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Food television: constructions of authenticity in Australian culinary programs

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posted on 2023-01-18, 18:14 authored by Bernardine Lynch
Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the School of Humanities, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora.

Television programs about food are now a main stay of prime time viewing schedules on both public and commercial broadcasting networks in Australia. Given the current popularity and variety of the genre, these programs provide important and unique insights into the aspirations and lifestyle choices of contemporary Australians. This thesis examines four food series produced by public broadcasting networks in the last decade. It investigates the common theme of „authenticity‟ and argues that in the era of late modernity the appeal of food television lies in connecting audiences with vicarious experiences of „real‟ food and related culinary traditions. In examining the various ways authenticity is constructed in these programs, the thesis reveals that although it is a concept widely used in food based discourses, its use can be problematic. Authenticity is often an assertion made about particular foods frequently without substantiation. The programs examined include Food Safari, Luke Nguyen‟s Vietnam, Gourmet Farmer and Poh‟s Kitchen. Each series is scrutinised in the context of the development of lifestyle television in Australia and the broader societal shift towards lifestyles as ways of living which are consciously chosen rather than determined by tradition. This necessitates an investigation into the changing role food plays in contemporary industrialised societies. Food now functions as a significant factor in the production of identity. Choices made relating to what one eats and in what manner, can be indicative of one‟s aspirations and sense of self. This thesis argues that the desire for authentic food as mediated through culinary television is intrinsically linked to the need to experience connectedness and tradition, albeit vicariously.


Center or Department

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. School of Humanities.

Thesis type

  • Ph. D.

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


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This thesis contains third party copyright material which has been reproduced here with permission. Any further use requires permission of the copyright owner. The thesis author retains all proprietary rights (such as copyright and patent rights) over all other content of this thesis, and has granted La Trobe University permission to reproduce and communicate this version of the thesis. The author has declared that any third party copyright material contained within the thesis made available here is reproduced and communicated with permission. If you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact us with the details.

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