Weighing the image of celebrity chefs

September 13, 2011

Is it OK that some popular chefs seem bigger than life? Or should they shape up to encourage a nation’s healthier relationships with food?

Celebrity chefs use scales to weigh ingredients. But do they ever step on doctors' scales and consider what they represent to America's public if they aren't ideally fit themselves?

What messages are they sending to TV watchers who look to them for more than entertainment – who view them as food experts and are influenced by the dishes and desserts they highlight, the ingredients they use, and the way they relate to food? 

In short, The Lempert Report asks, is the stocky appearance of many popular chefs purposeful to convey an impression of enjoyment and fun with food? Is it to subtly align with viewers, get people to lower their defenses and take a food journey with them for 30 or 60 minutes at a time, and to tacitly suggest to millions that it’s OK to swell the BMI?

If that's the case, we feel it's wrong. Not everyone is Jamie Oliver who tries to improve the dietary prospects of others. We're not saying any of the other chefs should be. But celebrity chefs do have a far-reaching platform, and many people hold them in high esteem. The chefs need to respect this power they hold. Particularly with the nation’s obesity struggles, the chefs could shape up and use their own fit appearance to encourage people toward healthier relationships with food – something they really need, yet seem confused about how to develop.

Celebrity chefs don’t have to preach to play a more beneficial role in Americans’ lives. They only have to present a balance that families could relate to and hopefully achieve.