There’s a lot of food on the telly, and a lot of it in prime time. Shows regularly spawn chefs who become household names and their books range from coffee-table art to handy manuals. It seems safe to deduce that people like to cook. Even the timelessly entertaining Come Dine With Me would seem to prove this, although with varying degrees of success.
Last year, a study commissioned by an organic dairy firm sampling 2000 Brits, concluded that 58% of those polled preferred to cook than dine out and most spend an average of 49 minutes on 5 nights out of 7 in preparing an evening meal. 21% cook every night, which would include me with varying degrees of success as in CDWM above, about which I am often less entertained! There are lots of other interesting conclusions from the research (see here) but essentially it seems there are a lot of confident cooks nationwide who are willing to experiment with ingredients and to cook without a recipe.
Importantly, over 60% of those polled say they are influenced by TV chefs and inspired by their use of new ingredients and techniques. So, I am surprised that for example, of the 178 recipes turned up in a BBC Masterchef search there are only 10 vegetarian and only one of those could be called vegan, while the “disruptive force” that is Jamie Oliver (rated first in a poll to find the nation’s favourite TV chef) has 149 vegetarian recipes and 39 vegan on his site – I do make an allowance for this guy as he is on a laudable mission to shift people away from fast food feasting to healthy home cooking, and all for removing food and agriculture from the dreaded TTIP.
I realise there is an art to cooking fancy animal cuts and exotic sea creatures, although if memory serves me well more than half the experience is in the seasonings and accessory veg, so wouldn’t it be exciting to give professional and amateur chefs a meaningful challenge, take them right outside their comfort zone now and again and get them to dream up some vegan dishes? Do some vegan Bake-Offs? And show the TV-foodies in the UK what I already know from the local chefs who have pop-up restaurants in my locale that creating tasty, exciting and nutritious vegan meals is right on point.