Delia and Nigella sink to bottom of seafood table

All at sea: Nigella. Photograph of Nigella Lawson: Brian Minkoff, Wikipedia
29 Oct 2013 @ 11.43 am
| Food & Drink
All at sea: Nigella. Photograph of Nigella Lawson: Brian Minkoff, Wikipedia
All at sea: Nigella. Photograph of Nigella Lawson: Brian Minkoff, Wikipedia

Delia, Nigella and Jamie may be firm favourites in the kitchen, but these celebrity chefs are all at sea when it comes to sustainability, according to York University.

Researchers from the university’s environment department ranked the cook books published by ten celebrity chefs between 2005 and 2012 according to the sustainability of the seafood they feature.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was the front runner throughout the time period, with his books achieving an average score of 87 per cent.

But Delia Smith scored consistently low, between 17 and 22 per cent, and was marooned at the bottom of the table. One place above was Nigella Lawson, with a 26 per cent average, and Jamie Oliver was eighth in the league with 30 per cent.

Gordon Ramsay, who once encouraged people to eat an endangered fish called orange roughy, rose from bottom of the table in 2007 to third place by 2012.

Raymond Blanc also saw a big boost in his sustainable seafood scores, from 22 per cent to 85 per cent between 2005 and 2011.

Sea food and eat it

“I love to cook and eat seafood, and I love to feed it to my family. It’s such great food, and so good for us in so many ways,” said Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

“All the more reason to do what we can to ensure we can continue to eat it for generations to come.”

Polly Bowman carried out the research. She said sales of products endorsed by celebrity chefs mean their “ethical leanings may therefore influence the behaviour of consumers”.

Dr Bryce Stewart, who supervised the work, added: “We should not shy away from increased promotion of seafood sustainability in popular culture as it offers a potentially important way of reducing pressure on the marine environment.

“There is increasing evidence that demand for sustainable seafood is leading to improvements in both fisheries management and the health of certain fish stocks.”

Celebrity chef sustainable seafood scores

Chef2005-72009-112012Average
1. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall91%91%80%87%
2. Raymond Blanc22%85%54%
3. Heston Blumenthal65%30%65%53%
4. Gordon Ramsay16%34%63%38%
5. Hairy Bikers30%30%45%35%
6. Antony Worrall Thompson27%39%33%
7. Rick Stein32%24%43%33%
8. Jamie Oliver20%38%32%30%
9. Nigella Lawson22%33%24%26%
10. Delia Smith22%17%20%

The research team used data from the Marine Conservation Society’s Fishonline website (www.fishonline.org) to score the sustainability of the average gram of seafood in each book.

This was combined with a grading of the introduction, recipes and alternative suggested species in each book to produce an overall “sustainability” score.