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Every October 20, foodies, home cooks, and professional chefs across the world celebrate International Chef’s Day. As the name implies, the day is meant to celebrate the greatest of our culinary gurus. This year, the day itself was met with the same amount of enthusiasm and vigor, but the demographic of those being celebrated is […]
Every October 20, foodies, home cooks, and professional chefs across the world celebrate International Chef’s Day. As the name implies, the day is meant to celebrate the greatest of our culinary gurus. This year, the day itself was met with the same amount of enthusiasm and vigor, but the demographic of those being celebrated is much different than in the past.
The shift in International Chef’s Day can be directly tied to the rise of food television. Take Food Network, for example: the food-centered channel generates 34% of its parent company’s $2.4 billion annual revenue. In the past, chefs like Mario Batali, Alton Brown, and even the vitriolic Anthony Bourdain led the charge and pulled in the majority of Food Network’s income. Now, popular Latino chefs are increasingly bumping up the company’s revenue. Subsequently, from Aarón Sanchez to Ingrid Hoffman, more and more of the faces celebrated on International Chef’s Day are Hispanic.
How Representation Has Changed in the Last Five Years
If you were to watch the Food Network 10 or even just five years ago, you’d see a markedly different landscape. Anthony Bourdain’s ill-fated “A Cook’s Tour” for the Food Network, for instance, featured Latinos in stereotypical, low-paying positions as fry and line cooks in his kitchen in New York. Recently invigorated interest in classic Hispanic foods, like the near ancient enchilada, which was invented under Mayan rule in Mexico, has helped reshape the overwhelmingly Caucasian food TV industry. Today, Aarón Sanchez helps lead the popular Cooking Channel competition show “Chopped.” Chef Ingrid Hoffman headlines “Simply Delicioso” for Food Network, and the Spanish-language show “Delicioso” for Univision.
Art Imitates Life
Luckily, the increased visibility of accomplished Latino chefs isn’t reserved for the small screen. From Miami Beach to Venice Beach, Hispanic chefs — female ones in particular — are making a big splash. The increased popularity of these chefs and their world class eats has been so stark that Huffington Post once likened many Latina chefs, like the aforementioned Ingrid Hoffman, to Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez, comparing what the culinary gurus are doing for food to what the pop idols did for Latinos in popular music.
None of this should be taken to mean that the issues of representation have been solved, whether in the realms of professional and celebrity cooking or elsewhere, but they certainly mark a step in the right direction for the community.
Who are some of your favorite Latino celebrity chefs, and which of their recipes do you like best? Let us know in the comment section below.
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