Public servants in Spain have a well-justified reputation for arriving late at appointments. Whether local, regional or national, it is mystery why they are invited to anything involving food, cooking and gastronomy. Looking back it is difficult to think of any contribution they have made in this field - quite the reverse in fact: the catering school fiasco that left hundreds of students without classes for years was a direct result of politicians' in-fighting. So perhaps it is the cooks who should be educating the political class.
Spanish chef José Andrés (18 restaurants) cancelled a contract with the Trump organisation to open a new restaurant in a Washington hotel when the president referred to all Mexicans as rapists and delinquents. Andrés stated at the time that half his employees were Mexican and so were many of his clients. Gordon Ramsay (33 restaurants) led a campaign to stop illegal shark fishing in Costa Rica, and while accompanying a film crew was captured and soaked in petrol. Jamie Oliver (50 restaurants) has not let up in decades on his campaign to improve the nutritional value of food in Britain's schools. Sarah Weiner, known as the German Jamie Oliver, with TV programmes and books, fights unceasingly to educate German youth on obesity. Hatem El-Gamasy, Egyptian owner of the Lotus Deli in Queens, USA, has a studio at the back of the shop to which he goes daily to participate in a political chat show. The show courts controversy in its highly-critical attitude towards the Egyptian government.
Anthony Bourdain was interviewed in New York last week on TimesTalk TV, but he did not contain his anger when accused of criticising politics and politicians. “What could be more socially significant than food?” the highly-respected chef who is a spokesman for the campaign against food waste universally, shot back.
There are clearly many chefs prepared to get involved in politics, but are there politicians prepared to do much more than turn up at gastronomic events - for obvious reasons?