.
For centuries we relied on grandmothers and elders to pass down recipes and cooking techniques to the younger generations. This still happens, but definitely not to the same extent. I can remember sleeping over at my grandma’s house and waking up at 1AM to make sugar cookies, just for the heck of it (I also remember eating A LOT of raw cookie dough). What if you did not have these experiences but still are interested in learning how to cook? All you have to do is turn on the Food Network and voila, you’ve got show after show of recipes to try. Not to mention there are step-by-step instructions telling you exactly how to make everything.
Michael Pollan described it more eloquently in his book, “In Defense of Food”. His point was that for whatever reason, we have a need to rely on experts to tell us what to do. Listening to grandma is not good enough. We would rather get our information from someone who has gone to culinary school, learned the techniques from another expert and then cooked in restaurants for years, honing their skills. Because if they have done this, they must be legit. They MUST know what they are talking about. Little do people know that half of the faces on the Food Network have not worked in a professional kitchen a day in their lives.
I think our obsession with celebrity chefs also connects back to the fact that we tend to fixate on celebrities in general. Whether they are actors/actresses, sports stars or musicians, we love to idolize these people. Our kids look up to them. Heck most of our adults look up to them!
There is just something about theorizing about what our lives might be, could be, but in reality we know it is not going to happen so we try to live vicariously through famous people instead.
Or maybe the biggest component is simply that we like to watch attractive people make really sexy food. Ok Paula Deen may not be an exemplar of this but having just gone to a book signing with Chuck Hughes, I can say with certainty that this principle applies. Seriously, it was a bunch of middle aged women acting like giddy little school girls, ecstatic that they were getting their picture taken with the one and only Chuck Hughes. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good looking guy but when it came my turn to get my book signed, I actually wanted to have 30-60 seconds of intelligent, food-related conversation with him. But these attempts were bombarded by the women ahead of and behind me, all trying to get a word in edgewise.
So I don’t know, maybe we are fascinated with celebrity chefs because we actually want them to teach us how to cook. But in all likelihood I think it comes down to the fact that people just want to go on a date with them! Poor Chuck.
Chuck’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 20 cookies or 36-40 cookie bites
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips
coarse sea salt, as needed
1. Heat your oven to 350F. Line two cookies sheets with parchment paper or grease a mini muffin tin, depending on what size you would like to make the cookies.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar either with a mixer or by hand. Add in the eggs and vanilla, beating until smooth.
3. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and chocolate chips to the creamed butter/sugar mixture. At this point I switch to using my hands to get everything mixed without making too much of a mess.
4. If making regular sized cookies, portion them into golf ball sizes, 6-8 cookies per cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes. If you choose to go the mini muffin tin route, portion the dough into the tin using a mini icecream scoop. In this case, only bake them for 10-11 minutes or until golden.
5. Right when you remove the cookies from the oven, sprinkle them with salt. Cool and enjoy!