Industry figures are split on whether the current spate of hospitality-related TV programmes portray a good image of the industry.
With shows such as Marco Pierre White‘s Hell's Kitchen pulling in between three and four million viewers a night and Raymond Blanc's The Restaurant attracting two million, hospitality has become mainstream entertainment.
Nigella Express and Jamie at Home compete for the consumer chef market, while Kitchen Criminals has brought Angela Hartnett and John Burton Race wider acclaim. Hotels have not been left out, with Ruth Watson's Hotel Inspector returning to Five.
Jamal Hirani, chief executive at Tiffinbites, said the trend could only help the hospitality industry both in terms of recruitment and bums on seats. "As a restaurateur I think it's fantastic as it enables us to recruit good people into the industry. It's seen as hard work but with a bit of glamour," he said. "Consumers who get enthusiastic about hospitality programmes are more likely to eat out more. They see diners enjoying themselves on TV and want to have more of that experience."
But Steve Wilkins, managing director at Little Gems Country Dining, warned that national TV exposure was good only if the industry was portrayed in a positive light, rather than as a pure entertainment tool.
"Certainly from a kitchen perspective, when you're seen as a male-dominated, testosterone-fuelled environment, anything that can change that and attract the right kind of people is a good thing," he said. "One of the things that concerns me more is hospitality TV shows for TV's sake rather than being a worthwhile exercise."
Andy Aston, supervising chef at Restaurant Associates, the fine-dining arm of Compass and Springboard award winner for training and recruiting young people into the industry, agreed, singling out Kitchen Criminals as a format that was unrewarding and didn't reflect the industry in a strong light.
By Christopher Walton
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