Chuck Williams of Williams Sonoma said to this writer in an interview a few years ago that whenever Julia Child used a particular gadget on her TV show, he would have a run on it in his store the following day. Nowadays, many TV cooks use their programs to promote their products, either directly by using them, or indirectly by using their products in their cookbooks. Either way, they hope, viewers and readers will buy their products to make their dishes.
If that is the case, then be careful what you cook on TV. It had better not be an endangered species of fish. Or so a couple chefs found out recently.
On the BBC program MasterChef: The Professionals, three chefs had to prepare dishes using smoked eel as the main ingredient, The Guardian reports. Eel is a critically endangered species in the Europe, due to over fishing. The program encouraged viewers to make the same eel dish at home (or order at a restaurant)…
We absolutely recognise the very important issue of sourcing sustainable ingredients and, in all our MasterChef programmes, we take a lot of time and make every effort to use locally sourced ingredients. The eel in question was used in a classic recipe test, and came from a farm in Northern Ireland run by priests who assured us it had come from a sustainable source. For future series, contestants will be required to consider the endangered fish list when submitting menus.
Moral: Don’t cook with any endangered species. Instead, encourage viewers to use sustainable, organic ingredients whenever possible.