Tuesday 12 August 2008

Our Gwen Gill gets a slap on the wrist over Delia Smith comment

I see that John Tovey had a go at Sunday Times columnist and veteran consumer journalist Gwen Gill in a letter published in Sunday's edition of the paper. I'm presuming this is the same John Tovey, the hotelier and chef famous for inventing Sticky Toffee Pudding. Here's what he said:

'Gwen Gill reached another profound low with her “Feeling Cheated” (Travel & Food, July 6) about Delia Smith’s latest book.

The opening sentence ending in “her name has suddenly become culinary compost” really sums Gill up and does her no favours.

I have been a close friend of Delia’s for 30-odd years. She has more integrity and talent in her little finger than Gill has in her whole body. The book sold 1.5 million copies: put that in your pipe and smoke it.'

A bit rough, I thought - I am a great fan of Gwen's, and she has integrity and talent by the bucketload - so I went in search of the original article. All I could find was a single sarcastic jab at St. Delia.

I can't imagine why Tovey has his knickers in a knot. All Gwen did, by commenting that Delia's name had become 'culinary compost', was to reflect the angry backlash against her latest bestselling cookbook, How to Cheat at Cooking. Foodies and loyal fans alike were flabbergasted by some of the trashy recipes in the new book, accusing her of, according to an article in The Guardian - ' hypocrisy, betrayal and cynicism'.

And anyway, Ms Smith doesn't mince her own words when it comes to dissing other celebrity chefs. A feature on celebrity chef spats, in The Telegraph, quotes her as saying, about Gary Rhodes and Antony Worrall Thompson, "I hate Gary Rhodes's programmes and I think that Antony Worrall Thompson is worse. He is dreadful, just repulsive. I think that Food And Drink, the show that he is on, is the most disgusting programme on television. I will never, ever know, as long as I live, how the BBC or the general public can tolerate it."

Although I'm also a fan of Delia's meticulous recipes, I haven't read the book, and judging from these recipes, and the comments by tasters, I don't think I want to.

As for Gwen- well, she's just been honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Vodacom Women in the Media Awards, and deservedly so. And I wonder what Tovey means by 'another profound low' and 'really sums Gill up'? Has Tovey ever actually met Gwen Gill?

So Oy, hands off our Gwen, Tovey - she's a national institution here in South Africa.
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