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Abstracts, NORMA 8.1

Cooking as masculine escapism: Masculine identity in The Naked Chef and Spise med Price

Jonatan Leer

The boom in food television has presented a whole new gallery of celebrity chefs. It is striking that the majority are men and that many of them can be read as ways of negotiating an ‘uncertain’ masculine position through cooking. A case in point is The Naked Chef (1999–2001) in which Jamie Oliver uses cooking to balance competing discourses on masculinity in his cosmopolitan London life style. This article sets out to compare the way masculinity is performed through cooking in The Naked Chef and the popular Danish food show Spise med Price (2008– ), in which two brothers cook in an isolated summerhouse. Theoretically, the analysis is inspired by Søndergaard’s theory on post-traditional gender as constant negotiation of fluid gender boundaries. Cooking can be a way of doing this balancing project, as seen in the case of The Naked Chef. It is argued that in Spise med Price cooking is used to create a performative space of homosocial bonding that allows the two brothers to play with the taboos of everyday life. This homosociality is rendered ambivalent through an explicit use of irony and humour. The Naked Chef and Spise med Price can be read as different ways of using cooking to perform masculinity to a post-traditional era. Finally, it is suggested that Spise med Price could be seen as part of a tendency for cooking shows that portray men escaping the post-traditional social scene and its imperative for gender negotiation.

NORMA: Nordic Journal for Masculinity Studies 8(1), 42-57.

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