Together with colleagues at Nottingham Trent University who were also enthusiastic eaters and cooks, I designed and taught a module on Food and Culture which resulted in the book Food and Cultural Studies (with Bob Ashley, Steve Jones and Ben Taylor). This book examined what cultural studies could offer to our understanding of food, exploring everyday food practices in relation to broader questions about national identity, globalization, consumption and ethics. As a result of this book, I became increasingly interested in food media, food writing, cooking practices, food consumption and the relationships between food and gender.
My work on food media includes historical studies of gender and cooking in relation to Playboy magazine and Julia Child but has primarily focused on contemporary television cookery. Alongside exploring the key features of TV cookery as it became increasingly lifestyled, I have examined the function and significance of contemporary celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Heston Blumenthal. This work considers questions about the class and gender politics of cooking and eating; the relationships between professional and domestic cookery; and ethical consumption. My research also investigates campaigning culinary documentaries such as Jamie’s Ministry of Food and The People’s Supermarket, investigating the role of celebrities in public and political life.
I also have an interest in the use of food in branding and shaping urban cultures and, along with Steve Jones and Ben Taylor, have explored the role of urban food festivals in creating hospitable cities.