Delia Smith criticises Masterchef

Delia Smith claims BBC1 show intimidates aspiring cooks. Picture: PA
Delia Smith claims BBC1 show intimidates aspiring cooks. Picture: PA
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COOKERY queen Delia Smith has taken a swipe at MasterChef for undermining the confidence of aspiring cooks.

Smith, 71, who now runs an online cookery school and recently received a Bafta special award, named the Hairy Bikers as her true TV successors.

Asked whether she worried that shows such as MasterChef, the hit BBC1 series presented by John Torode and Greg Wallace, intimidated rather than inspired, she said: “Yes, I would never be a judge on that. They used to ask me, but I could never criticise people: my job is to make them feel they can do it.”

She said that the Hairy Bikers had taken up her mantle, adding: “They make it funny and yet they make you think, ‘I’d like to make that’. That’s very clever.”

Smith has criticised modern food programmes for entertaining more than they educate. “Food isn’t theatre and to make it into theatre is wrong. It can speak for itself and it’s wonderful and it’s beautiful and it’s art – it’s everything,” she said.

“I don’t think it needs that kind of embellishment. Our problem is we don’t think highly enough of it and so we think we’ve got to wrap it up in all kinds of other things.”

She added: “We’ve lost our grip on home cooking. I can see that by the way kitchen equipment shops are in decline. There are a lot of shortcuts, but the main problem is that people are afraid to cook.”

Smith, who has retired from TV, said: “Everybody now knows about food from around the world and what chefs do; but not everybody knows how to make an omelette. What is missing is the basics. There’s where I come in … that’s what I want to try and do: fill that gap.”