Issues TM_CK_NIGELLA_FI_001

Good News: Nigella Lawson is back on TV. Her new show, a reality-style culinary competition called The Taste, debuted on Wednesday night on ABC and it was wonderful to see her again. The show itself may be a nearly unwatchable mishmash of hackneyed reality TV contrivances, but it’s worth tuning in just for Nigella’s screen time. In the debut episode, when she was profiled in a “meet the judges” segment, the first thing she said, unabashed, was “I love fat!”

Last week via her blog, Nigella informed her fans that when The Taste’s photo production types attempted to eliminate the round curve of her midsection from the show’s promotional images, the Domestic Goddess refused. “I was very strict and English and told them they weren’t allowed to airbrush my tummy out,” she wrote. MORE

Culinaria TM_CU_CELEB_FI_001

What sinister historical forces have converged to create the freakish likes of Sandra Lee, Emeril Lagasse, Gordon Ramsay, and Jamie Oliver? As with so much else in the history of dining, we can trace the rise of celebrity chefs to the early 1800s, when he was transformed from a humble artisan into a revered artist — the modern Prometheus.

Of course, there have always been great cooks throughout history, but they stayed out of the limelight, as anonymous tradesman in the sooty kitchen. Since the Middle Ages meals were, first and foremost, about extravagant presentation, and the most celebrated figure was the maître d’hôtel, or steward — the front man who designed all the special effects of a banquet. It was he who chose the dishes, oversaw the decoration of the table, arranged the entertainment and choreographed the guests. MORE