I read this article about foodie culture and the cult of the chef recently and it amused me to reflect on the idea that a culture that glorifies chefs is a culture in decline. Over time many professions have transcended the artistic and intellectual divide between artisan and artist.

In our culture chefs are perhaps the most recent occupation to shift in social status. Hair stylists have flirted with artistic status, but have perhaps wisely retreated to artisan status. Fashion designers seem entrenched as artists now. More concerning, for me, has been the emergence of the cult of the DJ. It will take no effort at all I am sure to antagonise many people when I suggest that DJs are mere artisans, not artists.

I do find the cult of following chefs from restaurant to restaurant absurd, but then I’m not a real foodie. The cult of the artist as a individual, not a nameless artisan, emerged during the Italian renaissance. We can thank Giorgio Vasari for defining the term ‘renaissance’ and for more or less inventing the discipline of art history (but not the piano key neck tie). We may also be thankful that Vasari wrote the lives of the artists, not the lives of the chefs…

from artisan to artist

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *