The editor of Waitrose magazine has been defending his decision to bring Pippa Middleton in to write a recipe column called 'Pippa's Friday Night Feasts'. Her first column comes out next week, and William Sitwell told Siren FM in Lincoln he expected "the usual flurry of abuse from newspapers and food bloggers."
He certainly got what he was expecting. So was this signing money well spent?
DefenceSitwell made the comments in an interview with the radio station, where he said that her critics were "jealous that they haven't got columns". He added that the column works well as part of the broad mix of content, which also includes celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi and up-and-coming cooking stars. He said: "When people see the work that she's doing, they'll calm down."
AttackThe critics didn't wait for the first column to be out before sharpening their claws. The Daily Express led with the headline 'Don't knock Pippa Middleton, she's as talented as a Cordon Bleu chef!'
The Daily Mail reported on the interview, running a children's party recipe of Middleton's alongside a restaurant dish of Ottolenghi and inviting readers to judge for themselves whether she was as talented a chef as he is. It's an interesting choice, given that 'witches' fingers cheese straws' are unlikely to be compared directly to 'cod cakes in a tomato sauce' in any other environment.
Money well spent?There will be those who remain convinced that Middleton is employed for her connections, and there's no justification for billing her as an expert offering advice on food. When her role was announced, the critics were out in force, and Waitrose fans took to Twitter to voice their concerns. @mrjamesob said: "Pippa Middleton secures cooking column in Waitrose mag with no qualifications/experience, proving that raw talent can conquer all obstacles." While @BryanAppleyard said: "Pippa Middleton to write for Waitrose mag. Sainsburys has no choice but to throw money at Scarlett Johansson."
However, there will be others who argue that she has a background in party planning, and being entertained takes up a large proportion of her time and energy - so she will have picked something up. Sitwell points out that she is a good cook, and isn't afraid to admit that the fact she's attractive doesn't hurt either.
For Sitwell this is likely to be money well spent. The next issue of Waitrose magazine is plastered with Middleton's face, the papers, blogs and news websites are filled with free publicity. Even the coverage of this interview is being tweeted and re-tweeted.
It's safe to say that this is the sort of excitement that Delia and her undisputed culinary brilliance was never able to muster.