Turning the tables

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 March, 2012, 12:00am


Calling someone a 'bitch' doesn't sound much like the behaviour of the blessed St Jamie of Oliver.

But he has often been one to talk first and think later, and must have been a little upset when an Australian journalist called him out on his recent weight gain.

Oliver later offered the weak defence, 'I went out last night and had a few drinks after a very long day, [and] my brain did not quite understand that question.'

Australian celebrity chef Curtis Stone has since weighed into the controversy by suggesting that Oliver is a hypocrite for not practising what he preaches.

New York's Daily News commented that 'Jamie Oliver wants to call attention to the world's battle of the bulge. Just not his own'.

While the television chef/politician manque can be labelled a hypocrite for lecturing others on their dietary habits while piling on a few extra ounces himself, he's certainly no tub of lard.

A few extra pounds can work wonders with viewers. Nigella Lawson's legion of fans would hardly be so adoring if she was rail thin. Instead, she looks like a real person and someone who likes food.

Stone says: 'We've all had different relationships with food - some great, some not so great. But when you've got a place in the television world of responsibility, you've got to follow through.'

The idea of a television chef being in a position of responsibility is probably the most laughable of the comments that have sprung up around this spat. The suggestion that we, the viewing public, will unthinkingly follow the lead of a person in the public eye, whether it's given consciously through a message - such as Oliver's urgings to eat in a way he considers more healthy - or unconsciously through following his swelling waistline, is rather patronising.

I'm a fan of Oliver's cooking - recipes of his that I've tried tend to be simple yet reliable, even if they can cost a small fortune in extra virgin olive oil. The idea that because of this I might start sliding down bannisters or driving a Volkswagen Camper and calling everyone 'mate' is ludicrous.

I would like nothing better than fat, bearded, middle aged men becoming iconic figures who could sway the world to their way of thinking through simply appearing in the media, but I wonder how many fans of The Hairy Bikers own motorcycles. We're just not that malleable.