Simmering feud between Norwich City shareholder Delia Smith and Esther Rantzen over recipe comes to the boil again

Delia Smith.

Delia Smith.

A simmering feud between Norwich City's joint majority shareholder Delia Smith and former That's Life! presenter Esther Rantzen over a chilli con carne recipe has been reignited 30 years on.

Broadcaster Esther Rantzen

Broadcaster Esther Rantzen - Credit: PA

The quarrel initially came to the boil when a fan of the TV chef wrote to That's Life to say he fell 'terribly ill' after trying out the chilli recipe in Delia Smith's Cookery Course book, a best seller published by the BBC.

It was discovered that he had failed to cook the red kidney beans in Miss Smith's recipe thoroughly enough. The beans need to be boiled for at least ten minutes to destroy high concentrations of lectin, a harmful toxin.

However, this week Miss Rantzen said Miss Smith demanded an apology and threatened to withdraw publication rights for the book from the BBC unless the apology was received.

She also claimed she was 'leaned on' by her BBC bosses to apologise for broadcasting the claim that the cookery writer had failed to warn readers to pre-boil the beans to make them safe to eat.

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She said: 'The bosses said I had to apologise. It was the most obscure apology you have ever heard. I am not sure we did not put it to music.

'What we said was (the viewer) made the mistake... and we told viewers they would have to make sure (the beans) were cooked and Delia changed her recipe. I think honour was preserved on both sides.'

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But Miss Smith denied threatening to withdraw publication rights and said Miss Rantzen's remarks in the 1970s were 'very damaging' because her original cooking instructions were 'perfectly safe.'

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