In light of recent revelations that Gordon Ramsay shed tears when he learned he was losing Michelin stars at one of his New York restaurants, Michel Roux Jr has quit the BBC.
In a written statement, he said, “The BBC needs to recognise the value of the talent they work with, and also, that while we love to be associated with top quality television, we have other professional commitments that are as important to us as programme-making.”
I love watching programmes with Michel Roux Jr, as he comes across as intelligent, opinionated but not stuck in them, and he knows a soufflé as well as I know Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup. Alas, we’ll see less of him now he’s moving away from the BBC, but this is a bold move and he should be applauded for it.
The UK (and probably the rest of the world) has, I think, grown up over the last decade when it comes to food and drink. We are more fussy when it comes to wine, less fussy about the flavours we have adventures with, and we know an awful lot more about the process of putting food on the plate. It’s thanks to those ‘celebrity’ chefs that annoy us, captivate us, humour us and cajole us that we have become more knowledgable about farming methods, supply chain, distribution, Fairtrade and sustainability. I dare say that I have probably, by social osmosis, learned a few French and Italian phrases that will reveal themselves via a knock on the head.
Roux Jr has decided that the Bloomin’ BBC (as I have called them since last year) isn’t bigger than his career, and that the most important things in his life shouldn’t be diluted by what sounds like shoddy management.
Aside from other TV channels, of course, where will we stay abreast of foodie things once Gordon and Michel et al take their leave and leave us with, oh god, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall? Who will police those unscrupulous food manufacturers who fill their products with salt and sugar? Who will act as the face of the general consumer when it comes to best practise for farming hens, or the ethical sourcing of cocoa, or the supervision of confusing labels on questionable meat products?
My money’s on Nigella.