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Distinctions and boundaries: men’s talk about food celebrities

Nicklas Neuman (Uppsala Universitet, Uppsala, Sweden)
Lucas Gottzén (Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)
Christina Fjellström (Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 23 October 2018

Issue publication date: 1 May 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore how a group of men relate to food celebrities in the contemporary Swedish food-media landscape, especially celebrity chefs on TV.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 31 men in Sweden (22–88 years of age), with different backgrounds and with a variety of interest in food.

Findings

The paper demonstrates different ways in which the men relate to food celebrities. The men produce cultural distinctions of taste and symbolic boundaries, primarily related to gender and age, but also class. Through this, a specific position of “just right” emerged. This position is about aversion to excess, such as exaggerated gendered performances or pretentious forms of cooking. One individual plays a particularly central role in the stories: Actor and Celebrity Chef Per Morberg. He comes across as a complex cultural figure: a symbol of slobbish and tasteless cooking and a symbol of excess. At the same time, he is mentioned as the sole example of the exact opposite – as a celebrity chef who represents authenticity.

Practical implications

Scholars and policy makers must be careful of assuming culinary or social influence on consumers from food celebrities simply based on their media representations. As shown here and in similar studies, people relate to them and interpret their performances in a variety of ways.

Originality/value

This is one of the few studies that target the role of food celebrities in contemporary Western consumer culture from the point of view of the consumers rather than analyses of media representations.

Keywords

Citation

Neuman, N., Gottzén, L. and Fjellström, C. (2019), "Distinctions and boundaries: men’s talk about food celebrities", British Food Journal, Vol. 121 No. 2, pp. 520-532. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-05-2018-0295

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited