Serving up Midas’s chicken wings

Jonathan Cheban © foodgod / Instagram
Jonathan Cheban: Mr Foodgod has a bright new idea

A reality TV celebrity has started a line in gold-plated food. But what on earth is the point?

One likes to keep up to date with American politics, so when we learned that the president had recently been taking advice from a certain Mrs Kardashian on penal reform we decided to find out who she is. We found no mention of her in the various political almanacs in our library, so we remained stumped until we were informed that she was the host of a popular television show.

Anyway, it turns out that Mrs Kardashian has some very colourful friends. One of them, Jonathan Cheban, has come up with something else we can expect to be making its way to the White House before too long – namely gold-plated food.

Mr Cheban (or Mr Foodgod as he insists on being known) has unveiled a “menu collaboration” with The Ainsworth, an upscale restaurant in New York, “showing off a platter of chicken wings covered in edible 24-carat gold”, as Carly Stern reports in the Daily Mail. The wings are “smothered in some sort of metallic gold sauce, and can be ordered three different ways” from the restaurant’s branches in the Chelsea and the East Village districts of New York. Naturally, they don’t come cheap: “ten wings are $45, 20 wings are $90, and for $1,000 diners can order 50 wings with a bottle of champagne Armand de Brignac”.

The Guardian’s Morwenna Ferrier is unimpressed. Gold needs to be in its purest 24-carat form to be safe to eat, but it tastes of nothing, our body can’t digest it and it has no nutritional value. In short, such a concoction is the gastronomic equivalent of “lighting a fag with a burning tenner – the joy, it seems, is in destroying it”.

Art makers par excellence

Gold-plated food is nothing new though, as Helen Rosner points out in The New Yorker. Dishes adorned with gold “have been consumed by medieval alchemists, pharaonic Egyptians, and Victorian aesthetes”. More recently, “the legendary Milanese chef Gualtiero Marchesi, one of the fathers of modern Italian cuisine, famously served saffron risotto topped with squares of gold leaf, an opulent echo of the rice’s vivid yellow hue”. Marchesi’s creation “was so iconic that he wore it, in tiny replica, as a lapel pin”.

But why do it? In the end, “a person orders a platter of golden chicken wings to demonstrate that she is the sort of person who orders a platter of golden chicken wings… Your body Instagrams it, eats it, metabolises it, and excretes it.”

And that last step “is not a trivial one”. “Much like squid ink or beets, gold makes itself known on the way out.” The artist Tobias Wong capitalised on this with his infamous work Gold Pills from 2005 – gelatine capsules filled with 24-carat gold, which were intended to be swallowed by the purchaser. As the Huffington Post put it back in 2012, the promise was to “turn any indulgent rich kid with a regular bowel movement into an art-maker par excellence”. Wong’s pills can be bought in an unlimited edition box of three for $425. They are the perfect gift for the man who has absolutely everything – everything, that is, apart from a glittery sh*t.

Tabloid money… lessons from the Great Visa Crash

• “I first met Peter Stringfellow in the early ’80s when he came down to London from Sheffield to break into the capital’s nightclub scene,” says Adam Helliker in The Daily Express. The nightclub impresario, who died last Thursday aged 77, was very pro-Tory and gave the party quite a lot of money. “I remember one night when he was introduced to Margaret Thatcher and he invited her down to Stringfellows… She turned to her private secretary and asked: ‘What is Stringfellows club?’” By then, the “table-dancing club” was “fairly louche”. “Oh, I don’t think so but thanks very much for the invitation,” said Thatcher. “She was happy to take the money… though,” said Stringfellow. He “was straightforward and that’s why he did so well in business”.

• The “Great Visa Crash” last week saw thousands of “law-abiding citizens” unable to pay for goods and services, stranded abroad and left without cash, says Ann Widdecombe in the Daily Express. “I thought of reverting to the past and using a cheque to buy my rail ticket from Devon to London and pay for overnight accommodation, but then realised that there were no longer such devices as cheque guarantee cards.” The lessons to be taken away from the drama are that you should always carry large amounts of cash and, two, get another card if all your cards are with one provider. “Neither course of action is particularly responsible so perhaps the banks could review their anti-cheque policies?”

• “Come on you entrepreneurs,” says Saira Khan in the Sunday Mirror. Work qualifications provider Professional Academy has revealed that a third of Brits have had an idea that could, according to the research, “make them millions” – only they lacked the guts to follow through with their convictions. Reasons for not trying included the expense of modern living, lack of time and busy family schedules. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t see barriers, but opportunities. They take calculated risks and refuse to give up when things don’t go their way. Sure, it’s a 24/7 commitment at the beginning – “there is no life, just work”. But don’t let that put you off. The great thing about being your own boss is you get to make the decisions.