A Belgian public TV network has scrapped the airing of a controversial episode on Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's "favorite dish" on a popular culinary show after widespread protests by Jewish groups.
Should Hitler's favorite dish be at the center of a TV cooking show?
In recent weeks, the cooking show Plat Prefere, or "Favorite Dish," on Belgium's Flemish public broadcaster VRT had featured the "Catalan lobster" preferred by surrealist painter Salvador Dali and the "curried chicken" loved by late musician Freddy Mercury.
But the show's star chef Jeroen Meus' choice of Adolf Hitler as his next celebrity has cooked up a heated controversy, forcing the network this week to pull the plug on the episode planned to broadcast Tuesday, Oct. 28.
"The management of VRT defends the content of the program but preferred to withdraw it from scheduling on account of the controversy," the VRT channel said in a statement on Monday.
Jewish community up in arms
The episode was to show the 30-year-old Meus catching some trout in Bavaria, before heading to Hitler's "Eagle's Nest" command complex in the Bavarian Alps to cook the trout with butter sauce.
"It's a really simple dish," Meus says in the show, which has already been produced. "Hitler was the most powerful man in the world at the time, he could have had caviar. But it's simple trout instead."
Featuring Hitler on a cooking show has sparked controversy
The meal has been described as "a succulent festive meal," in the program trailer.
The episode sparked outrage among the Jewish community in Antwerp.
The chief editor of Antwerp's Joods Actueel Jewish community magazine, Michael Freilich, denounced the program in advance for "presenting Hitler as a simple man of the people."
He accused Meus of being "naive" and ill-informed about the Holocaust and the effects on its survivors.
Freilich said it is worrying Hitler is turned into a banal figure, thus sending "the wrong signal" to a younger generation with little knowledge of Nazism and World War II.
Six million Jews from across Nazi-occupied Europe perished during the Holocaust.
"This year it's the favorite dish, next year it will be about Hitler's favorite bicycle path," Claude Marinower, a member of Antwerp's city council said on television. "There's too little reflection. Time doesn't heal all wounds."
Callas replaces Hitler
A safe choice: Maria Callas
The makers of the program however defended the episode, pointing to the broadcaster's reputation for quality programming and solid historical documentaries and reports.
They stressed that chef Meus was to make it clear at the beginning of the episode that he didn't plan to present Hitler as "humanistic."
The channel now plans to replace Hitler on its cook show on Tuesday night with a more palatable celebrity: singer Maria Callas.