Celebrity food partnerships and cookbooks usually don’t excite me in that I want to run out and try it – even when it involves Beyoncé. Especially when it involves Tom Brady. But today is a new today because Twitter MVP Chrissy Teigen is partnering with Blue Apron on a six week run of recipes. This makes sense because: Chrissy Teigen and food. Her first book, Cravings, was a massive hit and her second book, Cravings 2, will be released in September. And Chrissy is not a fly-by-night celebrity lifestyle chef – she attended a condensed program at the French Culinary Institute and she has an old blog that incorporates her pure adoration for all things bacon (part of her I-don’t-give-a-f-ck charm is that she can’t be bothered to take down a WordPress site she hasn’t updated in ages).
Beyond that, she cooks constantly. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter and you will see a steady rotation of kitchen assignments and grocery lists. This is not a vanity project -- no one would risk taking a Tupperware container of scalloped potatoes through airport security for Instagram. And she also includes her mom, who lives with her, and does all the dishes on the weekend, something my mom does as well. (Why don’t moms trust dishwashers?)
Because cooking is such an integral part of her life, Blue Apron is not a cash grab or trend investment, more likely a pilot project. The recipes she picked will have some real flavour - sesame chicken and chipotle-lime chicken (she has the absolute best recipe for this) and a pork banh mi. So many celebrity food influencers try to replicate recipes and flavour profiles they don’t appreciate or understand (that’s how you end up with lime on dimsum) or make something healthy by subbing out a key ingredient, like soya sauce or fish sauce, creating “faux” recipes that are meant to mimic the real deal. Chrissy doesn’t do that.
Food appropriation is as complex an issue as cultural appropriation because it isn’t just about what people make in their kitchens or share with their family and friends, but rather how words like elevating/ reimagining/ artisanal/ deconstructed are used to imply that the food of “other” cultures needs to be finessed in order to be worthy of a sleek restaurant or top dollar. Celebrities like Chrissy Teigen (and other top sellers like Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jessica Seinfeld, and Food Network chefs) drive larger conversations around what food is deemed “good” and worthy of our usage.
Food is interesting because it’s necessary but in our culture, it can easily veer towards gluttonous and frivolous. The thing I like about Chrissy is that she strikes a balance in satisfaction and practicality in her recipes, and isn’t trying to do phở for dummies in order to sell more books. Personally, I’m only saddened that I can’t get Chrissy Teigen’s meal plan where I live. If you can’t either, or if you aren’t a believer, try this recipe this weekend. Trust me, you will be a Chrissy convert if you aren’t already.