Book Review: The Angry Chef by Anthony Warner

I first came across the Angry Chef on Twitter. Somebody had tweeted about a new blog, written in secret, by an shouty, ranty, ‘stick it to the man’ author who was putting their boot into the world of clean eating that you just had to read. One tweeted link became two became three; each seeming to make ever greater proclamations of grandeur that it was brilliant that somebody had finally stuck their head above the parapet and taken on the growing world of food trends, Instagram photos and unrealistic diet claims.

Now of course, my anorexic mind was instantly piqued. When you starve your body, your brain cries out for food, twisting your life to revolve around nothing else. Hoping you might just pick up the hint and eat. You consume food in every form you can besides it’s physical self. Becoming through pour saturation the most dangerous of all things: an uneducated expert. Proclaiming a forensic knowledge and interest in all things food born purely out of your own minds disregarded cries for sustenance and survival. So of course, whether I’d agree with it or not, any side to any debate on food will have me clicking and reading.

What I found with the Angry Chef blog was a world of aggression and frustration that felt completely at odds with what my mind wanted to hear. It’s hard to explain properly, after all I’m educated and, I’d like to think, I’m intelligent enough to realise eating fresh grass mixed with goji berries will not detox the inner workings of my body; or that starting the day with a refreshing green smoothie – made, of course, using 600 unprocessed, natural and ethically sourced ingredients – served on a paint flaked table next to half a tree and lit by the first rays of the morning sunshine will not kick start my metabolism into a monster calorie burning powerhouse. But having somebody speak so plainly and strongly against the ideals these lifestyles promote just left me uneasy. My mind doesn’t believe their creators really live and follow the perfect instagram lives they portray but it didn’t want somebody pointing out just how false they were either. The result of the blogs bluntness was that I never lingered long – it was like hearing your own voice: you can only take a few seconds of it before it all gets too much, and you have to switch off.

Since then the Angry Chef blog has grown and grown and, from a seemingly uneducated position, become more commercial as the backlash against the growth of more and more unscientific and unproven dietary lifestyles gathers momentum. It’s reached a point where it’s almost the fashionable stance now to declare those still eating kale and quinoa salads to be idiots as you flick along their Instagram feed while drinking your special edition spiced caramel latte that the media has told you will kill you with it’s 94g of sugar! So, it’s no surprise that the Angry Chef has left the digital world and turned paper – publishing a book. And, it’s no surprise, as my mind still likes to debate food arguments, that it bought a copy.

As explained, I’ve never read more than a few words of the blog before zoning out, so, while I knew the book would argue the case against the world of ‘bad science and healthy eating’ (as the cover proclaims) how deep and how substantiated these arguments would be was a mystery. What I found was a book, that while born out of an obvious and passionate hatred for it’s target, has been reigned back in to the point of clipping the wings of the argument Anthony Warner (The Angry Chef) wants to make. Too often while debunking myths, false truths and plain dangerous lies, the book just fails to go as far as I got the feeling Warner really wanted to. Instead the book descended at time into nothing more than a “he said she said” drone where an unsubstantiated claim from a health “guru” was countered by a quick reference to a scientific study that simply “found no evidence”.

Worse than this apparently vocal straight jacketing is that Warner is also obviously aware that he’s got to keep this scientific in order to keep it above reproach. That the book is not a personal platform for the soapbox rant lurking in the background and that I’m sure, we’d all much prefer. This means that portions, and especially the middle third, descend into lengthy explanations of other people work and scientific theories. Dense paragraphs moving the book further and further away from it’s initial target – the clean eating detox diet world – and further and further into the general world of science. Debunking individual food ideas replaced by lengthy explanations to the psychological science that allows people to be manipulated tearing all the pace from the narrative as tight argument descends into scientific malaise and glutenous waffle.

The book certainly achieves its intended objective. It easily looks at the numerous diets and detoxes being pushed through social media, where they came from, how the grew and the techniques used to twist their implausible foundations into lingering arguments of truth. And it will leave you with no doubt that whatever faith you may place in them, science can do nothing but disprove them as being based on, at best little and often myoptically skewed evidence, while at worse dangerous invented nonsense. In the world we currently live in, where food, diet, nutrition and illness are being tied together more and more and the lifestyle choices we make becoming more judgements and externally influenced Warner book is definitely worth reading – because every argument and debate needs both sides to be heard. Just understand, as you turn the opening pages, that sadly, this side of the debate is orated in a way that is more about taking twenty words to say “your wrong” than using two to explain “because this is why I’m right…”

Posted on by 5WC in Book First Edition

Comments are closed.