Jon Favreau premieres his much-hyped (and remarkably quickly made) Chef this weekend at SXSW, and in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he revealed an understanding of the tension in celebrity chef culture that proved he was the perfect director to make this film.
In a piece for The Guardian, Lucy Cavendish and William Skidelsky launched into a debate over whether today’s TV chefs need to be sex symbols in order to succeed, citing, as their primary example, Paul Hollywood. For those of you unfamiliar with the food TV scene across the pond, Hollywood is the piercingly blue-eyed, salt-and-pepper-haired host of The Great British Bake Off, whom the piece describes as “handsome, well-groomed, authoritative and yet somehow reassuringly manly.” Maybe it’s just the name, but he sounds an awful lot like a certain flame-shirted “bad boy” we have Stateside. But more on that later.
The piece also references Heston Blumenthal’s “smouldering geekiness,” which leads us to believe that an anthropological study is required to analyze traits Brits think are sexy versus traits Americans think are sexy, because some fundamental difference in culture and upbringing is the only way we can think of explaining how Heston and Paul are the key references for a sexy chefs dialogue.
Here are five TV chefs Stateside, who we think best represent the thesis that sex appeal is key to a successful reality TV empire.