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I recently heard the test-kitchen manager of a major culinary website say that when she uploads a recipe by a celebrity chef, it earns higher ratings on her website than the exact same recipe by a lesser-known recipe developer. That’s right: We cooks give the same recipe more stars when we think it was developed by a famous chef. She attributes the discrepancy to the home cook’s emotional connection to the celebrity.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, really. Our media culture thrives on celebrity endorsements. When someone has earned fame, fortune, and public adoration, we automatically connect with their products on a more intimate level. We loosen our wallets, and go into the experience —of cooking or of dining out —predisposed to like whatever the “talent” has created.
I fell into this trap recently, too, when I dined at Pizzeria Mozza in LA, co-owned by Mario Batali. Before I’d even set foot in the door, I knew I’d have a spectacular meal. And I did. But now I have to wonder: if I’d eaten the same pizza at the corner pizzeria, would I have left so completely enthralled?