Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, celebrated TV chef, smallholder, and real food campaigner admitted last night his ‘entire professional life had been a sham’, after being outed as a rampant meat-hating vegetarian by a disgruntled Channel 4 cameraman who had been refused an extra helping of Hugh’s classic ‘home slaughtered steak and kidney pudding’ after a long day’s filming at River Cottage.
Fearnley-Whittingstall, whose no nonsense back-to-basics approach to rearing livestock from birth to dinner plate has made him a foodies’ favourite, was forced to confess his vegetarianism after the cameraman revealed that Hugh was so repulsed by eating meat that the TV production company had to employ both mouth and stomach doubles for the shots when Hugh appears to consume and enjoy the product of his labours.
Writer Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, the celebrity chef’s mother, confirmed that the allegations were true. ‘Even as a child, Hugh was a picky eater.’ she said. ‘As a three year old, his staple diet was cottage cheese and spam. He wouldn’t eat anything else until he was five, when he dropped the spam and replaced it with cheesy wotsits; which he is still passionate about.’
The scruffy old Etonian reflected that he had never really enjoyed flesh since his school days when he used to share fags with future Tory leader David Cameron behind the Rolls sheds. ‘My vegetarianism is something that I’ve managed to hide quite well over the years. I used to pretend to myself that I could keep my carrot crunching characteristics at arms length. But it’s not been easy. I must admit that I was physically sick when we filmed the sequence of me teaching that slummy city girl to wring the neck of a chicken and that was just at the sight of the chavvy girl.’
Fearnley-Whittingstall’s new series ‘Return to Cottage Cheese’ starts on Channel 4 next month and features Hugh extolling the virtues of good courgette husbandry and showing viewers how to humanely pick a cabbage. A spokesman for Channel 4 said ‘There will be no change to the format of this ever popular show. Hugh will be cooking the same classic meat and two veg dishes. But without the meat bit, obviously.’