Food Network star visits Mount Royal University for book signing

Canadians are not cooking anymore and the food media is to blame, according to one of the Food Network’s superstars, Chef Michael Smith. But, with his new book, Smith is trying to get people picking up their pots and pans again.

In a recent speech at Mount Royal University’s Leacock theatre, Smith said, “I meet people all the time who tell me ‘I can’t cook.’ I won’t let you say that in my presence. You may choose not to cook, but you absolutely can cook because you are a human being.”

Nevertheless, Smith suggested that the food media – including his own channel – scares people off of cooking because of an unreachable perfection.

“You see it on the network. You see it in magazines. The perfect recipe, the perfect technique, the perfect tool, the perfect kitchen,” he said.

“It sets up this idea that ‘If it’s perfect, well cooking has got to be hard. Perfection! That scares me!’ And failure is right around the corner.”

But Smith also expressed concern that these cooking shows allow non-cookers to vicariously experience the “thrill” of cooking.

“Leave the stress and the strain for perfection to the chefs. They are very well paid for that,” he said, advising audience members that home cooks should just try to “get food on the table.”

To meet that goal, Smith wants his fans to find a cooking style that’s unique to them – to give them his cooking style as an example to handle the time-crunched lifestyle that all home cooks have to face.

Fans lining up at Mount Royal University in front of the bookstore for a chance to meet Michael Smith and get their new copy of his latest book – Fast Flavours – signed.

Photo by Kaity Brown

In fact, he says his new book – Fast Flavours – is an attempt to share with the reader “all those crazy, silly, little fast lessons that you learn as a professional chef.”

“It sort of dates back to my understanding of what it’s like being an actual real home cook and the fact is we all need fast solutions,” Smith said, adding that he is “just as busy as everyone else when it comes time to get dinner on the table.”

Smith the consequences of not getting dinner on your table can be severe. The rates of diabetes, Celiac disease and other health complications are increasing exponentially.

“The fact is that too many of us are making too many poor decisions around food and we’re making ourselves sick,” Smith said. “The fact is the rest of the world, especially the medical community in the rest of the world, they scratch their heads and say ‘what?’”

“The words I’m leaving you with are, quite simply, it’s not optional. We still have to cook. Even if we think we are busy or sick or ‘I don’t know how cook.’ Whatever you think it is, you still have to do it.”

kbrown@cjournal.ca