Andy Lynes
 food journalist and writer



22 June 2007


"People are afraid of soufflés." I've lost count of the times I've heard that deathless phrase fall from the lips of a TV chef. But how do they know home cooks are cowering in mortal fear of a roux base combined with whipped egg whites and an additional flavouring? Has a survey on the most terrifying baked puddings been conducted by the Department of Health? Did I miss the Jerry Springer "My Egg-Based Dessert Hell" special? Or is it simply that telly cooks are desperately trying to preserve their position of influence by appearing more knowledgeable and confident than their viewers?

If any telly chefs happen to be reading this, then listen up lads. I laugh in the face of soufflés. I whip my eggs to the brink of collapse; I fold my mixture with reckless abandon; I open and close my oven door during the cooking process. I'M NOT SCARED OF SOUFFLES. On the other hand, I am afraid of what I might do the next time some witless gonk tries to tell me that my fellow viewers and I are frightened of filleting fish, making risotto or cooking mussels.

Maybe I'm over reacting just a tad, but the notion that we mere mortals need A Famous Person to help us over come our culinary fears is laughably outmoded and deeply patronising. Over the last five years or so, the internet has proved that there are not only countless highly skilled amateur cooks out there, but that they are more than willing to share their expertise for free. The web has transformed our individual kitchens into a global cookery school where we're all teacher and pupil simultaneously.

Want to learn how to make paella? Go to Want to sharpen those blunt knives of yours? Then just click into the eGullet Culinary Institute at for a master class. Just what to chat about your cookery disasters? Then hang out at

Cooking is a complex thing. You can spend a lifetime learning and you'll only have covered a small area of the subject. That's partly what makes it so fascinating. Soufflé making is one of the more complicated techniques for cooks to master, but it's far from impossible. A grease-free bowl, a steady hand with the whisk, a reliable recipe and you're home and dry. It's hardly as intricate and arcane a practice as say, competitive fat carving for example (yes, chefs really do sculpt lions from lumps of lard). Now that really is something to be scared of.