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Leeds public invited to share their app-etite for celebrity chefs at free event


A Leeds Beckett University academic will be cooking up a debate in Leeds next month as she delves into the relationship between celebrity chefs and smartphone apps at a free public event.

Dr Melanie Chan

Taking place on Wednesday 8 November from 12.30-1.30pm, Dr Melanie Chan, Senior Lecturer in the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities at Leeds Beckett, will host an interactive, participatory session at the Leeds Central Library entitled ‘An Appetite for Cookery and Lifestyle’.

Apps (applications) for smartphones and tablets by well-known cooks are increasingly popular. In Dr Chan’s talk, she will focus on two apps: Nigella: The Quick Collection and Jamie Oliver’s Recipes, exploring how interactive features such as voice control, shopping list features and links to social networks encourage habitual usage and increase the reach of these celebrity chefs and their brands. 

Dr Chan explained: “Food and cookery impact upon our daily life in all sorts of ways, from comfort eating to strict dieting. We have varied opinions and strong feelings about what to eat. Today, there are many conflicting messages about food and cookery.

“Celebrity chefs, such as Jamie Oliver, encourage us to cook our meals from scratch. In his television programmes, Jamie makes this seem easy and achievable. Celebrity cookbooks are best-sellers and include lavish photographs of delectable dishes and lifestyles.  Lifestyle gurus such as Deliciously Ella (Ella Mills) promote vegan recipes and lifestyles through short YouTube video cookery tutorials and recipe blogs.

“On the other hand, people are spending money on convenience food such as ready-meals and fast food. Now we can even order food to be delivered through the use of a mobile phone app, such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats. Taking these points into consideration, my talk will explore the ways in which cookery apps are a new way of finding and using recipes, home cooking and engaging with celebrity cooks.”

After Dr Chan’s main presentation, there will be an interactive session where the audience will be encouraged to discuss their favourite cookery books and recipes with others and to share experiences of using cookery apps.

The event is part of Leeds Cultural Conversations – a series of free lunchtime talks organised by the Centre for Culture and the Arts at Leeds Beckett University. To book a place, please click here.

Dr Chan’s talk is based on research for her forthcoming book, Digital Reality, which will be published by Bloomsbury in 2019.

Upcoming talks within the Leeds Cultural Conversations series include: ‘Asbestos in Leeds: A history of transnational contamination’, by Dr Jessica Van Horssen on Wednesday 6 December at Leeds Town Hall; ‘Dystopia, apocalypse and contemporary women’s writing’, by Professor Susan Watkins on Wednesday 7 February at Leeds Town Hall; ‘Forgotten Heroine? Recovering Emily Hobhouse 1899-1926’, by Dr Helen Dampier on Wednesday 7 March at Leeds Town Hall; and ‘Parklife: When Roundhay went Pop’, by Dr Peter Mills, on Wednesday 4 April at Leeds Central Library.

All talks run from 12.30-1.30pm and more information can be found here.  

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