What’s the first thing you think of when Gordon Ramsay comes to mind? For me, it’s this.
And I’m not mad at it. I think Gordon has perfected his celebrity chef persona – in the current crop, everyone has a very specific domain. Mario is modern Italian, Nigella is sultry, Ina is Hamptons cozy, Rachel is relatable, Jamie is energetic, Bobby Flay is a griller, Anthony Bourdain is broody, and Gordon Ramsay is hot tempered. One-name celebrity chefs like this live in a rarified world: they can do as many reality shows as they like without debasing their brand.
Tilly is perfectly situated to be the first of her generation to break out as a celebrity chef; she has the pedigree, the hands-on training at home and access to all the equipment, ingredients and kitchen support she would need. Her father is also increasingly successful – you can’t turn on the TV without seeing Gordon Ramsay threatening to rip someone’s balls off, which has netted him a Beyonce-level payday.
Her father also does a great job of managing his celebrity while being friends with two very big celebrities, the Beckhams, and Gordon Ramsay conquered American around the same time – they are part of the same era, and now their kids will be too. The children – 8 between the two families – spend time together and Brooklyn and Jack seem to be particularly close. David, Victoria, Gordon and his wife Tana double-date and I’ve always wondered what that looks like. I imagine Victoria and Gordon are the more boisterous ones, but do you think he gives her sh-t for always ordering salmon and steamed greens? When they travel by private plane, who’s acting as the disciplinarian? Do the kids talk business, comparing Instagram likes and chatting about brand building?
In the mix of all next-genners (including the Beckhams, Smiths, Gerbers), a teenage celebrity chef completely makes sense to me. When I was coming of age, cooking was not considered aspirational. Making dinner was very unhip – remember how on Sex and the City, Carrie was the ultimate city girl because she kept shoes in her oven and a trait of Charlotte’s lame-ness was her muffin-making? This is how cooking was treated in pop culture for a very long time.
But with the rise of the 24/7 Food Network, primetime cooking shows, urban farmers’ markets, widely available organic product lines, artisanal trends and celebrity cookbooks, the consummation of food is now a marker of status. You can show off where you eat and, more important, what you eat, on Instagram. Spending $16 on a stovetop espresso and gourmet donut says the same thing as a new pair of shoes, just in a different tone.
Status is a language teens speak fluently, and we’ve seen the result of that in a growing number of “kid” version cooking shows and even a few bonafide chefs (this 2014 Teen Vogue article kills me – of course Flynn started a supperclub at age 12). There is a space and interest for Tilly to be a trailblazer and introduce a new genre: Teen Celebrity Chef.
And in 10 years, Apple may be calling herself a lucky motherf-cker for having dinner with Tilly.