Ruby Tandoh: why Tom Kerridge, Lorraine Pascale and other 'fatphobic' chefs need knocking off their perch

Anita Singh
Ruby Tandoh raged against 'fatphobic' celebrity chefs and 'superfood shills' - Andrew Crowley

Great British Bake Off runner-up Ruby Tandoh has accused celebrity chefs of jumping on the “superfood” bandwagon and churning out “cynical, diet industry pap”.

The amateur baker turned food writer denounced “fatphobic, cruel, self-serving ‘foodies’” and appeared particularly irked by Tom Kerridge, the Michelin-starred chef who claims to have lost 12 stone by following his own “Dopamine Diet”.

She claimed Jamie Oliver, Lorraine Pascale and The Hairy Bikers were guilty of “swinging from ‘comfort food’ to ‘superfood’ and back again whenever the price is right”.

And she was scathing about “wellness” bloggers, including Joe Wicks and the Hemsley Sisters, who have become stars in the social media firmament.

Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley have become media stars with their gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free recipes Credit: S Meddle/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

In a series of Twitter posts, Tandoh complained that eight of the 10 best-sellers in Amazon’s food and drink chart are “diet books”. They include Kerridge’s book, billed as a “low-carb, stay-happy way to lose weight”.

She dismissed The Dopamine Diet as "self-serving... disingenuous... total b------s" and said: "Cutting out carbs will not set you up for better brain health or happiness or mental wellbeing. Carbs are integral for serotonin production. I’m furious.”

Kerridge, BBC presenter and chef at the Hand and Flowers pub in Marlow, Bucks, weighed 30 stone before giving up alcohol and embarking on his diet.

It is based on cutting out starchy carbohydrates such as rice and potatoes, and substituting them with foods that produce high levels of dopamine - the “happiness hormone”. His recipes include shepherd’s pie with a creamy cauliflower topping in place of mash, and a pepperoni “pizza” with an omelette base.

Lorraine Pascale believes ditching wheat flour 'could be the future of eating' Credit: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Lorraine Pascale, who used to run a cupcake bakery and made her name cooking indulgent treats, branched into healthy recipes with books extolling the virtues of low-carb baking and the Sirtfood diet, based on the idea that foodstuffs such as dark chocolate and kale activate sirtuins, or the ‘skinny gene’.

She now believes that ditching wheat flour in favour of almond flour and coconut flour “could be the future of eating”.

Hairy Bikers Si King and Dave Myers reinvented themselves as the Hairy Dieters Credit: Heathcliff O'Malley

The Hairy Bikers released a book as The Hairy Dieters, promising to teach people “how to love food and lose weight”. And Jamie Oliver followed Jamie’s Comfort Food with Everyday Super Food, the latter providing calorie counts for each meal.

Tandoh has reason to peruse the best-seller list: she has brought out her own cookery book, Flavour, which promises “delicious, judgment-free food”.

Jamie Oliver followed his book Jamie's Comfort Food with Jamie's Everyday Super Food Credit: Simon Dawson

“I wrote a book all about the joy of food. I am on a mission to knock one of these superfood shills off their perch,” she said.

She is no fan of Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, the sisters whose gluten-, grain- and refined sugar-free recipes have proved a hit with the fashion crowd; or of Joe Wicks, the fitness coach who has no nutritional qualifications but has sold two million books espousing a “reduced-carbohydrate breakfast and lunch”.

Ruby Tandoh said Joe Wicks is "bish bash boshing himself to a multi million £££ turnover" Credit: Tabatha Fireman/Getty Images Europe

The Hemsleys have accepted that their food evangelism is not for everyone. Appearing at the BFI and Radio Times Festival earlier this month, they said: "People will say about us whatever they think... we're not going to be able to convince everyone. But those that we can: we're very happy and proud to have done that."

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