A quest to find New Zealand’s most crack up celebrity chef

Calum Henderson reckons New Zealand has the most celebrity chefs per capita. Here, he tries to find the funniest. 

There are few things I love more in this life than taking a celebrity chef’s name in vain and using it to roast the living hell out of my nearest and dearest. It goes like this: someone posts a pic to their Insta story of some exotic wild mushrooms they’ve foraged. I hit reply and type the first thing that pops into my head.

“Sorry Yotam Ottolenghi.”

Send. Seen. No reply. Don’t care! If this is the price I must pay for my art then so be it. Keep scrolling.

What’s this? Somebody else has posted a pic of them eating at a restaurant any fancier than say a McDonald’s? “Woah! Sorry Rick Stein.”

“It was my birthday.” “This was our first meal out since the baby was born.” “I work for Metro, this is my job.” “Stop cyber bullying me.”

Look, Mum. I’ll tell you the same thing I tell everybody else. It’s not cyber-bullying because it’s funny. 

The funniest celebrity chefs to say in these scenarios are always New Zealand celebrity chefs. I don’t really know why that is, and I don’t really know what makes some inherently funnier than others either. Maybe if I rank all the ones I can think of from least to most funny, we might be able to get to the bottom of it?

17) Simon Gault

Just not a very funny name. Sorry!

16) Nadia Lim

Too mainstream, too ubiquitous, too obvious.

15) Jax Hamilton

If the person you’re roasting knows who Jax Hamilton is then this one could absolutely rock – otherwise too niche.

14) Josh Emett

Don’t know what to tell ya. Nothing about Josh Emett tickles my funny bone.

Josh Emett on The Cafe

13) Peter Gordon

Still not laughing.

12) Karena and Kasey Bird

Good if somebody posts about how much they love cooking with their sibling I guess. But too many syllables.

11) Hudson and Halls

“Sorry Hudson and Halls!” could be good if you spot two male friends in the kitchen, but personally I wouldn’t. Just feels like thin ice.

10) Michael van de Elzen

Hosted New Zealand’s funniest ever cooking show where he went around trying to ‘improve’ other cultures’ cuisines. But the name itself is a bit of a mouthful.

9) Lionel Skeggins

Not a celebrity chef per se, but would be so funny if you ever saw someone holding a tray of muffins that I’ve got to include him.

8) Ray McVinnie

Fun name to say. Seems to have the perfect meter for this specific purpose.

7) Jo Seagar

Please God please let Jo Seagar make a TV comeback.

6) Chelsea Winter

Nice roast lamb you’ve made there.

5) Peta Mathias

Nice Mediterranean salad you’ve made there.

4) Al Brown

Nice bagel you’ve made there.

3) Alison Holst

Nice banana bread you’ve made there.

2) Annabel Langbein

Nice Central Otago stone fruit preserve you’ve made there.

1) Allyson Gofton

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Conceptually the funniest New Zealand celebrity chef, no question. Always so under the pump to get the Food in a Minute ready before the news. That’s all of us in the kitchen, really, and there’s nothing funnier to me than tearing into someone’s hastily assembled weekday dinner with a “sorry Allyson Gofton.”

I think the real question we should be asking ourselves here is: what makes some funnier than others? Partly it’s just the way the name sounds on the lips – ideally I reckon you want a classic four or five syllables, the right mix of hard and soft consonants and vowels. A celebrity chef is also more likely to be inherently funny if they have a ‘thing’, rather than just being generally good at cooking.

Apart from that there’s no real rhyme or reason to it. Most of the time it just depends on the situation at hand. Trust your gut and go with the first thing that pops into your head. 


The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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