Advice We Got From Celebrity Chefs That You Should Totally Avoid

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Among the celebrity class, chefs have a uniquely comfortable and familiar relationship with their fans. Actors and musicians make us swoon, athletes awe us, and world leaders inspire us, but chefs? They seem like old friends or relatives who we'd literally invite into our kitchens. Much like those old friends and relatives, these culinary stars build a relationship of trust with us over time to the point where we treat their words of wisdom with credulity.

Even the most reliable pal occasionally makes a flub, however: a blind date set-up that turns out horribly, a movie or TV recommendation that makes your brain atrophy. These nuggets of non-wisdom stand out in our memory precisely because they're so rare. Celebrity chefs are no different: Sometimes they over-salt the main dish or undercook the dessert. And sometimes they dole out tips that are pure idiocy. Keep reading for examples of must-avoid advice from celebrity chefs who should really have known better.

Nigella Lawson: Put a fried egg on wilted lettuce

Some classic dishes just don't need deconstruction. Nobody was clamoring for a radical take on the Caesar salad, which has served humanity perfectly well to this point. Leaves of romaine lettuce coated in an egg yolk-based dressing and topped with crispy croutons — simple, tasty perfection! 

Nevertheless, for some unknown reason, English culinary goddess Nigella Lawson felt compelled to offer to the world her "riff" on the Caesar salad, one that involved ... baking the lettuce? And putting a fried egg on top of it? Did she temporarily lose her mind? As The Independent reported, with typical British understatement, the recipe "caused outrage" when Lawson debuted it on her TV show Simply Nigella. BBC News Editor Anisa Subedar summed up everyone's feelings with one withering tweet: "Fried egg over burnt lettuce with fish bits and toast. Home economics lessons were wasted on Nigella."

Paula Deen: More butter, baby!

This one was a no-brainer. The most avoidable piece of advice given by Food Network star Paula Deen also happens to be the one most famously associated with her: that virtually any recipe can be improved with a copious amount of butter. Deen's attitude toward the fatty dairy product is summed up in a video posted to her website entitled "Everything's Better with Butter," in which she declares, with a total lack of shame, "And believe it or not, we're even frying butter!"

Her obsession reached its nadir with her infamous recipe for English peas, which, according to the Nashville Scene, consists of two ingredients — butter and English peas — and which inspired a slew of online mockery. The problem with butter, according to the American Heart Association, is that it's high in saturated fat, "which can cause problems with your cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of heart disease." In other words, everything is decidedly not better with butter.

Ree Drummond: More cheese, baby!

There's a lot to admire about Ree Drummond, the online success story who dubs herself "The Pioneer Woman." A truly self-made celebrity chef, she grew her brand from a humble one-woman blog to what is now: according to Country Living, a million-dollar empire. The culinary advice she doles out on her site seems largely reasonable. But every hero has a weakness.

Following a tip from Reddit that suggested Drummond is overly enamored with adding cheese to everything, we did some research and discovered the claim to be true. A search for the word "cheese" within Drummond's website turns up thousands of results, including a recipe for something called "Beer Cheese Dip" and an article that poses the question, "Can you freeze cheese?" There's nothing wrong with the occasional slice of gruyère, but Drummond has clearly never heard of the expression "too much of a good thing." If the actual pioneers had gobbled up this much cheese on the Oregon Trail, they would have succumbed to heart attacks before cholera and typhoid.

Rachael Ray: More EVOO, baby!

"30-Minute Meals" host Rachael Ray is notoriously obsessed with extra-virgin olive oil. Her magazine sings its praises. Almost all of her recipes call for it. She hawks merchandise designed to celebrate it. Most infamously, the acronym for the ingredient, EVOO, became a catchphrase for Ray and caught on to the point that no less an authority than the Oxford English Dictionary saw fit to include it in their annual tome.

Here's the problem: EVOO isn't appropriate for absolutely everything in the kitchen because the not-so-magic-after-all ingredient has a relatively low smoke point compared to other oils. As EatingWell warns, "When you heat olive oil to its smoke point, the beneficial compounds in oil start to degrade, and potentially health-harming compounds form." So don't listen to Rachael Ray if you need to whip up a flavorful stir-fry at high heat: While PO or CO might not be catchy acronyms, peanut oil or canola oil are better bets than EVOO.

Antony Worrall Thompson: Eat poison

According to the BBC News, Saturday Kitchen host Antony Worrall Thompson once told an interviewer that the wild plant henbane was "great in salads." There's a teensy little problem with that particular piece of advice. Henbane, according to the U.S. Forest Service, is highly poisonous, causing "loss of muscular control, dilation of the pupils, heart palpitation, hallucinations, delirium ('madness') and in large doses, coma, and death."

Turns out what Worrall Thompson actually meant to say was fat hen, better known in North America as lamb's quarters, which, per Edible Wild Food, is a very much edible — healthy, in fact! — weed that is presumably great in salads. A slip of the tongue can happen to anyone, but that one could have had particularly dire consequences. Thankfully, no one seems to have heeded Worrall Thompson's advice, which seems like a wise course of action, at least when it comes to his thoughts on weeds.

Johnna Holmgren: Yes, eat poison

Search for the debut book by the foraging movement's standard-bearer, Johnna Holmgren, online, and you'll likely come up short. An ominous note from the publisher, Rodale Press, says they have discontinued Tales From a Forager's Kitchen because of "concerns expressed by readers regarding the preparation and cooking of recipes with raw ingredients."

According to Us Magazine, raw elderberry was one of the ingredients frequently cited by Amazon reviewers as problematic (the book has since been scrubbed by Amazon). Indeed, the CDC warns about the dangers of elderberry, citing an incident in which 11 people vomited and had nausea after drinking raw elderberry juice. Yikes! That makes it an easy call to avoid Holmgren's advice of using that particular plant, uncooked, in recipes. It's likely no coincidence that the website that made Holmgren famous, Fox Meets Bear, is now bereft of recipes, consisting mostly of home-schooling workshops and hand-made duck calls.

Guy Fieri: Eat a lot, but slowly

At first blush, there doesn't seem to be anything particularly wrong with this piece of advice doled out by "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" star Guy Fieri via Twitter: "If you slow down and eat in courses, your body, mind, and most importantly ... your stomach will catch up with this full feeling and you won't eat as much." Okay. Slowing down and chewing properly is good, solid advice. But hold on ... "eat in courses?" First of all, it's doubtful that many of Fieri's fans follow the guidelines for a formal French meal in their nightly repast. And if the goal is really to not "eat as much," shouldn't you, at the very least, cut out the hors d'oeuvres and the appetizers?

According to the USDA's Dietary Guidelines, portion size is an important factor in maintaining proper health: "Be especially careful to limit portion size of foods high in calories." Instead of concentrating on pace of eating, Fieri would be better off recommending a reasonably sized main course, perhaps accompanied by a large glass of water with lemon. And if you're really looking to eat less, it's probably best to avoid gut-busting Fieri recipes like the Bacon Mac 'n' Cheese Burger.

Martha Stewart: Stink up a plane

Outside of the world of stock trading, Martha Stewart is known as a fount of wisdom. Most criticism of her homemaking advice falls along the lines of her recipes and DIY projects being too complicated — see the comment section on her Red, White, and Blue Stars, for examples. We think this brand of complaint is invalid: Stewart's exacting nature is well-known by now, and if you can't stand the Martha, get out of the kitchen!

However, there's one piece of advice from Stewart you should totally avoid: what kind of snacks to bring on a plane. As related to The New York Times, Stewart's carry-on menu — smoked salmon, tabbouleh salad, boiled eggs — reads like a list of foods expressly designed to stink up small quarters. In satisfying her own snacking needs, the domestic empress displays a typical rich person's obliviousness and a blatant disregard for the olfactory glands of her fellow passengers.

Julia Child: Cook with asbestos

Maybe it's churlish to pick on Julia Child. Who doesn't love Julia Child? She was arguably the first true celebrity chef. Her "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" is a classic of the genre. She's inspired generations to study the culinary arts. Meryl Streep played her in a movie. But there's another indisputable fact about Julia Child: She advised that you cook with asbestos. And not just once, but multiple times. Boy oh boy, did she love that sweet carcinogen. From "Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2": "When you are doing three long loaves, you must slide them together onto the hot asbestos." Later in the same book: "Cover and keep warm, basting occasionally, in a 150-degree oven or upon two asbestos mats."

We forgive her because it was a different, more innocent time, but do not follow Madame Child's old recipes to the letter unless you like a case of cancer with your French cuisine.

Jamie Oliver: Put jam in fried rice

Mmmmm, fried rice! The words alone conjure up the delectable taste of that dish's simple ingredients: grains of soy sauce-soaked goodness, bits of over-well egg, a sprinkling of sliced scallions, the protein of your choice, and ... jam?! Yes indeed, at least according to an infamous recipe by "Jamie's Quick & Easy Food" creator Jamie Oliver.

At first, you think, "Chili jam? Perhaps that's what the British call chili paste? Chili paste would be a totally acceptable ingredient in fried rice." But no. Oliver is referring to a horrifying concoction of his own that really does contain actual jam, apricot to be exact. YouTube personality Uncle Roger crafted a brutal takedown of the recipe that went viral, at almost 18 million views. We feel Uncle Roger speaks for everyone when he declares, "This is disgusting!" Oliver has provided a lot of culinary joy for years, but as far as this particular recipe by the self-proclaimed Naked Chef goes, it's clear that the emperor has no clothes.

Gwyneth Paltrow: Put laxatives in chocolate

By now, most sane people know to take with an asteroid-sized grain of salt any advice given by Gwyneth Paltrow via her notoriously bonkers company Goop. Her credibility died several jade eggs ago. If there's anyone left who reads the site for anything other than pure titillation and is actually tempted to try one of her recipes, there's at least one you should avoid like the plague: Sex Bark. Sex Bark, you see, contains Sex Dust, which in turn contains ho shou wu, a.k.a. polygonum multiflorum, which the National Institute of Health warns can cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and, yes, diarrhea. 

None of this sounds very sexy to us. In lieu of this alleged aphrodisiac, we recommend a scented candle and some Barry White and also that you avoid any further advice by this particular celebrity. If you're still on the fence, watch this video by YouTuber Michelle Khare, who tried Sex Dust and literally threw up.

Giada De Laurentiis: Put syrup in beer

Nothing hits the spot quite like a smooth, crisp lager. Whether paired with a patio lunch during the summer or poured into a glass mug to be pounded enthusiastically on the bar while watching a ballgame, it's a frothy staple around the world. Garnishes? At most, a slice of lemon or lime to enhance, but not overpower, the subtle flavor. Yet along comes Giada De Laurentiis with an epically avoidable piece of advice.

The Italian celebrity chef and restaurateur has the gall to suggest that you dilute your favorite lager (she blasphemously recommends Heineken) with a syrup of her own making. A sickening-sounding slop composed of water, sugar, star anise pods (which taste like licorice), and cinnamon, our counter-advice is to keep any such substance as far away from your pitcher of lager as humanly possible, or else you risk starting a riot among your Super Bowl party guests.