Happy Birthday ‘Floydy’
Ten Years on and we still remember the late, great, TV Chef, Keith Floyd.
A decade has passed since Keith Floyd died.
‘Floydy’ as he liked to be known was the celebrated chef who revolutionised TV cookery programmes but as the years go by, his name fades and it seems to me that he is only remembered by those of us who are old enough to have enjoyed his wonderful cookery shows.
Floyd was a great influence on me and inspired my novel, Coffee Tea the Chef and Me.
Year on year, cookery on television and the internet continues to dominate our screens, creating new stars in the kitchen and legions of adoring fans. But in the early days, Keith Floyd inspired a generation to cook when he took his cookery road show out of the studio and around the world. He delighted us with what was then, a relatively new way of viewing – cooking on location. This set the tone and paved the way for the TV chefs that we know and love today.
Floyd travelled extensively and by meeting the locals he understood the dedication required to create some of the wonderful dishes that he demonstrated so passionately. He bought world cuisine into our own kitchens and made food fun. He was the Oliver Reed of cooking, invariably with a glass of wine in his hand and a wealth of knowledge and witticism to share with his viewers. Floyd drew recipe inspiration from the places that he visited and delighted in sharing this knowledge with his audience.
Floyd entertained us with hilarious episodes of cooking in extreme conditions, in far-flung locations. One of my favourite clips is Floyd cooking on an ostrich farm in South Africa where everything goes wrong as the ostriches take over.
In today’s world of political correctness, Floyd may have struggled. His ‘devil may care’ attitude might be offensive today, when he glorified the pleasure of alcohol and tobacco and whatever else took his fancy. Personally, I found it refreshing, whether or not you agree with the virtues of his philosophy.
The last programme made about Floyd was called, Keith on Keith, a documentary for Channel Four and was hosted by the actor, Keith Allen, in 2009. In all the years that I have written about Floyd, I have omitted mentioning this show because I think it degrades the chef in his final days. It portrays Floyd as a damaged drunk, despite attempts to include a positive spin in the last scenes. It is very uncomfortable viewing and poles apart from footage of programmes where Floyd, the charming host, made cooking the new rock and roll when he bounced onto our screens.
Love him or loathe him, Floyd was an enigmatic and charismatic man who was instrumental in educating us in all manner of cooking at a time when we had limited options to discover global cuisine. For many, myself included, Keith Floyd will always be fondly remembered.
In Floyd’s words, ‘Food is life and life is food.’ But he also added, ‘If you don’t like my approach, you are welcome to go to Macdonalds.’
Keith Floyd 15th September 1943 – 15th September 2009