The food writer and author Ruby Tandoh has announced that she is leaving her position at the Guardian newspaper. In a series of tweets, she announced that the “circles of food hell are heinous,” and that “the stuff that makes the headlines again and again is toxic and elitist and supported by truly rotten foundations.”
Tandoh’s “Ruby Bakes” column ran in the paper from December 2013 until November 2015, following her appearance on the BBC’s Great British Bake Off. She recently rejoined as a columnist for “Feast,” the paper’s weekly food magazine featuring contributions by Rachel Roddy, Grace Dent, Felicity Cloake and others. More interestingly and importantly, Tandoh released Eat Up: Food, Appetite, and Eating What You Want in February 2018, examining food’s intersectional relationship with class and race and its necessarily political implications. The book is notable for its compassion and its effort to recast food as a positive, inclusive, joyful thing. Eat Up followed Crumb: The Baking Book and Flavour: Eating What You Want.
Tandoh has gained fame for her seeming fearlessness in advocating for marginalised groups in food, as well as being willing to directly call out public figures, which is consistent with the reasoning in her public statement today. In June 2017 she called out Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and (a little less surprisingly, perhaps) Paul Hollywood for their silence on the upcoming general election, reflecting on writers who remained silent because they “don’t want to lose out on a couple of tories buying their cookbook.”
In the announcement on Twitter today, she wrote: “i’ve quit my guardian recipe column! the circles of food hell are heinous: g*les c*ren [Times restaurant critic, Giles Coren] in the stinking depths, rich people slagging off convenience foods all around, professional fatphobes at every level and not a scruple in sight. i really tried, but i’m out.”
Food writer and Eater contributor, James Hansen, subsequently pointed out the sorry reality of an industry that was unable to find a place for a voice like Tandoh’s: “A food media that can’t accommodate a voice as eloquent, compassionate, generous, honest and joyful as Ruby’s needs to ask itself some serious questions.”