Three top food stylists - all of whom have ghost-written and cooked on behalf of the world’s top chefs - step out from behind the scenes.
More often than not, when it comes to food in the media, a lot of what you are seeing, and reading is the work - not of a top chef - but a food stylist. ‘Home economists’ as they are also known, do everything from cooking the dishes you see on screen, to ghost writing whole cookery books, with all kinds of weird and wonderful food tasks in between. They churn out hundreds of recipes without breaking a sweat, but get none of the credit, staying firmly in the shadows of the kitchen.
Until now. Move over Jamie and Gordon, it’s time to meet your supporting cast.
Emily Thomas talks to Rob Allison, Nicole Herft and Abi Fawcett. Between them they’ve worked for most of the world’s best known chefs including Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson and Heston Blumenthal.
(Photo: Chef garnishing soup with tweezers. Credit: Getty Images)
I Took on the Food Industry
A powerful colossus is controlling most of what we eat. Who has the guts to take it on?
Emily Thomas meets three people who have gone up against the food industry. From following trucks across Thailand to expose slavery in the fishing industry, to going undercover in Europe to reveal the hidden ingredients in processed food, to finding their phones have been infiltrated by spyware, these are people prepared to take risks.
They talk about what it feels like to have such a powerful opponent, why they’re prepared to go to such lengths, and how the consumer needs to be vigilant.
Our guests are Joanna Blythman, journalist and author, Alejandro Calvillo, director of El Poder del Consumidor, a consumer rights organisation in Mexico, and Margie Mason, investigative reporter for The Associated Press.
(Photo: Man carved out of orange peel. Credit: Getty Images)
I'm With the Chef
If you think you’d like your other half to be able to cook like a Michelin-starred chef, this episode might make you think again. When a professional cook is at the top of their game, there might just be someone at home, picking up the pieces of a brutal schedule.
Emily Thomas sits down with three people who are in long-term relationships with successful chefs and restaurateurs. They lift the lid on what it’s really like to live your life alongside someone in a profession notorious for being intensely stressful, competitive and sometimes a little wild.
Can top chefs be bothered to cook when they get home? And how do they respond to criticism in the kitchen?
Behind every head chef there’s a great woman or man, it seems. And this episode has three of them: PR executive Samantha Wong, partner of Hong Kong chef and restaurateur May Chow; sculptor Beth Cullen-Kerridge, who is married to Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge; and engineer Gundeep Gill who is married to Indian restaurateur Romy Gill MBE.
(Photo: A couple kiss behind a heart shaped balloon. Credit: Getty Images)
Aristocrats and Archaeo-Food Nerds
Have you ever felt the urge to share exactly the same culinary experience as your ancestors? Do you care what ancient Roman bread tasted like? Or what a 16th Century courtier smelt as he lifted a slice of roast beef to his mouth? Would you understand yourself, or today’s food system, better if you did?
And if the closest you come to experiencing the past is watching period dramas on television, are you bothered by whether the pigeon is actually chicken - or the fish, cream cheese? How real do we want the imaginary to be?
Emily Thomas asks what we can learn about the past and present from the painstaking reconstruction of old recipes. Four people who dedicate their lives to recreating historical dishes make their case: An archaeologist tirelessly trying to uncover the secrets of the bread of Pompeii in Italy; The food stylist on the film set of the globally popular period drama Downton Abbey; An historian earnestly roasting beef at a Tudor palace; and a Polish chef desperately trying to preserve traditions he fears are becoming lost.
(Photo: Woman in a baroque wig, Credit: Getty Images)
Not Just a Rich White Woman’s Problem
Emily Thomas explores a stereotype with potentially life-threatening consequences - the idea that eating disorders are a problem that only affects white women in wealthy countries. She talks to black women in South Africa, Nigeria and the US who have had eating disorders. Their experiences and their cultural backgrounds are very different, but they all say the prevailing stereotype that eating disorders are a ‘white’ problem, makes it harder for black women to speak out and get the help they need. They also challenge the notion that these illnesses are caused by the pursuit of western beauty ideals.
(Picture: Young woman. Credit: Getty Images)