Feminist Review

, Volume 114, Issue 1, pp 72–90 | Cite as

what’s cooking, man? masculinity in European cooking shows after The Naked Chef

  • Jonatan Leer


The cooking show The Naked Chef (1999, 2000, 2001) with Jamie Oliver has often been highlighted as an example of the cooking show genre’s potential for reformulating masculine identity through cooking. Through a series of close readings of a selection of cooking shows from France, the UK and Denmark post-The Naked Chef and through a dialogue with other works on the subject, this article will attempt to identify the tendencies in the constructions and negotiations of masculinity in the cooking show genre following The Naked Chef and to understand these in relation to a revision of masculine identity in contemporary culture. The article is informed by poststructural gender theory and understands ‘doing food’ and ‘doing masculinity’ as two mutually constituting practices. The analyses identify four new tendencies in the construction of masculinity in cooking shows at the beginning of the twenty-first century: 1) rechefisation, 2) the TV chef as a moral entrepreneur, 3) the TV chef and the revitalisation of the national myth and 4) cooking as masculine escapism. The article concludes that the innovation of the masculine identity that was launched in The Naked Chef has not continued; rather, the genre has become a platform for the revitalisation of traditional masculinity discourses.


masculinity cooking food television Jamie Oliver 


  1. Aarseth, H. and Olsen, B.M., 2008. Food and masculinity in dual-career couples. Journal of Gender Studies, 17(4), pp. 277–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abend, L., 2012. Locavore hero. Time Magazine, 26 March, pp. 6–12.Google Scholar
  3. Attwood, F., 2005. Inside out: men on the home front. Journal of Consumer Culture, 5(1), pp. 87–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beynon, J., 2002. Masculinities and Culture. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Béliard, A.S. and Quemener, N., 2012. L’ « exotisme de la proximité » : l’amour à l’épreuve du monde agricole et du couple. Le Temps des Médias, 2(1), pp. 116–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bourdieu, P., 1979. La Distinction. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit.Google Scholar
  7. Brownlie, D. and Hewer, P., 2006. Prime beef cuts: culinary images for thinking men. Consumption, Markets & Culture, 10(3), pp. 229–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carême, M.A., 2012. Le Maître d’Hôte Francais. Paris: Hachette.Google Scholar
  9. Chao, P.S., 1998. TV cook shows: gendered cooking. Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 14(1), pp. 19–27.Google Scholar
  10. Christensen, D. and Povlsen, K.K., 2008. Mad, terroir og tv. MedieKultur, 24(45), pp. 51–64.Google Scholar
  11. Connell, R., 1995. Masculinities. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  12. Coveney, J., Begley, A. and Gallegos, D., 2012. ‘Savoir fare’: are cooking skills a new morality? Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 52(3), p. 617.Google Scholar
  13. DeSollier, I., 2005. TV dinners: culinary television, education and distinction. Continuum, 19(4), pp. 465–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Deutsch, J., 2005. Please pass the chicken tits: rethinking men and cooking at an urban fire house. Food and Foodways, 13(1/2), pp. 91–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. DeVault, M., 1991. Feeding the Family. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  16. Escoffier, A., 2013. A Guide to Modern Cookery. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Far Flung Floyd, 1993. TV, BBC.Google Scholar
  18. Feasey, R., 2008. Masculinity and Popular Television. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fischler, C., 1988. Food, self and identity. Social Science Information, 27(2), pp. 275–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fischler, C., 1989. L’Homnivore. Paris: Odile Jacob.Google Scholar
  21. Floyd on Italy, 1994. TV, BBC.Google Scholar
  22. Giddens, A., 1991. Modernity and Self-Identity. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Gill, R., 2003. Power and the production of subjects: a geneology of the new man and the new lad. In B. Benwell, ed. Masculinity and Men’s Lifestyle Magazines. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 34–57.Google Scholar
  24. Hamad, H., 2010. ‘Hollywood’s hot dads’: tabloid, reality and scandal discourses of celebrity post-feminist fatherhood. Celebrity Studies, 1(2), pp. 151–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hell’s Kitchen, 2004. Series 1. TV, ITV.Google Scholar
  26. Hollows, J, 2003. Oliver’s twist: leisure, labour and domestic masculinity in The Naked Chef. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 6(2), pp. 229–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hollows, J., 2016. The worst mum in Britain. In J. Leer and K.P. Povlsen, eds. Food and Media: Practices, Distinctions and Heterotopias. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 78–94.Google Scholar
  28. Hollows, J. and Jones, S., 2010. ‘At least he’s doing something’: moral entrepreneurship and individual responsibility in Jamie’s Ministry of Food. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 13(3), pp. 307–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. hooks, b., 1992. Black Looks. Boston: South End Press.Google Scholar
  30. Jackson, P., Stevenson, N. and Brooks, K., 2001. Making Sense of Men’s Magazines. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  31. Jamie’s Ministry of Food, 2008. TV, Channel 4.Google Scholar
  32. Jamie’s School Dinners, 2004. TV, Channel 4.Google Scholar
  33. Johnston, J. and Baumann, S., 2010. Foodies. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. Keller, J., 1997. Masculinity and marginality in Rob Roy and Braveheart. Journal of Popular Film and Television, 24(4), pp. 146–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kimmel, M., 1996. Manhood in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Kimmel, M., 2013. Angry White Men. New York: Nation Books.Google Scholar
  37. L’Amour Est Dans Le Pré, 2006. TV, M6.Google Scholar
  38. Le Chef en France, 2012–2013. TV, M6 and 6ter.Google Scholar
  39. Leer, J., 2013. Madlavning som maskulin eskapisme: Maskulin identitet i The Naked Chef og Spise med Price. Norma: International Journal of Masculinity Studies, 8(1), pp. 43–57.Google Scholar
  40. Leer, J., 2014a. Ma(d)skulinitet: Maskulinitetskonstruktion i Europæiske Madprogrammer Efter The Naked Chef i lyset af ‘den Maskuline Krise’. København: Københavns Universitet.Google Scholar
  41. Leer, J., 2014b. Jamie Oliver i den gode smags tjeneste: gastrogouvernementalitet og restaurativ nostalgi i Jamie’s Ministry of Food. Standart, 27(4), pp. 54–57.Google Scholar
  42. Leer, J., 2016a. Homosocial heterotopias and masculine escapism in cooking shows. In J. Leer and K.P. Povlsen, eds. Food and Media: Practices, Distinctions and Heterotopias. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 110–126.Google Scholar
  43. Leer, J., 2016b. ‘If you want to, you can do it!’: home cooking and masculinity makeover in Le Chef Contre-Attaque. In M. Szabo and S. Koch., eds. Food, Masculinities and Home. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.Google Scholar
  44. Leer, J. and Kjær, K.M., 2015. Strange culinary encounters. Food, Culture and Society, 18(2), pp. 309–327.Google Scholar
  45. Leer, J. and Povlsen, K.P., eds., 2016. Food and Media: Practices, Distinctions and Heterotopias. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  46. Lupton, D., 1996. Food, the Body and the Self. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  47. McRobbie, A., 2004. Post-feminism and popular culture. Feminist Media Studies, 4(3), pp. 255–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McRobbie, A., 2009. The Aftermath of Feminism. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  49. Milestone, K. and Meyer, A., 2012. Gender and Popular Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  50. Moseley, R., 2001. Real lads do cook... but some things are still hard to talk about: the gendering 8–9. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 4(1), pp. 32–40.Google Scholar
  51. Moseley, R., 2009. Marguerite Patten, television cookery and postwar British femininity. In S. Gillis and J. Hollows, eds. Feminism, Domesticity and Popular Culture. London: Routledge, pp. 17–31.Google Scholar
  52. Müller, A.R. and Leer, J., 2015. Det ny nordiske køkken—kritiske perspektiver. Social Kritik, 27(4), pp. 4–5.Google Scholar
  53. Naccarato, P. and Lebesco, K., 2012. Culinary Capital. New York: Berg.Google Scholar
  54. Nathanson, E., 2009. As easy as pie cooking shows, domestic efficiency, and postfeminist temporality. Television & New Media, 10(4), pp. 311–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Nilsson, G., 2012. Ball’s enough: manliness and legitimate violence in Hell’s Kitchen. Gender, Work, and Organization, 19(6), pp. 1–17.Google Scholar
  56. Nyvang, C., 2013. Danske kogebøger: 1900–1970. Fire Kostmologier. Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen.Google Scholar
  57. O’Brien, R., Hunt, K. and Hart, G., 2009. ‘The average Scottish man has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, lying there with a portion of chips’: prospects for change in Scottish men’s constructions of masculinity and their health-related beliefs and behaviours. Critical Public Health, 19(3/4), pp. 363–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Oliver, J., 2008. Jamie’s Ministry of Food. London: Michael Joseph.Google Scholar
  59. Parry, J., 2010. Gender and slaughter in popular gastronomy. Feminism & Psychology, 20(3), pp. 381–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Ramsay, G., 2006. Humble Pie. London: Harper Collins Publishers.Google Scholar
  61. Rousseau, S., 2012. Food Media. New York: Berg.Google Scholar
  62. Smag på Danmark, 2007. TV, DR1.Google Scholar
  63. Søndergaard, D.M., 2006 [1995]. Tegnet på Kroppen. København: Museum Tusculanum Press.Google Scholar
  64. Spies, V., 2010. Cuisine et télévision, une relation presque parfaite? Communication & Languages, 164, pp. 87–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Spise med Price, 2008–ongoing. TV, DR2 and DR1.Google Scholar
  66. Strange, N., 1999. Perform, educate, entertainment: ingredients of the cookery programme genre. In C. Geraghty and D. Lusted, eds. The Television Studies Book. London: Arnold, pp. 315–326.Google Scholar
  67. Swenson, R., 2009. Domestic divo? Televised treatments of masculinity, feminity and food. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 26(1), pp. 36–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Szabo, M., 2014. Men nurturing through food: challenging gender dichotomies around domestic cooking. Journal of Gender Studies, 23(1), pp. 18–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. The F Word, 2005–2009. TV, Channel 4.Google Scholar
  70. The Naked Chef, 1999–2001. TV, BBC2.Google Scholar
  71. Tyler, I., 2008. “Chav mum, chav scum”: class disgust in contemporary Britain. Feminist Media Studies, 8(1), pp. 17–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. White, M.P., 1990. White Heat. London: Mitchell Beazley.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Feminist Review Collective 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ArhusAarhusDenmark

Personalised recommendations