Little Paris Kitchen: Rachel Khoo knew what to do

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Rachel Khoo's Little Paris Kitchen is really quite watchable, in a way that the Ridiculous Miss Dahl (or whatever the programme was called) could never be.

Why? Because pretty little Racheycakes is trained and credibility goes a long way. 

Yes, (also pretty) Sophie Dahl can knock together some attractive plates of food. But the concept of her show was so outrageously contrived - right down to the shabby chic London property that was hired to be her kitchen - it was unbearable viewing. 
Don't get me wrong, Little Paris Kitchen (series two, after the cash has rolled in, Penthouse Paris Kitchen?) is also seriously over-stylised and twee. But it's forgiveable, because for a start, it really is her kitchen.

Every other week Nigella Lawson faces a new threat to her domestic goddess crown, (think Gizzi Erskine, Lorraine Pascale, Laura Zilli), but the "British Amelie" - see what they did there? Cunning! - is aspirational in a slightly different way.

Croydon-born Khoo's approach to a culinary career was proactive. 

Having bagged herself a degree in Art & Design from Central Saint Martin's College she went on to work in PR for a luxury fashion brand. But then she followed her heart and took herself off to Paris where she studied at Le Cordon Bleu and earned herself a second degree, this time in pastry.

Her professional cookery career kicked off at the tea salon of Paris culinary bookstore La Cocotte and she has since written three cook books too.

So while this telly cook might not be everyone's cup of tea- and to be fair, I probably won't set the timer to record it if I'm out - I respect Rachel Khoo for having the drive to live her particular dream. How many of us can say we do that?

* Little Paris Kitchen airs on Mondays at 20.30 on BBC2

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5 Comments

Sounds like another female critic jealous of Sophie's culinary skills and beauty.

Does it? How strange... I describe Miss Dahl as pretty and her plates of food as attractive.

But I still think the programme was a bit ridiculous and clearly I wasn't the only one as the show wasn't recommissioned. I'm sure Mrs Cullum has moved on to bigger and better things.

P.S. Any relation?

Miss Dahl is a very attractive woman and a probably a competent cook. Janie Manzoori-Stamford was pointing out the misdirected conceit for the programme is what led to its failure. What input Sophie had into the genesis of her own show is an unknown to me. But what I can say, is that there is a constant pressure to come up with something original and new in the crowded world of food television. Sometimes these experiments work and sometimes they don't. As a producer of many food programmes I have great sympathy with the the team that put Sophie's show together and I'm sure they've poured over the reasons as to why it didn't chime with the viewers in the way they hoped. It was, in my opinion, because it lacked authenticity. It didn't matter that Sophie was a good cook and pretty to look at and that the BBC promo'd the hell out of the show; it was that we the viewers didn't relate to her or believe that this was how she lived and cooked. There is a fine line between inspiration and aspiration and you have to tread it carefully. Too much aspiration and we lose reality.

Rachel Khoo's programme is the opposite of Sophie's in many ways (and I have nothing to do with the programme). It's not perfect, no show is, but vitally, she comes across as being real.

So in summary Mr Cullum, your comment comes across as being misogynistic and lazy. You assume that any woman who wishes to criticise another woman must be jealous, which makes you in my book somewhat foolish. Instead of accusing someone of holding a particularly nasty emotional response, perhaps you should instead examine the reasons why Sophie didn't get her second series and see if there is any way to revisit her skills in a way which might lead people to be inspired not repelled.

Won't set the timer to record it if you're out. Why on earth not? Its unmissable. Rachel is brilliant. I watched James Martin, a pastry chef who I respect, explain in detail how to make the perfect choux pastry on Saturday Kitchen a couple of weeks ago and then watched Rachel do exactly the same thing. I know which was best. She somehow seems to do things the old fashioned way but with modern simplicity and definitely with a bit of French flair. She's also just wonderful to listen to, in a way slightly reminiscent of Keith Floyd. I'd have enjoyed sharing a wee dram with Keith Floyd and I'm absolutely sure I'd love to share a Petit Chablis with Rachel. It a fantastic programme and she's an amazing cook. Credit to the BBC for commissioning the series.

Sophie Dahl's show made me want to shoot myself in the head. It was crass, contrived and completely execrable, not to mention an insult to every cook who's appeared on television - even the piss-poor ones.

Khoo is a little better, though personally it's too early to call. I loathe her lack of organisation and technical skill but in part it feels like it's part of her personality. The 3-month pastry qualification is barely relevant - in comparison to Lorraine Pascale, who's actually worked in professional kitchens, but I do feel that it's part of a greater shift to help people appreciate the classics; her audience is clearly young and female, and further up the scale Raymond Blanc has done his native land a huge credit with the excellent The Very Hungry Frenchman. It would add more credibility to the programme is she explained the provenance and origins of each dish before she set about with her variation.

You can't be serious about James Martin - sure, the guy's worked professionally but I think having some of the greatest chefs on his show has gone to his head.

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