Dubai - She was running her own cookery school before Jamie Oliver was born.
So woe betide anyone who tries to impress Prue Leith with celebrity status or overly fancy food.
The 74-year-old judge of Great British Menu has accused molecular gastronomy chefs of showing off, and complained that celebrity culture means many people are watching cookery shows “while stuffing their faces with pizza”.
At the Festival of Literature in Dubai over the weekend, Miss Leith said: “The trouble with all these fashions is that every second chef who is half good thinks they can do it too.
“You get too many flavours because something has been dehydrated and pulverised until it is a sort of sand or powder, or something has been dropped into a calcium bath to make it into little balls like caviar by the time they have done all that, where is the flavour?”
Miss Leith also railed against “ridiculous” celebrity culture.
Pupils in school and catering colleges like TV cooks because they are famous, rather than because they can cook, she said, adding: “It is the wrong thing for children to aspire to.
“It is heartbreaking that we see these chefs doing beautiful things with wonderful ingredients while they are sitting on sofas stuffing their faces with pizza, Pot Noodles and chocolate bars.”
Miss Leith said she was a fan of Heston Blumenthal, however, describing him as an “absolute genius”.
She has just finished recording the ninth series of Great British Menu, which will be screened on the BBC this year.
South Africa-born Miss Leith ran Leiths School of Food and Wine for nearly two decades. Until 2010, she was head of the School Food Trust, a government quango set up to make school dinners healthier.
She said Jamie Oliver had been “terrific” at bringing the longstanding issue of school food to wider public attention.
- Daily Mail