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Please Don't Try this at Home: Heston Blumenthal, Cookery TV and the Culinary Field

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Abstract:

The British chef Heston Blumenthal is at the forefront of a well-publicized shift within high-end restaurant cuisine towards avant-garde innovation and experimentation. At the same time, Blumenthal has increasingly pursued a parallel career as a television chef. This article considers how Blumenthal's TV shows rework the conventions of British cookery television through their foregrounding of cooking as an intellectual and aesthetic practice. It argues that this marks a break with the dominant form of TV cookery in the UK, in which cuisine is an achievable lifestyle practice, offering the promise of self-transformation and improvement. Using the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Stephen Mennell, the article discusses the ways in which such a televised demonstration of artistic integrity and autonomy has been used as a means to brand the celebrity chef as "a culinary alchemist" and to convert the symbolic profits accruing from culinary distinction into economic profits.

Keywords: CULINARY FIELD; FOOD; HESTON BLUMENTHAL; TASTE; TELEVISION COOKERY; TV CHEFS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175174410X12777254289349

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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