The rant: Where have the heroes gone?

The rant: Where have the heroes gone?

By Tim Hayward

Outrageous excess in food and drink was once a hallmark of fame, but these days so-called celebrities have swapped caviar for raw carrots, and vintage Bolly for purified water. What happened to the real stars?


The only ‘celebrities’ I hold in high regard are those who were giants among men. Orson Welles weighed in at 275lbs at his fighting best and would often eat two porterhouse steaks, a dozen eggs and a plate of biscuits… for breakfast. Marlon Brando’s body double had to be used for long shots after his gut-busting lunches. The film director Ken Russell ate caviar out of the tin and once, deeming the waiter’s offering inferior, used it to shine his shoes. Robert Mitchum stank out hotel suites with his fine cheese collection. Vincent Price wrote cookbooks inspired by his visits to the best restaurants, and Ernest Hemingway had cocktails and dishes named after him in five-star hotels wordwide. Then there was Elvis: ahh, Elvis…

Proper celebrities had money and fame and used them to indulge the greatest of pleasures: eating and drinking. But these days, slebs are so obsessed with their appearance, so effete, they treat themselves with the exaggerated care of seasoned neurotics. They meditate, they sit mindfully as they munch on raw food, they ‘go paleo’ and perform yogic contortions in steamy rooms – and we, their audience, indulge the nonsense. The tacky celeb mags no longer print stories of rock stars falling out of limos after heroic acts of self-pollution. Instead they pap them in health food shops or leaving the gym in a glow of smug healthiness. It’s enough to send you howling to the nearest burger joint.

Any idiot can be abstemious. I want celebrities to do something to which I can only aspire; to treat themselves to massive luxury – to obscene and decadent levels of wild self-indulgence. If some tortured young actor really wants to ‘irrigate’ his colon to loosen a surfeit of kale and quinoa, that’s something he should be discussing with his therapist instead of foisting such neuroses on the public.

It really riles me when this nonsense strikes closer to home: the food and drink shelves of my local bookshop. It used to be a place where I could be safe from the tyranny of healthy eaters but, looking along the spines now, everyone seems to have published a book on raw food, juicing or ‘bone broth’, or is trying to flog me a piece of equipment that promises to enhance my life by reducing my dinner to a juice, a nutritive slurry or (please God, no) weird spirals.

No. If I’m looking for a lifestyle guru, there’s only one celebrity I’d turn to. Once, on a fishing trip, Hemingway was about to land a giant tuna when a smallish shoal of sharks decided to attack his dinner ahead of him. He stood up on the deck and shot them all with a tommy gun. This was a man who, if he ate kale at all, would never have juiced it or spiralised it. He would have employed a big knife – or possibly just a fork. I’m pretty sure he never meditated – on anything other than how dry his next martini should be, at least. And as far as we know, no one ever suggested Ernest Hemingway stick a hose up his bottom… no one who lived to tell the tale, anyway.

Do you agree with Tim or do you take a different view? Let us know in the comments.

More to discover

Subscribe to our magazine

Food stories, skills and tested recipes, straight to your door... Enjoy 5 issues for just £5 with our special introductory offer.


Unleash your inner chef

Looking for inspiration? Receive the latest recipes with our newsletter

We treat your data with care. See our privacy policy. By signing up, you are agreeing to delicious.’ terms and conditions. Unsubscribe at any time.