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Sparks fly over claim that recipes by male chefs are easier to understand

By Claire McNeilly

Published 12/09/2007

Ian Paisley, Jnr, Seymour Sweeney, of Seaport Ltd, Ian Paisley in Bushmills in February
Ian Paisley, Jnr, Seymour Sweeney, of Seaport Ltd, Ian Paisley in Bushmills in February

Two leading Ulster chefs today said that cooking up a ravishing recipe should have nothing to do with gender.

Nick Price and Cath Gradwell made their comments after a recent survey suggested women write cookery instructions that are too difficult to follow.

The verdict - that male chefs are easier to understand - follows a Government study in which experts looked at 35 recipes.

Penned by celebrity chefs from both sexes - including Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver - experts assessed them on literacy standards, layout, writing style and readability, only to conclude that women waffle, while men get to the point.

Indeed, the survey found that 5.2 million adults in the UK would be unable to follow Nigella's cooking methods as she uses longer sentences and tends to write in a chatty style, mixing personal observations with her instructions.

On the other hand, the report claimed that almost half of Gordon Ramsay's recipes were so simple that a seven-year-old could follow them.

But speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Nick Price, chef at Nick's Warehouse in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter, said that approaches to cooking and recipe writing were personal.

"I think a lot depends on the individual, but there may be a more relaxed attitude from the man as opposed to the women," he said.

"Possibly men are more focused when it comes to cookery.

"It's a shotgun approach to say that female chefs are harder to understand in print.

"That's a bit like saying you don't like French wine, without having tried every single French wine."

Meanwhile, Cath Gradwell, former chef at award-winning Aldens restaurant in Belfast, said that, in some cases, women were superior at conjuring up culinary delights.

"I don't think women chefs waffle at all," she said. "Recipes written by women are generally easier to read than men.

"However, it does depend on the chef. Jamie Oliver is easy to follow, but someone like Gordon Ramsay can be boring and long-winded."

She added: "Temperament-wise, at least, women are much better chefs."

The research, carried out by the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills, was commissioned to highlight the Government's adult learning campaign.

Belfast Telegraph

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