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If food is the new sex…here’s a sexy chef – Cracco on GQ Italy

A “Sex food and rock’n’roll” headline? Naked models showing perk bottoms next to chopped vegetables? Top chefs in soft porn poses? [come on we all know you’d LOVE Ben Spalding on one of those ;)] This is pure F-world territory so I’m taking you to my native Italy for a glimpse on the state of the art. Which art exactly (whether glossy  photography, gastronomy or PR) we may debate…and we will.

cracco gq cover

DId you see something fishy?

Whilst my writer’s block post-Asia trip continues, I am not leaving you without some tasty news from the F-World. Today, a juicy (should I say saucy as well?) piece of news came from my fellow Italian foodie twitterati – the wires were abuzz with controversy around a GQ Italia cover starring 2-Michelin-stars chef Carlo Cracco, a tuxedo and… some sea bream. Oh, and a fully naked model (which becomes two naked models in the 6-page spread). The fish is just the starter- and may I amuse you with an anecdote on how the Italian word for fish (pesce) is also used as a reference to the male sexual organ? Not so covert a reference on the GQ cover where the tall dark handsome – and fully clothed- Mr. Cracco has it placed to cover his crotch by a lustful “curvy” (think GQ-curvy, so not a size 14) brunette.

I am waiting for some kind Italian friend to send me either a copy or a scan or the article, so I won’t discuss its literary or journalistic merits. Anyway, what’s interesting here is the unanimous criticism, and often contempt, which Cracco’s appearance has sparked in the blogosphere. Without too much detail about the Italian blogger scene which probably won’t be of interest for UK readers- headlines and posts range from mildy sarcastic (see Dissapore) to scathing (see for example this post from Acidorsa). Take my word for it if you don’t read Italian, but the tone is uniformly negative and both bloggers and their readers in the comments deplore the stunt as “bad taste”, “megalomany”, “sad error” etc.etc. Not to mention the obvious misogyny angle…sex sells, objectified women etc.

gq cracco sexy chef

Giving “fresh produce” a whole new meaning

Where do I stand? As much as this may sound pharisaic, I am intrigued and can’t make up my mind on whether this is good or bad. I find the photos quite interesting; but then, I also LOVED  the controversial Terry Richardson “models and food” shoot for VOGUE Italia (check it out on Pinterest). Maybe because one of the very first thing I learned about popular culture in the UK is that “The Naked Chef” wasn’t a cheap porn movie; maybe because I find Micheal Roux Jr. very sexy (yes, even when he jogs around Paris shopping for antique books in french and eating millefeuille a’ la framboise, which is both a bit gay AND Grandad-style).  Maybe I just have an incurable case of bad taste in men, magazines and food- in addition to not be a good member of the universal sisterhood? Truth is, I am not shocked or outraged- maybe just a bit bored. 

In Italian press and TV, naked women are ubiquitous (did you miss the delightful story where showgirl Belen Rodriguez showed her “little butterfly” in a prime time family oriented show?) so the feature appears much less original and daring when put in context. In fact, I think the Italian media industry is suffering from a big nakedness indigestion (or hangover, as you prefer).

gq cracco celebrity chef

Also, this brought back to my attention the debate on whether the career of a chef (or even more tricky, the success as a “top chef”) is almost exclusively a male domain- I still remember a silly article on the Telegraph which depicted the welcome addition of female chefs like Skye Gyngell to the Michelin rank as a battle of “emotional cooking (you guessed it- female) vs love of gadgets (AKA boys and their toys”.  I am not a chef worshipper expert so the whole debate is too complex for me to express half a meaningful opinion, but undoubtedly there IS a touch of excess testosterone in most discussions about food and food makers. Bosigate aside (where lots of “penis waggling” went on, as one Twitter friend appropriately put it)- you know, that type of steak&wishey combo for man , gin&cake for girls (read an excellent post on this by Melissa Foodie here). Personally, I’ll have steak over cake any time and swap gin or whiskey for wine; I am annoyed by Nigella- style sexual innuendo when making or consuming food; and apart for my faiblesse for the impossibly perfect Roux Jr. I really don’t care whether great food and brilliant restaurants come from someone looking like Michael Fassbender or like Mr. Bean. And the GQ Italy cover strikes me only as a brilliant PR move from Cracco’s agent, possibly to refresh the image of his restaurant (which is a Milan style epitome: business-oriented, severely styled  and impossibly good) and give it a “sexy” spin with younger, hippier target like the GQ readers.

However, one may argue why, in going all the way down the “food sex and rock’n’roll” route, we weren’t shown Carlo Cracco himself as “the meat” in the feature- naked (or cleverly appearing so). What we have instead is a nice looking, but not strikingly original glossy magazine feature where the guy looks very much the part- the chef in all his aura of mystique and glory- and female models look like food-styling props- because that is what they are here, gorgeous, healthy and happy-looking, but still silent and decorative props. The era of the sexy chef is still to come…

What do you think of the Carlo Cracco for GQ feature? Sexy, kitsch, offensive or boring?


Photo credits: GQ Italia via Dissapore; naked chef pic via Do The Green Thing



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  1. haha very amusing post. I don’t see anythign wrong with it tbh, maybe coming from art school, nothing really surprises. if it were for a food mag aimed at housewives/families, it might be a bit off, but it’s in GQ, so, oh well. don’ find him very sexy though hehe.

    • Thanks. it was meant to be amusing and not serious.
      In fact, I don’t even know why people take these things so seriously.
      As you said, it’s GQ, and we’re in 2012, so it’s really nothing special…

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