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Running title: The Angry Chef’s Guide To Spotting Bullshit In The World Of Food – Bad Science And The Truth About Healthy Eating.

There is something that is darkly appealing about a book with scatological epithets (bad words) in the title. Even more this was one of those books that beckoned to me with a Marilyn Monroe-ish voice … er,maybe I should not have said that out loud (and I really need to get out more). So I gave in …to a book about food and healthy eating (and it wasn’t a slow month). But enough with the bollocks and let’s be on with it. Yeah?
Anthony Warner is a professional chef, blogger … and oh yes, has a degree in biochemistry and has been known to write for the likes of New Scientist. That’s some serious cred.
In Spotting Bullshit, Mr. Warner sets out to pretty much hack away at the noise in the health food industry that is generated by mostly bloggers, Instagramers and celebrities. It is a literary bloodbath. I’ve never been too keen on diets and other such bunk, I’ve always been the type to eat anything … but in moderation (or at least I try to). And for awhile I’ve always felt like an odd duck. Sure I’d come across ton of books on detox diets and diet du jours and I’ve never felt inclined to try any of them. As a matter of fact I’ve looked at some smoothie books and after a quick calculation as to how much raw materials would cost to make ONE smoothie, I decided against it and those books never made it into my house. What makes Spotting Bullshit works is that it is not just some chap spouting opinionated, vague trendy info (as most health bloggers seemingly do). There is a lot of scientific facts presented along with some good old fashioned common sense discourse … with a bit of acidic language tossed in, which only adds to its character. It does gets a wee bit technical (on occasion) but it is kept to digestible amounts for most people. For those that are addicted to health blogging sites, this book just might be your literary detox (though ironically detox shows up as a very dirty word in this book … and for good reason). There are things that are excerpted, in this book, from some of these health blogging websites that are downright hilarious … and then you realize that this stuff might actually be hurting people too. Certain celebrity bloggers did not fare well in this book and for good reason due to some of the things they’ve put out there: such as claiming that coconut oil is so bloody healthy that not only can it be eaten by the spoonfuls but also serves as a great mouthwash and sexual lubricant (preferably separately, we all hope). Yes, I kid you not. The book even shows how rigid diet du jours such as the Atkins diet and the Paleo diet along with really bad pseudoscience can weave itself into people’s psyche where the need to stay “healthy” overwrites all logic and circumstance. One of the most stunning examples: a patient in a hospice refusing to help themselves to some buttered croissants for fear that the carbs would feed the cancer cell growth.Translation: someone in a terminal situation as in point of no return as in facing death in the immediate future … is still worrying about carbs instead of enjoying a bit of fleeting indulgence. Sad. Troubling.
For most people Spotting Bullshit would most likely be a confirmation of what they’ve all suspected all along but got so caught up with being “trending” that somewhere along the way they got sidetracked. Spotting Bullshit makes a harsh revelation about the so called health food industry (hint: has little to do with your health and more about your money). Most of all it is an encouragement to simply … enjoy food. Without all the strange rules. And in moderation. Period.

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Sometimes television, in its eagerness to raise ratings and create sensationalistic programs, ends up distorting the way we view subject matter or individuals. The first time I saw the reality based show, Hell’s Kitchen, my first distinct impression of Chef Gordon Ramsay was that he as brash, crude and completely marinating in his ego and an exaggerated view of self worth. However, morbid curiosity kept me watching this show and the more I watched the more certain subtle things leapt out to me that told me that I wasn’t seeing the whole picture. There was was something beneath all the temper tantrums and obsession with perfection.

Roasting In Hell’s Kitchen, brought this full circle for me. In Roasting, Chef Ramsay gives us a no holds barred description of his stormy nightmare of a childhood and what drove him into the kitchen which in turn gave him an escape from his tumultuous upbringing and past. He spares very little in revealing the cutthroat world that lurks behind all that suave, high-styled facade of the culinary industry. Frankly, you could do better with a ravenous school of piranhas. This explains where he gets his disciplined approach in working in the kitchen. The book, needless to say, is littered with the unavoidable F-bombs as was indicated by the subtitle and should not be as shocking since most of his reality show is perforated with bleeps. Oddly enough, and as much as I hate to admit (or condone) it, this works quite well in his favour. You basically hear his voice throughout the entire book as if it were an actual audio book narrated by the man himself, for he writes (in perfect English) the way he talks on his show. This adds tremendously to the emotional content of his writing and you get to feel his bitterness, frustrations, and vulnerabilities (yes, the man is very human).

At the core, Roasting In Hell’s Kitchen is one of those working man stories that you cheer for and appreciate. Instead of seeing some spoiled brat resting on the their parents’ laurels and wealth and making a complete twit of themselves, we see someone that’s been handed a sack of rotting lemons in life and with hard work, humility, and sacrifice had managed to make it into the most delightful glass of peach flavoured lemonade. I saw not an egomaniac blowhard that threw temper tantrums in the kitchen but a man obsessed with delivering a delightful culinary gift and a superb dining experience to every customer that sits at his tables. It is refreshing, that despite his fame, he still remains this grounded in his professional and personal life. The truth is, we all could learn a bit from him. I have. A truly touching memoir, that’ll probably have you cheering rather than scolding Chef Ramsay. Needless to say, I am always curious about his culinary escapades on the telly.

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