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The Influence that Celebrity Chefs and Cooking Shows Have on Consumers

In modern media, there are numerous cooking shows on local and international TV channels which feature famous chefs displaying their kitchen mastery. The objectives of these shows differ significantly, and it is hard to judge the main theme of the shows given, unless the name of the sponsoring product or the name of the restaurant doing the promotion is available to the audience. Some of the shows are actually aired to entertain the audience like the reality show “˜Hell’s kitchen’. In this case the recipes are dictated by the manufacturers in the food and beverage industries or by some service industries, mostly the hospitality one. Some of the shows are meant for entertainment only, but can be misinterpreted and, thus, pass the wrong information (Kneafsey et al. 78). Some shows actually contain researched information which can be utilized to positively change the eating habits and cooking culture. A good example would be a chef demonstrating the benefits of steaming fish and detailing the advantages over deep frying.

To begin with, most of the shows demonstrate sophisticated recipes that usually include rare ingredients. The final meal is appealing to the audience who may seek to taste it, thus, prompting them to check on local cafeterias for a trial. This habit has seen many people adapting to eating in restaurants as opposed to home cooking. Food experts believe that as much as some restaurants observe the recommended diet and health specifications, cooking at home is healthier, since somebody has the overall authority to control the kind of diet that suits him or her. Eating at the restaurants influences the kind of food cooked in most homes, since the majority of people strives to meet the standard of the restaurant’s menu. Some of these celebrity chefs has made big names from their recipes and have been reported to have made lots of fortune by establishing restaurants under their names. A study carried in London by Gaynor established that celebrity chefs affect the consumers’ behavior by altering their initial choice of certain foods, but their shows had little effect on the culinary behavior. They affect their choice by endorsing certain ingredients and cooking methods and the consumers’ behavior is geared towards the testing of their methods.

Traditional menus are on the blink of extinction owing to the growing trend associated with the influence of celebrity cooking. Nutritious and healthy foods like tubers are rarely exhibited in these shows. This may cause the audience to abandon some healthier foods in preference of the modern recipes. Traditionally, children learn the art of cooking from their mothers, but with the onset of cooking shows and the working patterns of the modern women, there is little time to cook special culinary meals, and this has in the long run affected the cooking skills of modern youths. Most of these young people spend a lot of time glued to the television, thus, subjecting them to immerse media influence.

In the 1980s, for instance, cooking shows demonstrated and advocated the consumption of white meat as opposed to the more popular red meats. This led to increased poultry farming in the USA and other Western countries, and a research conducted by Berkley, the State University of California, concluded that at least 40% of households had shifted to the preference of white meat and fish consumption (Ashley et al. 172). This shows that the celebrity shows can in fact be utilized to advocate for healthy eating to reduce diet related complications like obesity. Most women watch the programs to enhance their cooking knowledge and suitable programs may add to their experience and update their traditional recipes with new trends.

The time children spend watching television has doubled over the last decade. Television commercials and cooking shows influence children by developing a strong desire for some recipes. This desire influences the kind of foods their parents cook for them and can escalate up to the school feeding systems. It is important to ensure that the nutritional contents of such foods meets recommended portions to avoid cases of malnutrition and obesity. Needless to say, the rise of obesity in the US has been contributed by the culture of buying cheap fast foods like crisps, potato chips, yoghurt, some variety of chocolates and ice-cream. It is known that young people enjoy eating sweet foods without any consideration of their dietary requirements or the implications that may arise with overconsumption of some poor quality foods. Celebrity shows sometimes focus on the promotion of some recipes that target the young generation with the mere intention of increasing the volume of sales and, therefore, compromising the quality of food.

The amounts of fat used in the shows also raises eyebrows due to the quality of the final meals. According to nutritional experts, most of the food demonstrated by the shows should not be taken more than twice in a week. The human nature demands nice things in their lives and food is not exempted from the list of good things. In case the poor quality (wrong nutritional proportions, for example) and yet delicious food finds roots in the household, chances are that the menu may be changed to accommodate the new recipe. In the long run, it may affect the individual’s or the family’s health (Liberman 219).

Relying on the celebrity chefs has been identified to have contributed positively to the eating habits of some individuals. Professionals share their expertise with the audience, thus, introducing new recipes. The new recipes at times contain vital health information that can be used to cook food for people with special diet requirements, such as diabetic people. This is achieved by integrating healthy education and cooking with the information on preparation of healthy, yet delicious food. The programs are enticing and enjoyable to watch and have been reported to have transformed some individuals to adore the kitchen duties, rather than eating readymade foods in retail outlets (Turner 118). These positive effects have been achieved because the actions on the television by the celebrity chefs look really simple compared to initial notions. In other words, they depict cooking as fun and not a rigorous duty as many perceive it. This has also changed the traditional setting of the female domination in the kitchen and has seen men take the kitchen duties, as well as going to the extent of hosting the shows.

For a long time, obesity has been a big challenge to the American population; it is also thought to contribute to various heart related diseases and deaths across the entire nation. Celebrity chef’s approach to this challenge has been met with criticism in the way they recommend certain diets, yet some of them end up being obese. It is ironical that the chefs depict themselves as the ultimate “˜food engineers’ with the solution to delicious, yet healthy meals. Thus, it can be argued that some of the recipes recommended by the shows actually have negative information. Commercial shows normally select very healthy presenters to pass the information to audience who have little knowledge (Scott 161). This can influence them in adapting to the recommendations done by their presentation in a way of altering their cuisine. The shows also include a variety of spices, as part of their ingredients, which influences the overall consumption of those. Nutritionists advocate for the use of natural and fresh spices, since if these requirements are not met, the spices may contain some toxic preservatives, which in the long term may cause harm to our bodies.

The celebrity chefs have very limited influence on the culinary culture. Most people do not put to practice what they see in the media, but rather prefer trying a desired recipe in established food outlets. Ferguson notes that the effects of the shows do not increase the purchase of ingredients in the local stores, but the turnovers of restaurants retailing a popular dish increase thanks to food shows. Some presenters like Delia Smith succeeded in influencing the local cuisine to the application of precise, yet detailed instructions of their menu. Delia was also successful in changing the culinary cultures in some households, owing to the fact that some of his recipes were endorsed by the well-known health experts. Such researched works can add immerse advantage to homes, as well as increase appetite of the families.

The shows at times are aimed at promoting the locally available foods and offer practical ways of achieving balanced diets from competently mixing them. When the shows introduce some rare ingredients, there is a general perception that the recipe is meant for a certain class of people, and such classifications can cause a dislike of the contents of the show. Celebrity chefs and cooking shows have also influenced the hospitality industry. Many young people are now enrolling to culinary studies thanks to the well structured shows. Sometimes, the celebrities visit schools and offer free classes and encourage students to develop interest in the hospitality industry. Previously, it was not the favorite field of students, but recently, the number of hospitality colleges has increased dramatically.

Celebrity chefs concentrate on convincing their audience that good health is achieved from eating quality proportions of food. Their explanation according to science fails to include other vital requirements of healthy living. For example, they rarely educate the public on the need of taking abundant water on daily basis. Scientists have established that 70% of the food we take should be water. Their explanations fail to include such vital information, as well as other heath practices, like exercises. This can possibly explain why some of the chefs suffer from diet related complications like diabetes and obesity (Rubin 116).

The celebrity chefs are authoritative figures in their respective nations and the books that they make eventually become best sellers. Their names are used by magazines and newspapers in publishing their recipes as well as their contributions to issues that are related to food. Even though the shows are widely watched, there is a new phenomenon in the developed world, which is the loss in cooking skills amongst the populations. Some celebrity chefs have messages that are based on worthy causes such as raising money for charity, educating people on importance of healthy eating, as well as helping to provide information on certain dietary related challenges and certain illnesses. An example is Jamie Oliver, who is a celebrity chef that has worked with the Ministry of Food Victoria in Australia after he learnt that obesity was a huge challenge to the people of Australia. To address the issue, he has initiated a program that will help to resolve the issue of obesity across the communities in the country (Lazaro 2012). He is among other chefs who have joined hands with the society to address various issues that affect people, especially those that are dietary based.

Celebrity chefs have also been used for commercial reasons. A lot of their programs raise a lot of money. For channels to make more sales, they introduce programs that are dietary based so as to bring diversity to their list of programs. The chefs are more interested in profits and not the message they are putting across. They will, thus, prepare meals that they feel are popular with the masses without any consideration to the effects on their health. This is very common in the consumer based economy, where the emphasis is put on profits.

It is important to indicate that despite the commercialization and high regards to profits by media, one of the tasks of the celebrity chefs is also to provide entertainment to their audiences. An example is a program such as “˜Hell’s Kitchen,’ which is a competition amongst various chefs who are amateurs, but till the end of the program they have been converted into professionals. The program does not focus on dietary education, but is more concentrated on provision of entertainment amongst the viewers, as the contestants outdo each other in a difficult environment. Thus, the show focuses more on providing entertainment to its viewers.

Eating can be a health hazard if abused. Just like drugs, it causes life threatening diseases and should be done appropriately. The culinary culture that consists mainly of traditional dishes should be considered prior to shifting to new cuisines in an effort to feel that we are up-to-date with the current cuisines. There should be right and clear information passed from the celebrity shows to masses in order to reduce the cases of negative media influence to the audience, who may think that the presentation follows professionalism and high standards of ethics, while in the real sense it is a commercial promotion.

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