Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: 'I want to dictate the taste of the nation'
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Thread: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: 'I want to dictate the taste of the nation'

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland

    Default Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: 'I want to dictate the taste of the nation'

    There you go an arrogant dick head that wants to dictate to all of us what to eat , its got NOTHING to do with discards just his attitude, time to kick this arsehole out and off the tv for good I say

    'Look,” says Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, “in the eyes of pretty much anyone, I’m a toff, aren’t I?”

    He smiles. The cook, television presenter and author was in the year above David Cameron at Britain’s leading public school. “I’ve got a double-barrelled name. I went to Eton. How can I say, 'Listen, I’m just faintly upper middle class’?”

    He loves – and is loved for – getting dirty in the vegetable patch and bloody in the kitchen, as a passionate advocate of home-grown or ethically sourced food. But even those who adore his River Cottage television shows or sign up to his campaigns against battery farming and wasteful fishing know him as – to quote one reviewer – a floppy-haired toff.

    “To me, toff means landed aristocracy,” he protests, gently. “You’re not to bend and abuse this quote, but if you’re at Eton there are people who are toffs and you’re not. But to someone who isn’t anywhere near that background … of course I’m a toff.”

    Copies of his latest book, Three Good Things, are handed to him as we sit in Toppings bookshop in Ely, Cambridgeshire. With a high-profile TV career, a cookery school, a couple of restaurants and a series of bestselling books, he has joined Jamie and Delia as a foodie so famous he needs only a first name, which he scrawls on each cover page: “Hugh”. The book goes with a new Channel 4 series.

    Handsome, eloquent, campaigning, with connections to those in power… is he becoming the Coalition’s Jamie Oliver?

    “They haven’t put a lot of work my way,” he says, laughing. “Jamie got a couple of good cooking gigs for the visit of Barack Obama, or whatever, but I haven’t been entertaining the Coalition, or any of their foreign guests at River Cottage. Always open to suggestions.”

    Jamie was pals with Tony Blair. Hugh’s cousin Sarah is married to David Cameron’s brother, Alexander. “Those are chance connections. I’m not pally. I know these guys, but they are not close personal friends.”

    Is he not forever hanging out with Dave? “I’m not ever hanging out with Dave. We have friends in common, but we don’t see each other except through those friends.”

    Still, we have an Old Etonian Prime Minister and Chancellor, and Mayor of London, and it looks like the next Archbishop of Canterbury will be one, too. None of the others is available to comment, so what’s going on, Hugh?

    “What can one say? I had a great time at that school. But not such a great time that I’m sending my own kids there. It is, in many senses, a ridiculous place.”

    Fearnley-Whittingstall lives in the West Country with his wife Marie, a French journalist, and their four children, aged between two and 16. The family home is not River Cottage HQ but another farm, with cows, sheep, pigs and chickens and a vegetable garden.

    The book’s introduction gives a glimpse of family life. “Come to my house for breakfast,” he says. “Freddy’s devouring pancakes with sugar and lemon, Chloe’s eating porridge with golden syrup and cream, and Oscar’s having cornflakes with cold milk and a sliced banana. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying a double espresso with a shot of brandy and a fag…” He’s kidding about that last one – “obviously” – but it’s the first cookbook I’ve ever read that made me laugh.

    The book throws together three elements at a time – steak, cheddar and gherkins in a sandwich; parsnips, garlic and blue cheese in a soup – but what really interests me is, who writes his stuff?

    “I’m very happy to ’fess up that this is a collaborative project,” he says. “One collaborator is my head chef at River Cottage, Gill Meller. We talk about food all the time. I also have a brilliant researcher called Nikki Duffy, a food writer in her own right. That’s my core team. We meet regularly, exchange ideas, test recipes in our own kitchens, exchange emails and get back together. That is the process.”

    They don’t just send him the recipes to sign off? “No, not at all. I’m more of a control freak than that.”

    When I ask what River Cottage stands for, there is a moment like one on his show when he turns to the camera and delivers a soliloquy.

    “There is a continuum with food. At one end is the person who eats only frozen pizzas and ready-made meals. At the other is the self-sufficient person – at the extreme, the Kalahari bushman who doesn’t even cultivate crops, but just goes out there and finds a few roots to eat.

    “I’m offering people a bunch of tools with which they can move themselves along that continuum towards the Kalahari bushman. Keeping chickens, growing herbs in a window box, shopping at a farmers’ market or going to a pick-your-own once a year.”

    Now he’s breathless and loud. “My contention is that it’s a good idea. You’ll enjoy it more, your life with food will be more fun, your family will probably eat more healthily and there will be one aspect of your life – the business of what you shove in your face – that will be getting better.”

    But doesn’t all this go out of the window when times are tight? “The recession doesn’t necessarily make good food harder, for anyone who is prepared to cook.”

    Fearnley-Whittingstall didn’t go to catering college but studied theology, then psychology, at Oxford. He landed a job in west London’s fabled River Café restaurant in his twenties, but was sacked after six months.

    “I learnt how to bone a leg of lamb, clean squid and prepare fish, all that sort of stuff, but I was not as quick as others and not very good at tidying up. I was maybe having too good a time.”

    He became a food journalist, but the foundation of his career was laid in childhood. “I was my Mum’s sous chef for 10 years of dinner parties. Pastry chef as well. Lots of profiteroles and Black Forest gateaux. Food was something I could do, from the moment I made a peppermint cream.”

    I would suggest he owes his presentation skills to his father, who was an advertising copywriter. Having charmed his way on to television, the young Hugh first made his name as a TV cook who ate roadkill, or whatever came his way – including, memorably, a placenta. Has he eaten badger, the animal of the moment, target of a controversial cull?

    “I’ve, er, been offered what was alleged to be a bit of badger at a West Country cider shed party. It tasted like barbecued meat, slightly overcooked.”

    In 1997, he pitched himself as a city refugee trying to live a modern version of The Good Life in River Cottage, Dorset. Both river and cottage were left behind when his business moved to Axminster, but the name remains his trademark.

    In 2008, he made Hugh’s Chicken Run for Channel 4 in which he built a replica of a battery farm and wept at what it did to the hens. “When we started campaigning, less than 5 per cent of poultry sold in supermarkets was high welfare. It’s now 15 per cent. There is a dialogue in the industry that wasn’t happening before. That’s something I can feel proud of.”

    Next he went fishing, and was shocked by the number of fish thrown over the side of trawlers as a result of EU rules. More than 800,000 names filled his petition to have those rules changed.

    “There still isn’t a discards ban. There is one tabled, and it is under discussion.” He expects a ruling next month, and a ban of some kind next year. “It will be meaningful and it will make a difference.”

    Given all this, I spluttered into my lentils when I read that he became a campaigner because he was “fed up with the way in which businesses seem to dictate the diet to the nation”. Surely that’s what he’s trying to do, with his empire?

    “We’re fighting a rearguard action for quality,” he says. “If you hang out at the cookery school and the canteen in Axminster, it isn’t really an empire. It’s a bit more mud-around-the-ankles than that.”

    There’s a pause. “Let me be clear about one thing, though. I absolutely do want to dictate the taste of the nation. I want to change your life with food.”

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011


    You've got my vote Davie he is using fishermen and others just to feather his own nest i for one would love to slap him daft with a nice lump of rotting fish maybe we should campaign to expose him for what he really is a total shit head

  3. #3


    There's a good facebook showing of fishermen willing to stand up and be counted on HFW fishfight page, so he's not getting it all his own way the stuck up lying tosser that he is!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


    An open letter about Hugh's Fish Fight from David Linkie for this week's Fishing News:

    Hugh’s Fish Fight
    The extremely biased and negative view of scallop fishing portrayed last week on C4 Hugh’s Fish Fight displayed a total lack of responsibility on the part of Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall.
    Having been educated at Oxford University before becoming a freelance commercial journalist, surely he should be aware of the need to inform the public by presenting balanced facts, rather than trying to indoctrinate them with extremely one-sided and distorted personal opinions.
    Whilst trying to provide first-hand and well-informed articles/features for Fishing News for more than 25 years, I have had the opportunity to spend considerable time on a variety of vessels fishing scallops (as well as fisheries compliance vessels) in a number of areas around the UK, including the English Channel, Irish Sea, Isle of Man, west coast of Scotland/Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland.
    This experience has also encompassed going on sea-trials for new scallop vessels, the building of which provides valuable employment continuity for both boatyards and equipment/gear suppliers. If the seabed around Britain were as barren and desert-like as Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall conveniently portrays them to be, does he really think that bank managers would enable a skipper/owner to take on the level of long-term financial commitment required to build a new boat?
    Equally, if scallop fishing damages the seabed to the extent Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall claims, then how does he explain the fact that some of the best scallop catches continue to be taken from grounds that have been fished for over 40 years?
    The creation of loose sand sculptures decorated with pseudo sea growth, before promptly removing them with scallop and beam trawl gear towed horizontally by tractors on dry land on a sunny summer’s day, was a very cheap publicity stunt which, in the eyes of many, went a long way towards undermining much of Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall’s credibility.
    So too did the suggestion early in the programme that the CFP was being reformed as a result of his efforts. This is a total insult to the thousands of fishermen who have endured years of self-sacrifice in order to achieve long overdue reform of the CFP, as well as the unstinting efforts of equally committed association leaders and politicians.
    The UK fishing industry continues to lead from the front in terms of implementing new initiatives that are already proving highly effective in ensuring the long-term sustainability of both fishermen and the stocks on which they are reliant.
    Why was the fact that, within the last 12 months the Shetland scallop fishery has been awarded MSC accreditation, not worth a mention?
    An extremely wide raft of finely tuned management rules and technical gear measures are in place across all fisheries, but again viewers were not given an opportunity to evaluate these facts for themselves.
    Neither were they made aware of the fact that Faroese midwater trawlers, shown at the beginning of Hugh’s Fish Fight (together with Icelandic vessels), are overfishing the mackerel stock by 300,000t, with the result that the MSC accreditation achieved by Scotland. Ireland and other EU countries, together with Norway in view of their well-managed and sustainable fishery, is currently suspended. Will this oversight be corrected in the remaining two episodes?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


    SFIA response to this shyshters latest horse manure of a program

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


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    31 Mar 2012

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


    There you have it folks the REAL reason HFW puts out all of the bullshit he does, he OWNS 33% of Keo Films so this has been about the ££££ in his pocket NOTHING else

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


    Check out this page it comes up different from the one that you go onto off facebook. Other backers Adessium Foundation, The Waterloo Foundation, Balticsea 2020 and as has been named Oak foundation.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011


    Like i said feathering his own nest, scaremongering and bullshitting the general public to get his own way he's nothing without the public behind him just another crappy tv chef (although that might be an insult to real chefs being associated with that arsehole) but the public are like sheep so will always follow and believe anything he says, if its on the telly it must be right? and until the likes of Seafish or our own so called governments fisheries advisers stands up and totally discredit his bullshit he is going to continue to profit from destroying the industry

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


    FAL says Fish Fight campaign is 'misleading'
    Published: 21 February, 2013

    The Fishermen’s Association Ltd (FAL) has claimed that the Fish Fight Campaign has been 'grossly misleading'.

    Around the UK and in International waters almost 200 THOUSAND SQUARE MILES of seabed is closed to the UK fishing industry, says FAL.

    "The list is endless of closed or restricted areas both actual and potential - Marine Protected Areas, Special Areas of Conservation, Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), Sites of Special Scientific Interest, UK Real Time Closures of sea areas where there are concentrations of cod, EU Real Time Closures for juvenile cod, haddock, whiting and saithe plus all year closures such as the Windsock off the west of Scotland supposedly to protect cod, Darwin Mounds and Rockall Bank to protect cold water coral, Stanton Bank (reef features) not to mention the impact on the fishing industry of oil and gas plus green energy operations, " said Sandy Patience FAL chairman.

    "127 MCZs in English waters alone are in the pipeline under the Marine and Coastal Access Act, on top of the all the existing SACs or of all the other industry-led conservation initiatives that are underway.

    "The Scottish fishing industry is currently in dialogue with Marine Scotland to identify Marine Protected Areas as part of a UK network to meet EU requirements.

    "Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall says absolutely nothing about the effects on marine life of all the pollution, chemicals, agricultural run-off that pours into coastal waters ever year, aggregate dredging, seals etc. No, it's all down to fishermen - despite the fleet being a shadow of what it was.

    "His statement that 75% of the world's surface is ocean but that only 0.001% of that is protected is also utterly misleading as only a very small fraction of that 75% is fishable coastal shelf waters,' added Sandy Patience.

    "Does the public not care about the harm that is being done to an industry which is teetering on the edge of viability by the relentless biased pressure of “celebrities?”

    "This current campaign is just another demoralising element which threatens the livelihood of fishermen whose families have worked with nature for generations to provide food for the UK.

    "Over the last 10 years the industry has worked tirelessly with scientists and Marine Scotland and its predecessors along with responsible environmental groups in open, transparent discussions to resolve policy differences which allow us to coexist.

    "People like Mr Fearnley Whittingstall and Professor Callum Roberts preach radical conservation which if implemented would result in the seas being returned to some kind of pristine, pre-industrial era state. They don't apply this criterion to the landscape, which has of course been totally transformed by agriculture for centuries.

    "The seabed is no different from the land, it needs to be worked on and turned over to release the nutrients that sustain the whole ecosystem.

    "This current Fish Fight campaign involving a march on Westminster will only fuel the growing anger amongst hard working fishermen and their families at the gross misrepresentation of the facts. They do not deserve to be portrayed in a manner that is totally contrary to the actions they have taken and are continuing to take to protect fish stocks for future generations."

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