Is Appearance Getting In The Way? “New York Times” Criticizes Telegenic Chefs

Michael Voltaggio, Sam Talbot & Ludo Lefebvre Respond

Posted by on Mar 14

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Several celebrity chefs, many from "Top Chef" fame, were criticized earlier this month by The New York Times as being too "telegenic." The article accused them of using their good looks to get ahead unfairly in the culinary industry.

"[This] is a new breed of celebrity chefs who have coasted into culinary fame, less by grueling dues-paying, and more on their telegenic brand," NY Times writer Julia Chaplin stated.

The article pinpointed certain celebrity chefs by name including the brothers Brian and Michael Voltaggio, Sam Talbot, Ludo Lefebvre, Spike Mendelsohn, Sam Mason, Fabio Vivani, and Marcel Vigneron.

"These new schoolers tend to have tattoos (Mr. Talbot has 10), use hair gel, wear man jewelry and sport gym-buffed physiques clad in tailored flannels, designer denim, and $50 T-shirts," Chaplin added.

However, those under the scrutiny believe that Chaplin's statements about appearance aren't fair, either. Chefs Michael Voltaggio, Talbot, and Lefebvre have all spoken out about their looks, claiming that the fault lies with the media and not their lack of culinary skill.

"I'm truly insulted by this," says Voltaggio, whose 16 years of cooking experience began with enduring a $350-per-month job in New York. He is currently preparing to open a new gourmet restaurant in L.A., assuring, "I have mentally and physically given myself to my craft."

Ludo Lefebvre agrees, saying that he "suffered greatly" while under the tutelage of three-star Michelin chefs. Lefebvre's culinary training began at the age of 14, and he is now the host of "Ludo Bites Back" on the Sundance channel.

Michael Voltaggio also added that he was upset over an interview he recently gave to the website Tube Filter. In the interview, Voltaggio and his brother Brian discussed current passions such as raising awareness for childhood hunger and desiring to teach others how to cook from home. But the headline of the interview read, "Voltaggio Brothers Reveal Their Smoking Guns."

Sam Talbot noted that he frequently sees the words "hot," "hottie," or "hottest" in close proximity to his name whenever he receives a press mention, and he wished people would pay more attention to his menu than to his appearance.


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