We Spoke to the ‘Angry Chef’ Taking on the Wellness Bloggers
The chef behind Angry Chef, the hit Twitter account aiming to expose the “lies, pretensions, and stupidity in the world of food” tells us why people should eat ready meals without shame.
Photo via Flickr user darmastyo
As our news feeds become saturated with kale-inhaling wellness bloggers and the pitfalls of the "clean eating" movement are further exposed, it seems that the tide may finally be turning back towards eating like a normal person. And about time too—does anyone actually enjoy the taste of quinoa?
Among those rallying the anti-wellness battle cry and a return to wholesome, non-restrictive diets is The Angry Chef—the blog of chef Anthony Warner, a self-confessed "grumpy old man" who just wants everyone to listen to proper food science and not be ashamed about having a ready meal every now and then.
As well as blasting faddy health "lifestyles," Warner's blog covers the misconceptions surrounding processed foods and links between social deprivation and what we eat. He also rightly pokes fun at articles like "A bibimbap recipe packed with ingredients that maintain nerve health and brain function" (it's from Goop, obvs) from his @One_Angry_Chef Twitter account, which counts restaurant critic Jay Rayner and clean eating comedienne Bella Younger a.k.a. Deliciously Stella as fans.
We spoke to Warner to find out more about why the food industry is getting him so angry.
MUNCHIES: Hi Angry Chef, so why are you so angry? The Angry Chef: I started the blog eight months ago and it comes from a general dissatisfaction with lies and mistruths being spread around in the world of food. A lot of that has focus on the health and wellbeing aspect of food which seems to have an awful lot of pretty ridiculous science and misconceptions spread about.
What do you do when you're not writing as the Angry Chef? I've been a chef in restaurants and hotels and now I'm a development chef in the food manufacturing industry.
So, what makes you really angry? This idea that all convenience food is bad and those people who are eating it are doing something wrong and dreadful. The reality is it can be a very useful part of people's lives and be part of a balanced diet.
But surely you would say that if you work in the food manufacturing industry? If you're in the food manufacturing industry and you're making the product and you're putting that product on the shelf then there is an enormous amount you have to go through in order to make that happen. You can't lie about your product—you have to comply with rules and regulations.
But if you're a health blogger, you can kind of just say what you want. Someone can say: "These sugars are natural and that means they're really healthy." Well, they're not. They're still sugars.
Ah, wellness bloggers. Tell me about them. I find them all a bit irritating. Actually, when you look at the science underneath it and scratch the surface a bit, it all becomes quite dark. You look at a lot of the language that these people use and it's the language of eating disorders and the language of restriction.
There's the alkaline diet which Ella Woodward and Natasha Corrett follow and that's based on a really, really unpleasant American fake doctor called Robert Young who's now in jail. He made up lots of stuff about alkaline. He is known for persuading people to stop people taking prevention cancer treatments and making them follow this ridiculous diet that does no good.
I find it quite unpleasant and am very uncomfortable with it.
What has the reaction been like to the blog? There'll always be people who disagree but generally the reaction has been very good. It was originally designed for me and a few friends in the food industry. I didn't really expect it to become popular.
The best reactions I get are firstly from a lot of academics, nutritionists, and dieticians. But they're fighting proper battles. They are dieticians having to deal with eating disorders as a result of the fallout of clean eating.
I also get a lot of contact from people who are really struggling because there are so many messages about food and they find it really confusing. They just somehow latched onto this and my blog appeals to them in some way. It's a bit sweary and has a niche to it with some humour.
What do you want to achieve with the blog? I don't think it's going to change the world! But I just want to give people the confidence back in science and trust in scientific authority rather than Googling healthy eating and clicking on the first thing that comes up.
I want to get rid of some of the guilt that pervades the world of food and some of the shame that people feel. You don't have to feel shame when you're eating an ice cream or a biscuit. That's alright as long as that's not all you're eating.
It's trying to get people away from excluding things from their diet based on misconception.
And finally, what makes The Angry Chef happy? Even though I don't post pictures of my dinner or anything I cook and there are no recipes on my website, it's all borne out of a love of food and a need to protect food. Helping people feel more comfortable about food and get people to realise that science is an amazing thing. That would make me happy.
Angry Chef is a character really, not a pseudonym. I have no problem people knowing who I am. It is just to separate it from my personal life and give me a bit more freedom to express myself. Although I share the same views, I am nowhere near as angry in real life.
Thanks for talking to me, (not so) Angry Chef.