Gordon Ramsay, recently accused of fraud in the U.K., comes in for a more generalized form of the charge in a Slate article today. Though pegged as a review of the foul-mouthed chef’s latest cookbook, Gordon Ramsay’s Fast Food, the article vivisects the whole genre of aspirational quick-cooking books — their impossibility, their ludicrous requirements (whole quails, perfectly sliced onions, etc.), and, especially, the disingenuousness of celebrity-chef types like Ramsay pretending that they putter around in the kitchen cooking for their families.
Ramsay is especially vulnerable on this charge: In his latest memoir, he talks about the million-dollar TV kitchen he has on one floor of his house and the real kitchen where what food the family gets is made. “You won’t find me faffing [fiddling] about in the kitchen. At home, Tana cooks in the downstairs kitchen, or we get takeaway, or we grill something simple.” Writer Laura Shapiro understands, though, that these books aren’t cookbooks as much as fantasies; but she still calls out Ramsay, which seems to be an almost universal impulse.