The British Culinary Invasion by Erica
"The Brits are coming, the Brits are coming!"
A cry being heard in cooking schools and broadcasting companies
alike. Unless you live at the North Pole, you've heard the ramblings
of a Naked Chef and a Domestic Goddess. If the States thought that
British Cultural influence ended with the music scene, they were
The invasion began quite a time ago. The doors swung
open with The Galloping Gourmet, only to be followed by Two Fat
Ladies. The latter paved the way for a young hipster called Jamie
Oliver to turn cooking upside down forever. While he has admittedly
been overexposed in the UK, the Americans can not get enough of the
adorable "Jamie". His television series on the Food Network have
been smash hits.
Jamie Oliver is a cross between the coolest
guy at school and a serious culinary genius. He has brought the art
of cookery to Generation X and their parents. He infuses charm, wit
and herbs to take viewers on a ride (literally), either on his moped
or in his hippie van. His cook books are flying off the shelves. He
makes bashing things with a pestle and mortar sport rather than
mundane. The recipes vary from dead easy to call for extra helpers.
The result is gorgeous food and a beautiful gesture to loved ones.
Rather than a call for take out, the meal is created with care,
purpose and even love for those we cherish.
In this love fest, Americans are learning words like
"pukka", "luvvly jubbly" and other benchmarks of culinary terms. He
has given the Emeril's and Bobby Flays something to worry about.
Jamie encourages children to get involved as well. He began cooking
in his parents restaurant kitchen as a lad. The Naked Chef
revolutionized televised cooking programs. The filming appeared
grainy, with wobbly camera angles, jolting music and a moving host.
Audiences transfered from the sofa to Jamie's hip central London
flat. The viewer is invited to christenings, band rehearsals, even
family dinners. The wall between celebrity and viewer is in many
ways absent from The Naked Chef and it's spin-offs. Jamie has become
a household name.
Where Jamie has opened this vast new world of the
celebrity chef who is really close to resembling the rest of us
rather than a picture perfect Martha Stewart, we also have the
Nigella Lawson began as a style guru of sorts.
How she made the transition from that to Goddess is the stuff of
legends. She speaks exquisitely and is always dressed beautifully
even when cooking. Nigella Bites hit the US in the last year and was
gobbled up by the same avid watchers as Naked Chef. Nigella also
garnered the posh audience that was disarmed by Oliver's folksy, no
fuss, personality. The Essex boy and posh goddess both generate
enormous ratings and revenue for broadcasters and publishers. What
is that myth, "The British have no Cuisine"? Tell that to the
millions of viewers and readers. Nigella and Jamie are bringing
British cuisine to America.
The invasion is not isolated to celebrity chefs with
glossy cookbooks. Dallas, Texas, home to the Cowboys, J.R. Ewing and
Modern Euro-British Cuisine? We Texans were blessed with Chef
Nick Barclay and his delicious interpretation of Modern
Euro-British cuisine. I think he actually primed the palettes and
paved the way for Nigella and Jamie Oliver. Barclay served the most
beautiful bubble and squeak on luxurious gold plates. Yes, bubble
and squeak to the high society of Dallas. All the movers and shakers
would dine at Barclays. Then, at the height of his success, Nick
Barclay packed up the family and went home to fulfill a dream. He
and his wife, Kelli, now own and operate Barclay House, a luxurious
hotel and restaurant in Looe, Cornwall. I am certain we will hear of
his impact even on the hotel industry as he has impacted Dallas
So where is the invasion headed next? There is a real
need for a balance. While Jamie Oliver's recipes are varied and use
a multitude of fresh herbs, vegetables, pastas and meats, the call
is for light, satisfying recipes that won't expand your waistline.
Nigella's contributions are sumptuous, guilty pleasures for the most
part. The trend in cooking seems to inevitably follow the quest for
the perfect body. Enter Chef Daniel Green.
Daniel Green's story is a rollercoaster ride
that seems fitting for a major motion picture or at the very least a
made for television movie. He lived the life that so many of us have
endured. He was overweight as a teenager and into adulthood. He
reached his low and set out to slim down. Daniel Green really
studied food and how to create meals for himself that were tasty and
low calorie, The days passed and as he explored with recipes and
lived a more active life, the pounds flew off. Daniel, transformed
from heavy weight to superfine. Naturally he became a model. Yes I
am serious. No, I am not making it up. Daniel strutted his stuff
with the best of them including Claudia Schiffer. His modeling,
although exciting, seemed to lack what he was looking for. Daniel
Green decided to leave modeling and became a full time chef. He
wanted to help others nourish their bodies with tasty recipes they
could feel good about. He worked a great deal in Asia and his
recipes reflect that time.
I first encountered his work in Self Magazine.
He has a recipe for chicken wrapped in lettuce leaves. I made this
for my husband and he was thrilled. I felt motivated to e-mail
Daniel Green and thank him. He was kind enough to answer my e-mail.
He is currently about to release a cookbook in the UK. Green will
also star in his own television show in the Autumn.
The British culinary invasion was recently spoofed on
Saturday Night Live. The Brits are coming, but they did not always
get it right. Case in point Ainsley Harriott. His American
show was painful viewing like a lamb to the slaughter. Not
everything translates and really, do Brits 'get' Ainsley? In many
ways the current invasion was prefaced by a British sitcom. The
series "Chef" was a huge hit in the UK and USA. Lenny Henry
painted British cuisine into the imaginations of us all. I really
wanted unpasteurized Stilton contraband after that one episode. The
"Chef" series got it right because now there are loads of the real
thing making waves in the UK, USA and beyond.