Nigella Lawson slams ‘mean’ cooking shows: ‘A theatre of cruelty and humiliation’

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Nigella Lawson attends a Dinner Hosted By Nigella Lawson - Part of The NYT Cooking Dinner Series during 2016 Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (Getty)
Nigella Lawson attends a Dinner Hosted By Nigella Lawson - Part of The NYT Cooking Dinner Series during 2016 Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (Getty)

Nigella Lawson has criticised some cooking shows for not treating contestants with respect.

The celebrity cook, 62, described cooking shows that are “mean” to its participants as “counterproductive” and a “theatre of cruelty and humiliation”.

Lawson recently joined Australian cooking show My Kitchen Rules as a judge in its newest season.

She told Australian Women’s Weekly that cooking shows that involve shouting and making disparaging comments to contestants is “counterproductive for everyone”.

“It makes people at home feel inhibited about cooking too, because they have this persecutory voice in their heads,” she added.

“I couldn’t be part of a programme like that. It doesn’t mean to say you’re not honest, but there’s never a need to be mean.”

Popular TV cooking shows such as Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen famously feature judges and chefs shouting down contestants.

Hell’s Kitchen sees aspiring chefs competing to win the grand prize of US$250,000 (£211,287) and the opportunity to work as head chef or executive chef at one of Ramsay’s restaurants.

Some of the worst moments on the show include Ramsay calling one of the contestants a “plank”, which the chef explained meant “an idiot”, and he told another contestant he had the “palate of a cow’s backside”.

Lawson’s presence on My Kitchen Rules was described as “perfect” by her co-host, Manu Feildel.

He explained that the show’s format has changed and will no longer include “the fights and the competition and people stabbing each other in the back” that previous seasons had.

“Originally, My Kitchen Rules wasn’t about that… We went away a little bit from what [the show] used to be and we’re bringing that back – that sense of encouraging people just to cook and love food.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Lawson revealed that cooking for herself is what got her through her first husband John Diamond’s terminal cancer.

She said that cooking meals for one when the late Diamond, who had oral cancer, couldn’t eat, was “part of holding onto my sanity”.

Diamond died aged 47 in March 2001. The couple had been married for nine years before his death and share two children.

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