The Rise and Rise of the Chefs

Jamie Oliver is named Christmas Number One for books the second year running – his fourth win since 2000 – by selling over 60,000 copies in one week. Walk into any bookshop and the Bestsellers display and “Buy this for Christmas” display are filled with celebrity memoirs, cartoon books and, most prominently, cookbooks. What is it about the Christmas season that makes us want to give everyone cookbooks? Is it a massive hint that the turkey was too dry last year? Is it an easy option because you don’t know what to get the mother-in-law?

Whatever it is, the cookbooks are simply getting more popular. I love a bit of Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers on the telly, and Mummaloo has discovered an awesome recipe or four from Jamie Oliver. Her Delia Smith and Nigella Lawson books are covered in greaseprints and food from overuse. So a cookbook is generally a safe option for good old Mummaloo. But I try not to get her them. Why? Because her cooking is pretty damn good, so she needs no hints, and I often DO know what to get her.

But that’s just me. Everyone else seems to snap up the Christmas edition cookbooks like they’re going out of fashion (they’re not). When I worked in a bookshop, I swore that if I ever saw Jamie-bloody-Oliver’s smiling-bloody-face one more time (after the fifth stack of books) I’d scream. But this year, here he is again (it’s not his fault I had to make thousands of stacks of his books, so I try not to bear a grudge).

Celebrity chefs are dominating our bookshelves and TVs. You can tell the fashion for food by what kind of food they’re making – is it whole and hearty, full of spice, or super quick? Either way, there will be a celebrity chef for you, and doubtless they have a Christmas special book out.

So cookbooks for Christmas aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Why do you think that is? And have you bought a cookbook present this year? Who is your favourite chef, and is Jamie Oliver deserving of his Number One status?

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