Taste and the TV Chef (Book)

How Storytelling Can Save the Planet

This book examines the evolution of food-centric TV; how it changed Britain’s relationship with food and created a global appetite for culinary content. Includes rare interviews with editors/producers who created some of the most influential stories television ever told. Discusses influence of Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Gordon Ramsay and others.


UK winner of the 2020 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in the Best Food Writing category

Chosen as one the best cookbooks of 2020 by delicious magazine


Food journalist, podcast producer and former academic Gilly Smith offers fresh insights into the creation of contemporary British food culture.  Her latest book explores the story of modern food culture with the creators of lifestyle and food TV and with the academics carving a new world in food and media studies. Taste and the TV Chef investigates how television changed the way Britain eats and sold it to the world.

While cooking shows are far from new, they have exploded in popularity in recent years and changed consumption patterns at a time when what we eat has an enormous impact on climate change.

What was once merely a genre is now a full-blown phenomenon: never before has food been so photographed, fawned over, fetishized and celebrated as various answers to saving the planet. Celebrity chefs and so-called ‘foodies’ have risen to new levels of fame, and the cultural capital of cooking has never been so valuable. 

Looks at the influence of chefs like Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsay and the role of TV storytelling in transforming how and what we consume. A ground-breaking contribution to food and media studies, which includes rare interviews with the producers who created some of the most influential stories television ever told, Taste and the TV Chef investigates how food and lifestyle TV changed the way an entire country ate, and then fed it to the rest of the world.

Main academic readership will be scholars, researchers and students in cultural studies, media studies.  Also practitioners and students in the fields of TV production and writing.

Will also appeal to anyone with an interest in the development of food TV and the rise of the TV chef.

Gilly Smith is a food journalist and former academic in journalism with over 30 years of experience in radio, TV, print and podcasting.



Part One
• Birth of the Cool
• The Manufacture of Delight
• The Making of Britishness
• The Game-changers

Part Two
• Creating a National Conversation
• Creating Capital
• Selling Britain to the World
• Dude Food and Fairy Cakes
• Storytelling and Race
• Storytelling and Class
• The Making of Jamie
• Barthes on Jamie: Myth and the TV Revolutionary
• The Odyssey Narrative
• The Making of Dreams
• Sugar Smart

Part Three
• Intangible Memories
• Sharing the Memories
• The Utopia of Food TV
• A Hungarian Food Revolution
• How to Build a Food Culture

Part Four
• Can Storytelling Save the World?
• Are We There Yet?

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