The purpose of this paper is to investigate the exposure of a student population to celebrity chef television programmes, to assess the influence these figures have, and how they are perceived.
A survey was conducted through an online questionnaire distributed at Bath Spa University. The approach included asking respondents why they watched programmes featuring celebrity chefs; to select a named celebrity chef whom they thought had most influenced their food habits, and to name particular chefs relating to campaign descriptions.
A significant proportion of the study group watched television programmes fronted by celebrity chefs (84 per cent); the main reason for watching was for entertainment. Overall, reported influence was insignificant, though Jamie Oliver was selected as the chef with most influence on the respondent’s food habits. Jamie Oliver’s campaign to improve school dinners was also the most recognised, and celebrity chefs were generally viewed positively.
The study population was quite specific in its gender, age and ethnicity, and therefore might not be representative of wider society. Further work could consider gender differences in chef influence, as well as different forms of exposure.
Despite their ubiquity, academic research into the role of the celebrity chef in modern society is limited, where very few studies have assessed the influence of named chefs or the public perception of these figures. This paper gives an insight into this under-researched field.
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