It’s become clear in recent years that professional chefs are some of the worst people on Earth. Yes, even worse than Rupert Murdoch, Piers Morgan and Louise Mensch. Yeah, I know.
These people – frequently to be found berating a hapless reality TV gimp over an incorrectly-pollarded artichoke – are some of the most inconsequential people will ever live, yet they behave as if they are somewhere between brain surgeon and bin-man on the axis of ‘really clever’ and ‘shitness of everyday life without them’. This is what would happen if there were no more self-important chefs in the world all of a sudden: absolutely nothing.
I tell a lie. Because I suspect the general sum of human happiness would shift, ever so incrementally, upwards without them, so much misery are they responsible for. Bafflingly and distressingly we’ve elevated the celebrity chef to a point in our society where almost everyone will defer to them, as if they’re beyond reproach. Soldiers and mothers are the only other segments in British culture who are as untouchable as the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing and Marco Pierre White.
Ramsay is a essentially a sadistic school-master who would not be out of place bawling at a pale child on a rugby pitch; Wareing is a haunted Russian priest and White was surely born in of the pages of a nineties Martin Amis novel. These people are not simply rude, driven or arrogant but appear to be truly appalling creatures: bullying, monomaniacal and seemingly bent on the belief that what they’re doing is of great importance, whereas in reality they’re filleting a stock pigeon and pureeing some asparagus.
The worst of the type are clearly psychopathic, displaying an unnervingly brittle, slightly wide-eyed stare in tandem with spittle-flecked yelling when a school-teacher from Croydon hasn’t sufficiently charred a bream.
Yet they’re treated with the sort of reverence a Lord of the Manor is accorded by a village-green yokel. Clearly this is what we value these days: the ability to be a raging lunatic who is good at cooking puy lentils. If Ramsay thrust the unprotected cheek of an apprentice onto a scorching hot plate and held it there til his face was burned to a caramelised pork scratching, I firmly believe the police would turn a blind eye.
Allowances are made for these self-aggrandising carrot-choppers that would not be made for anyone else in any other walk of life. Time was we threw these people in an asylum; now we give them fire and knives and big contracts with supermarkets and hope they won’t chop our guts up.
And so it is that the elite chef is held up as the sort of person we obviously aspire to be in adverts: the kind of person whose traits – meticulous, driven and murderous – we obviously associate with success. Rather than raging egomaniacal insanity. And thus, here we have Kia Sorento advert, a middling SUV from a brand that is as thrilling as bag of Wotsits.
The message here is fairly clear – if you are a perfectionist; if you believe yourself to be successful and if you’re the kind of person who believes yourself to be a Type-A personality (and, perhaps more crucially, you really believe all that shit is important) you should buy a Kia Sorento. Most advertising tries to appeal to the aspirational drives in people – something we now seem to elevate above social justice, fairness, common sense and our mutual future as a species – in order to sell stuff.
Audi, BMW and Mercedes are particularly good at this sort of stuff and it engenders a phenomenon known as badge snobbery – mentally judging how successful you believe your peers, friends and rivals to be based on what small plastic circle is attached to the front of their car. Regrettably for Kia – and other manufacturers such as Hyundai, Renault and Vauxhall (to name three, among many, at random) – few people aspire to have one of these cars. So we get the shorthand of Personality Disorder Chef to represent success, money and self-esteem.
That we now believe these swivel-eyed samphire botherers, who’d rather slit your throat as serve you egg and chips, to be the acme of human achievement is more evidence that we’ve gone stark staring fucking mad.