Gregg Wallace: the era of TV chefs teaching people to cook is over

The MasterChef co-host claims traditional cooking shows featuring chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith explaining recipes have had their day – but he has a plan for an alternative

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The era of traditional cooking shows on TV is over – and Gregg Wallace says he’s the one to come up with a brand new foodie format.

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The MasterChef judge claims that the idea of chefs such as Jamie Oliver teaching viewers how to cook has had its day, and is putting pen to paper trying to come up with an alternative.

“I’m having a go at writing some of my own TV ideas,” Wallace told RadioTimes.com. “Staying with food,” he confirmed as we pondered whether Wallace was suddenly about to helm a new comedy or drama series.

“I kind of think the days of just standing up in front of people and cooking – like Jamie [Oliver] did with The Naked Chef and like Delia [Smith] did brilliantly – I kind of think those days are over.”

The long-standing MasterChef co-host says that working on shows like the BBC’s Eat Well For Less? has seen him inundated with requests for easy to follow low-fat recipes.

“Travelling around now talking to families – which is fascinating – I hear somebody say, ‘I don’t have time to cook’. What that translates into in my mind now is, ‘I don’t know how to’,” he said.

The explosion of plans like Lean In 15 and their accompanying online videos certainly gives weight to Wallace’s claims. Joe Wicks is about to hit a million followers on Instagram where he regular posts recipes carried out with what seems to be one hand and a mobile phone.

But the traditional cookery show can’t be written off completely. After all, the power of Mary Berry can’t be denied, nor that of firm favourites Nigella Lawson and Nigel Slater. Even Wallace’s former stomping ground, Saturday Kitchen, regularly boasts three million viewers each week, clocking up 14 years on the air.  

However, Wallace says they’re already doing different things – “They do films and interviews” – and that they’re still not targeting what he sees as a gap in the market. “A lot of it is celebratory food, it’s not centred on family eating or healthy, quick and easy.”

Wallace wants to bring more than just food to the table: “I’m a very keen amateur historian, so I wouldn’t mind combining food, travel and a little bit of history as well. I also like people, so I’d like to do more stuff with people.”

Although it seems the waste paper basket has seen some action, as the former grocer-turned-media personality admitted he’s not quite landed on the right mix of content.  

“People really crave quick, healthy and easy recipes, but I don’t know which format to put that in for a television show,” Wallace admitted. “That’s the one that’s challenging me at the moment.”

MasterChef returns Wednesday 23rd March at 8pm on BBC1

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Gregg will be offering further insight on food and drink at The Ideal Home Show which returns to London Olympia from 18th March –3rd April, tickets are available now at www.idealhomeshow.co.uk