Professionalism, place, and authenticity in The Cook and the Chef
Abstract: The ABC television production, The Cook and the Chef explicitly embodies a dichotomy that operates around a series of binaries including cook/chef, domestic/professional, and local/global. While the privileging of the domestic, and the female, over the professional and the male is a common trope in television food programmes, what is less common is a privileging of the local over the global. In this article I will examine the way in which the domestic, local cook (Maggie Beer) is portrayed in a valorised position, over the professionally trained, cosmopolitan chef (Simon Byrant).
The show positions Beer in her own place, the Barossa Valley in South Australia, but in a way that evokes an imagined Italy. On the other hand, Bryant’s place—the impersonal, commercial kitchen of the Adelaide Hilton—is rarely shown, and the chef is depicted as an aloof cosmopolitan figure, drifting through the world, but not at home anywhere. Through recourse to theories of place-identity and cosmopolitanism, the paper will demonstrate the way in which these themes of the local and the cosmopolitan are mediated by discourses of the natural and of community, creating a sense of authenticity, which privileges the grounded figure of the cook, over the mobile cosmopolitanism of the chef.