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Preview Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson's 'The Taste'

Preview Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson's 'The Taste'



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Food porn! Cooking shots! Crying contestants! This has it all

While Anthony Bourdain's new show Parts Unknown was already previewed last month (and confirmed our suspicious that it was basically No Reservations except on CNN), we've been sort of itching to see what Bourdain is like in a competitive cooking show. He's eaten goat curry, gotten wasted in plenty of foreign countries, got another tattoo at SXSW, but can he handle some poorly prepared food from wannabe chefs?

In this preview for The Taste, Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre, and Brian Malarkey all blindly judge contestants' food, basing their perceptions of the contestants' cooking skills off one bite. There's a lot of gasping, reaction shots of chefs in some kind of box/cell thing, and Bourdain saying, "This was a food crime." Drama! The series premieres Jan. 22 on ABC. Head on over to Eater for the other three previews (they're all basically the same, although the first one shows that one of the contestants was Charlie Sheen's personal chef).


The KCBS Foodie Chap With Nigella Lawson


KCBS radio “Foodie Chap” and CBS 5 television “Eye On The Bay” host Liam Mayclem introduces us to the culinary stars behind the food and wine loved by so many in the Bay Area.

KCBS Foodie Chap Podcast:

Nigella Lawson food enthusiast, television personality, and journalist, is the author of eight bestselling books including Nigella Kitchen, Nigella Fresh, Nigella Christmas, Nigella Bites, Feast, How to Be a Domestic Goddess , and How to Eat, which have sold more than 6 million copies worldwide.

Her books and groundbreaking iPhone app and television shows on Food Network, E! Entertainment Television, and Style have made her a GLOBAL household name.

She hosts an innovative new culinary competition series, The Taste, with Anthony Bourdain, Ludo Lefebvre, and Brian Malarkey on the ABC Television Network.

She lives in London with her family.

Nigella Lawson (credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)

“Cooking to me is pleasure”
– Nigella Lawson

A dozen years ago I was booked with Nigella on a morning show here in San Francisco. She arrived for that early AM shoot with a smile, a bag of food and said “lovely to meet you, let’s get to work and make our tummies happy”. It was love at firstbite though I cannot for the life of me recall what we prepared and ate that morn.

I have had the joy of getting in Nigella’s way in the kitchen on a handful of occasions since. It’s a little like being around my bossy big sister and I love every bloody admonishment, every single ticking off.

Only when Nigella visits, my friends do line up to offer up their homes for Nigella to cook in. “Pick me pick me I have the best kitchen my pals cry. Nigella is “a home cook” so it is fitting always that we cook in a normal home for our segments. Thanks Sumi and Tony.

Most recently we cooked at the home of dear friend Mary Risley. Nigella was so impressed by Mary’s kitchen and lovely garden she said “I may have to kill her and move in but Mary can stay, I’ll find a spot for her”. The good humor, smart oratory, the movie star looks and her sheer brilliance in the kitchen are all part of the Nigella package.

We met at Nigella’s “Cooks with books” appearance at Left Bank in Larkspur for our Foodie Chap chat (THANKS Book Passage). Chef Roland Passot’s Left Bank team recreated some of the recipes from her latest “NIGELLISSIMA” book. It’s a love letter to the pleasures of cooking. All recipes inspired by her love of Italy and Italian cooking. Every dish was a tasty success and some 80 or more people got to say “I had lunch with Nigella Lawson”. I know I will be saying that until the end of my days.

Visit her at www.nigella.com or on twitter @Nigella_Lawson Please enjoy my Foodie Chap with the GODDESS herself NIGELLA LAWSON.

4 Tasty Questions With Nigella Lawson

1. Cooking to you is about …?
Pleasure

2. It’s midnight, I go to your home, I go to your fridge, apart from you, what else will I find there?
Bacon to make a bacon sandwich, you have to dip the white bread in the bacon grease.

3. Outside the kitchen, what is your most absolute pleasure?
Being with people

4. Last supper, you can have a couple of guests, dead or alive, famous or not, who will they be and what will you eat?

Well, I have no desire my last night on earth to meet celebrities, I just want to be with my family and I would start eating and carry on eating until you chopped my head off, or whatever particular grizzly end you have in store for me. Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, fries because afterall we aren’t worrying about tomorrow, lots of fantastic cheese, enormous amounts of bread, a beautiful Californian wine, and I think some blackberries and heavy cream and some sambuca kisses. And then maybe at the end I might have a quick bit of filet steak and then I’m gonna carry on and then I think maybe a bar of really fantastic chocolate.

Tagliata (credit: NIGELLISSIMA)

Tagliata For Two

The French and the Americans may be proud of their steaks but, for me, the Italians win hands down. Nothing can compare to a tagliata (pronounced ‘tally-ata’) in its full glory: a vast, juicy, rare steak, big enough for a tableful of people, cut into thin slices (tagliare simply means to cut) and served most often over arugula and with some Parmesan shaved on top.

I’ve given recipes for just such a dish before, but it seemed to me that it might be possible to downsize a little, making this a more easily accomplished dish for a midweek meat feast. That’s to say, instead of going to the butcher and asking for a huge hunk of steak cut specially, you can make 1 supermarket strip steak (it still should be good meat, or don’t bother) stretch to feed 2 of you with no suggestion of scrimping and the ‘marinade’ is really a post-cooking dressing, so can happily be used as such. This is fabulously fiery, and the cherry tomatoes somehow serve as both condiment and accompaniment. Of course, you could add potatoes steamed would be good to stab with a fork and use to soak up the piquant juices, though the Tuscan Fries on p.138 are the greedy person’s obvious choice but I am happy with nothing more than some bread alongside. My son (whose absolute favorite this is) thinks likewise.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for oiling
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano just under a teaspoon
kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon
table salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 new york strip steak (approx. 12 ounces)
8 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
few sprigs fresh oregano, to serve (optional)

Heat a grill pan, or cast-iron or heavy non-stick frying pan.

In a small dish that can take the steak snugly later, combine the extra-virgin olive oil, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, salt, and red wine vinegar.

Oil the steak lightly and put it in the hot pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side, then remove it to the dish of spicy marinade and sit the cooked steak for 2 minutes a side in the dish. Your steak will be rare, but that’s the way it’s meant to be, although if you want to cook it for longer, I won’t stop you.

Remove the steeped steak to a board, ready for slicing, and while it sits there, arrange the cherry tomatoes, cut-side down, in the marinade dish. Cut the steak into thin slices on the diagonal and arrange on a serving dish or 2 dinner plates.

Smush the tomatoes around in the marinade, then pour them, and the marinade, over the ribbons of meat. Add a few leaves of fresh oregano, if you can get them, and serve immediately.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)


Nigella Lawson’s Tomato and Horseradish Salad

One of the most gratifying things for a home cook is to scrimmage a meal together out of leftovers. It’s enormously satisfying to ransack the fridge and use up what lies under plastic wrap or is lounging about in the vegetable drawer it always provides a relaxed, unforced creativity. I certainly would never have thought of using horseradish as a dressing for a tomato salad if I hadn’t wanted to find a way to use up a horseradish root staring beseechingly at me every time I opened the fridge.

While obviously excellent with beef, and do consider the Flat Iron Steak and Roast Top Round on p.190 and p.194 of At My Table respectively, this is wonderful with any oily fish, too.

To eat this at its best, leave time for the tomatoes to steep in the piquant dressing before serving.

Photo by Jonathan Lovekin.

Ingredients

¼ cup finely grated horseradish root

2 tablespoons raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons regular olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes or kosher salt

1¼ pounds (3½–4 cups) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved across the equator

1 cup loosely packed Italian parsley, very roughly chopped

Method

Stir the grated horseradish and vinegar together in a small bowl, then add the oil, salt, and sugar and whisk a little with a fork, just to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for a while, if time permits.

Tumble the halved tomatoes into a large mixing bowl, add the dressing, and mix everything gently but thoroughly together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave for 30 to 60 minutes, by which time the tomatoes will have given out their fruity juices, which duly mingle with the fierceness of the horseradish.

Toss the tomatoes tenderly in their bowl, then add the parsley leaves and toss again gently. Decant to a smaller serving bowl or a large plate and take to the table.

This story and recipe from our archives were originally published in May 2018. Try more delicious recipes.


The Taste, Season 3

The search to find America's best undiscovered cook continues in season three of "The Taste." Each week, in a fast-paced culinary competition, professional chefs and home cooks go head-to-head in "The Taste" kitchen, and the food is always judged blind. Returning this season to train the cooks is an all-star team of mentors: Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Marcus Samuelsson.

In the two-hour series premiere, home cooks and professional chefs from across the country will battle it out in "The Taste" kitchen by creating their most delicious dishes for culinary superstars Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Marcus Samuelsson to taste. Every dish is always judged blind. At the end of the night, 16 cooks will be given a place on the mentors' teams.

In the two-hour series premiere, home cooks and professional chefs from across the country will battle it out in "The Taste" kitchen by creating their most delicious dishes for culinary superstars Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Marcus Samuelsson to taste. Every dish is always judged blind. At the end of the night, 16 cooks will be given a place on the mentors' teams.

Seafood takes center stage next week when the 15 remaining hopefuls face off in "The Taste" kitchen and put their personal spin on the mentors' favorite seafood dishes. With a menu featuring steamed fish, seafood stew and shellfish in miso broth, in the end, two more competitors will eliminated.

Seafood takes center stage next week when the 15 remaining hopefuls face off in "The Taste" kitchen and put their personal spin on the mentors' favorite seafood dishes. With a menu featuring steamed fish, seafood stew and shellfish in miso broth, in the end, two more competitors will eliminated.

Tis the season for all things delicious on ABC's "The Taste" with 13 remaining cooks competing in holiday-themed challenges. Tasked with creating dishes based on fowl, duck and spiced chocolate desserts, the cooks take to the kitchen to see who will make the best bite. In the end, two more competitors will be sent home.

Tis the season for all things delicious on ABC's "The Taste" with 13 remaining cooks competing in holiday-themed challenges. Tasked with creating dishes based on fowl, duck and spiced chocolate desserts, the cooks take to the kitchen to see who will make the best bite. In the end, two more competitors will be sent home.

It's a new year and there's a new battle brewing in the kitchen when the remaining cooks are tasked with making delicious dishes bursting with decadent and elevated flavors with ingredients like champagne, shellfish and caviar. In the end, two more competitors will be sent home.

It's a new year and there's a new battle brewing in the kitchen when the remaining cooks are tasked with making delicious dishes bursting with decadent and elevated flavors with ingredients like champagne, shellfish and caviar. In the end, two more competitors will be sent home.

Bold, bright – and most of all – flavorful and spicy! It's Latin week on ABC's "The Taste" with the remaining competitors tasked with creating dishes like ceviche and tacos. With both a group and solo challenge ahead, in the end, two more cooks will be sent home.

Bold, bright – and most of all – flavorful and spicy! It's Latin week on ABC's "The Taste" with the remaining competitors tasked with creating dishes like ceviche and tacos. With both a group and solo challenge ahead, in the end, two more cooks will be sent home.

The competition is getting even hotter when the remaining contestants fight to cook another day in a hot and spicy "bring the heat" themed challenge using ingredients like Szechuan pepper and pork. With solo and group challenges ahead, two more cooks will be sent home, and the remaining competitors will head to the finale where only one will be named "The Taste" champion.

The competition is getting even hotter when the remaining contestants fight to cook another day in a hot and spicy "bring the heat" themed challenge using ingredients like Szechuan pepper and pork. With solo and group challenges ahead, two more cooks will be sent home, and the remaining competitors will head to the finale where only one will be named "The Taste" champion.

It's all come down to this. The search for America's Best Undiscovered Cook sees only five cooks remaining in "The Taste" kitchen, and the mentors give their final group challenge - creating Saints and Sinners-inspired dishes representing two very opposite ideas and culinary concepts.

It's all come down to this. The search for America's Best Undiscovered Cook sees only five cooks remaining in "The Taste" kitchen, and the mentors give their final group challenge - creating Saints and Sinners-inspired dishes representing two very opposite ideas and culinary concepts.


Eater's Fall Food Reality TV Previewstravaganza

Get ready to spend some quality time on your couch because this Fall there is so much food reality television premiering that you couldn't watch all of it and simultaneously hold down a full-time job. For real: alongside ongoing shows like Bizarre Foods, Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen and the brand new Hotel Hell (more seasons of Kitchen Nightmares are forthcoming), Next Great Baker, Cupcake Wars, and MasterChef, there are a ton of new shows premiering soon.

Tomorrow will see the season two premiere of Food Network's extremely extreme Extreme Chef and the pilot of ABC's chronological caper Time Machine Chefs (although it's unlikely it'll get picked up for a full season). Next week is the premiere of the new series Beat the Chefs (amateur cooks versus the likes of Beau MacMillan, Antonia Lofaso, and Jeff Henderson) on the Game Show Network.

Anthony Bourdain begins his farewell to the Travel Channel when the final season of No Reservations starts in early September, which is also when hamburgerman George Motz premieres his new show Burger Land (also on the Travel Channel). Later this Fall, Jamie Oliver plans on racing both British and America chefs across the USA in Chef Race (on BBC America). And then there's the Next Iron Chef in November.

Season four of Top Chef Masters is currently airing, and while no announcement has been made by Bravo, there's sure to be another food show airing immediately afterwards. While regular old Top Chef seems to be filming in Alaska right now, Masters might be over too quickly for them to edit in all those beauty shots of Glad products. Best guess? Next up is Life After Top Chef, which is rumored to have filmed this past Spring and follows former cheftestapants Jen Carroll, Richard Blais, Fabio Viviani, and Spike Mendelsohn around to see what they're up to. Expect an announcement from Bravo of some kind soon. In order, here's everything that's premiering:

Fall 2012

· Extreme Chef: August 16, the second season of the show that makes chefs compete in extremely extreme challenges. (Food Network)
· Time Machine Chefs: August 16, Chris Cosentino, Art Smith, Ilan Hall and Jill Davie go back in time. (ABC)
· The Great Food Truck Race August 19, food trucks that race, hosted by Tyler Florence. (Food Network)
· Beat the Chefs: August 23, amateur cooks go against professionals like Beau MacMillan, Antonia Lofaso, and Jeff Henderson. (Game Show Network)
· Burger Land: September 2, George Motz explores America's wealth of hamburger sources. (Travel Channel)
· No Reservations: The Final Tour: September 3, Bourdain travels the world, eating and drinking. (Travel Channel)
· Next Iron Chef: November 4, chefs duke it out to become an Iron Chef. (Food Network)
· Chef Race: UK vs. U.S.: Fall, chefs race across the country, produced by Jamie Oliver. (BBC America)

Beyond Fall 2012

· Coffee Hunter: "Later this year." Philadelphia coffeeman Todd Carmichael travels the world in search of the best in beans. (Travel Channel)
· Women of Taste: Undated, a restaurant-themed reality show starring six women, one of whom is rumored to be Eater LA editor Kat Odell. (Bravo)
· Life After Top Chef: Undated, the lives of cheftestapants of yore. (Bravo)
· The Taste: Undated, Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain's mysterious competition show. (ABC)
· Food Court Wars: Undated, Gordon Ramsay, Tyler Florence, and a food court in Alabama. (Food Network)
· Chef Wants a Wife: Undated, a chef dating show.
· Food Chain: Undated, Paula Deen's cooking competition show.
· The Layover, the final season of Anthony Bourdain's servicey travel show. (Travel Channel)
· Unnamed Anthony Bourdain Travel Project: "Early 2013," your guess is as good as anyone's. (CNN)


The Taste, Season 2

One blind spoonful could change everything on ABC’s “The Taste.” This new cooking competition show is literally all about taste.

Sixteen competitors, from pro chefs to home cooks, whip up dishes attempting to impress four of the world’s most notable chefs. The catch is all the dishes will be judged in a blind taste test. In this pressure-packed contest, the taste of a single spoonful can catapult a contender to the top or send him packing.

“The Taste” features no-holds barred chef Anthony Bourdain, British food star Nigella Lawson, expert chef and author Ludo Lefebvre and restaurateur Brian Malarkey. Each of the four culinary superstars and “Taste” mentors – Bourdain, Lawson, Lefebvre and Malarkey – will coach a team of four competing pro and amateur cooks chosen from a nationwide casting call as they vie to create the best tasting dish.

In each episode, the groups will face team and individual challenges with a variety of culinary themes through several elimination rounds. At the end of each episode, the mentors will have to judge the competitors’ dishes blind, with no knowledge of whose creation they’re sampling, what they’re eating, how it was prepared or whom they could be eliminating.


RELATED ARTICLES

She was dressed for comfort in ballet flats and is clearly happy to be back to work in the USA.

Cigarette break: Earlier Nigella popped out for a quick ciggie break in the middle of filming

Casual: Nigella was dressed down but still sported a full face of make-up after a busy day of filming

Last week Nigella posted a picture of herself washing up cups in her spacious trailer and joked: 'Oh, the glamour! Washing up in my trailer @TheTasteABC #thetaste #LoveTheGloves #Orange'.

The star was a far cry from her usual sensuous self in a scruffy looking peach dressing gown and bright orange rubber gloves.

She beamed at the camera from under a full face of make-up, with her brunette locks coiffed in soft waves.

Her only vice: Although Nigella admitted in court that she had taken cocaine in the past, these days cigarettes are her only vice

A moment to herself: No doubt Nigella enjoyed having a moment to herself as she gets back into her hectic filming schedule

Nigella is relishing being back at work after a difficult start to her year.

The star revealed on Twitter that she was en-route to America - as she posted pictures of the plentiful Coleman's mustard, Ty-Phoo tea bags and gourmet Maldon sea salt she had packed, writing: 'Stateside for a month now: essential supplies'.

MailOnline told in May that the ABC cooking show was returning - and that Nigella would be welcome back if she could sort out her visa.

Oh, the glamour! Nigella Lawson posted a lighthearted picture on Twitter of her washing up on the set of The Tate USA Monday morning

Smiles better: Nigella arrived in the US this week after finally getting permission from the US embassy in London to travel to the States

And the mother-of-two promoted the fact that she was back, posting a drawing of her with fellow Taste co-stars Anthony, Marcus and Martin.

French chef Marcus also tweeted a picture of a celebratory crab feast he was whipping up for his fellow chefs at his Californian home, adding, 'welcome to LA!'

‘Domestic Goddess’ Nigella was forced to confess under oath during a trial last year that she had snorted cocaine seven times and smoked cannabis in front of her children.

Stateside: Nigella Lawson is in the US to film the new season of her ABC show, The Taste - and she has take provisions of British mustard, tea and salt with her

She's back: She posted a picture of herself and her The Taste co-stars - confirming she was back on the show

In April the Daily Mail told how Nigella was stopped from boarding a flight from Heathrow to Los Angeles.

She is thought to have checked in and passed security before being told she could not board her plane.

She had to return to the first class check-in to arrange to collect her hold luggage.

Anthony Bourdain, a former heroin addict who once admitted selling his prized record collection to buy drugs, worked with Nigella Lawson on The Taste

Celebration: Nigella's co-star, chef Ludo Lefebvre whipped up a crab feast for her arrival

Nigella is believed to have tried to enter the US by registering online for permission to travel and confirming she had not been arrested or convicted of offences including taking illegal drugs.

But the country can also decide to bar foreigners who have committed drugs offences without ever being charged. Would-be travellers can apply to have the ban lifted, but this can take months.

Nigella was then invited by the US Embassy in London to apply for a working visa - and could have faced a drug test by US doctors.

At the time, her Taste co-star Anthony Bourdain tweeted his support for the star, saying: 'I am absolutely mortified with embarrassment over the cruelty and hypocrisy of US actions re: #Nigella travel. Unbelievable.'

Season 2 of The Taste ended in February with 3.2 million viewers. And despite going up against NBC's Winter Olympics coverage, the show was up week to week by seven per cent in total viewers - and up 14 per cent in women aged 18-34.

Back to work: Domestic Goddess Nigella was last pictured in London on August 3, wearing a tangerine coat and sunglasses

Support: Nigella Lawson - seen here with co-star Ludo Lefebvre - was given support from her Taste friends after being banned from The States

Fury: Nigella Lawson's Taste co-star Anthony Bourdain hit out at the US in her defence in April

When Nigella made her return for season 2 of The Taste it was her big return to television screens following her very public divorce from Charles Saatchi.

Ludo went on to reveal how he had grown 'very, very, very close' with Nigella, describing the mum-of-two as a 'great woman'.

He said it 'broke my heart' to see his co-star's ordeal during the trial of her former housekeepers who were cleared of fraud in December.

In an interview with The London Times, Ludo described how he first saw Nigella on television when he moved to America in 1996, but they met for the first time last year.

The married chef, 42, said: 'We have become very, very, very close - we clicked right away.'

He went on to say that seeing the court appearance 'broke my heart' before adding: 'Have you heard anything like this before? No. Because she is a great woman.'

His wife, lawyer Kristine Lefebvre, added that Nigella had described the chef as 'a very good-looking younger brother'.

Close: French chef Ludo Lefebvre, Nigella Lawson's Taste co-star said her court case against the Grillo sisters 'broke my heart' and called her a 'great woman'. The friends starred together on two seasons of The Taste - and could be reunited for season 3

Saucy: Nigella was certainly flirty when it came to winning over contestants on the show, who were hoping to be picked by the panel of chefs

On The Taste, the judges must decide whether they want the cook to continue on in the competition based solely on the taste.

‘Food is never just food, it’s exquisite and it appeals to every sense,’ Nigella said. ‘It can change your life.’

Nigella had to give evidence at the trial of her former housekeepers, Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, who were accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds from her and ex-husband Charles Saatchi.

While insisting she had never been an addict or habitual user of drugs, she confirmed she had taken cocaine.

She said she needed the drugs to cope with the death of her first husband, John Diamond, and the ‘intimate terrorism’ of her second, Mr Saatchi.

Nigella Lawson with her ex-husband Charles Saatchi. Although Scotland Yard did not act over her drug confession, the US authorities are taking a tougher stance


The Taste: Season 1

I never watch the first 1/3rd of any cooking competition show. It is almost always a mess. I did for this and it was no different BUT I absolutely loved the way it turned out after the first 3 episodes.

I greatly dislike Bordain as a personality BUT he was great in this. I don't watch I never watch the first 1/3rd of any cooking competition show. It is almost always a mess. I did for this and it was no different BUT I absolutely loved the way it turned out after the first 3 episodes.

I greatly dislike Bordain as a personality BUT he was great in this. I don't watch TV and haven't had cable for years but I always watch a few cooking competitions through out the year on HULU.

I think it is worth a watch just to see the final and see Chef K's reaction to her idol. And it's great that Andres was on the show. Most of the time it's either someone already popular on TV or a M-Star winner. You can have really, REALLY great food and not have a star. Andres is a perfect example of that.

I do dislike that the judging is based on personal taste. It undertones the reality of what actually tastes good.

If you like cooking competitions, I suspect you'll like the final half o the first season ALOT. In addition, I'm very excited for second season which won't have Malarky (I actually thought he had great potential for TV). I'm curious who the new 4th judge/chef is.

Overall I gave it a 9/10. The first couple of episodes were easily just a 5/10 but by the end you wanted to give the last two episodes a 15/10 and that to me puts it at a 9/10. &hellip Expand


Nigella Lawson

Along East Hastings Street, a lineup of foodies builds outside The Gourmet Warehouse. They’re all here to catch a glimpse of the domestic goddess herself—the one who they’ve watched on their television screens effortlessly whip up a decadent lemon pavlova and dish out a hearty bowl of ramen the one who has comforted them with her quintessential Britishness the one who has become the champion for the home cook. On this night, Vancouverites are here to honour the woman simply known as Nigella.

The next day, sipping on a Moroccan green tea at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia with her dark hair pushed behind one ear, Nigella Lawson reflects on the many Vancouverites who came to celebrate the release of her 11th cookbook, At My Table (Appetite by Random House). “It was quite frenetic, but very friendly and lovely,” she purrs in her velvety-smooth English accent. She is thrilled to be enjoying the sunshine of the city, especially considering Vancouver is the last stop on her three-week-long book tour of North America. With At My Table, the celebrated A-list food personality once again inspires home cooks with over 100 recipes that are approachable, achievable, and above all, delicious.

For nearly two decades, Lawson has painted a portrait of what domestic bliss looks like. Her chart-topping book How to Be a Domestic Goddess won her the British Book Award for Author of the Year in 2000, which led to 10 global cooking shows, including the Food Network’s Nigella Feasts and the popular series Nigella Bites. She appeared alongside Anthony Bourdain and Ludo Lefebvre as a mentor on the cooking reality show The Taste and served as a special guest judge on MasterChef Australia. But unlike her counterparts in the industry, Lawson is not a chef, and she will be the first to shut down that title association. She has never worked in a professional kitchen, nor has she received professional training. She is an individualist a hobby cook who has encouraged people to see food in the context of life, using gastronomy as a way to create memories.

“It’s been a part of my life since my earliest childhood, really,” Lawson says, reflecting on her love affair with food. “It feels like a lifelong feature of my personality.” Daughter to one of the most prominent politicians in Margaret Thatcher’s government, Lawson pursued a career in journalism at Oxford University, all the while exploring her culinary passions on the side. Her writing career began at The Sunday Times, where she served as deputy literary editor then came a job as a freelance journalist, writing food columns for The Spectator, British Vogue, and The New York Times. “Food helped me as a journalist because often I would be cooking while I was working out what I was going to write about that next day,” Lawson reminisces. “And journalism helped me with food because I’m trying to make a case for a recipe.”

At My Table makes food simple, and even fun it is geared towards anyone who wants to enjoy their time in the kitchen and at the table. “It’s about home food and how I feel about it now after writing about food for so long,” she muses. From garlicky roasted potatoes with oregano and feta to beef and eggplant fatteh, Lawson proves that delightful plates do not always require culinary mastery. She motivates sideline cooks to try new ingredients, get creative, and stay calm even when making a mess in the process. “I’m not into the ‘perfect lives’ things,” she says. “But I am interested in the food and people.”

Although she is mere hours away from boarding a plane back home to London, where she has already ordered lamb chops to be picked up from her butcher that she plans to serve with a preserved lemon and mint sauce, Lawson can’t help but praise Vancouver. “I think whenever you have a city and you have a good mix of cultures, it creates a very lively food scene, and that’s wonderful,” she says. For brunch here, she did exactly as Vancouverites do, taking to Café Medina she ordered the Harissa “Burger” and gushed over the dish’s two perfectly fried eggs on grilled pita with preserved lemon and harissa spiced beef. Later in the day came Hawksworth’s legendary burger with short ribs, blue cheese, porcini, tomato-fig relish, and arugula. “This is a fantastic city for eating, isn’t it?”

Although there is a certain thrill in dining at new restaurants in the city, Vancouverites who lined up to meet Lawson made it clear that home cooking is also alive and well. As she pens in At My Table, “life is complicated cooking doesn’t have to be.” Nothing is as precious as a kitchen table, and nothing is as sweet as sharing in its comforts with the closest family and friends.


Celebrity chef Lawson speaks her mind, minds her curves

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - America might not know what to make of a celebrity chef as comfortable quoting philosophers as corraling reality cooking show contestants.

And Nigella Lawson is completely at ease with that.

"Today, it's all about marketing and people want to know where to place you," Lawson said during an interview during the weekend's South Beach Wine and Food Festival. "And I suppose I just don't care about that."

Lawson has carved a long culinary career by rejecting stereotypes and speaking her mind.

Most recently, she garnered attention for telling the producers of her latest television venture "The Taste" that they could not retouch images of her to reduce her belly.

It's not about vanity. It's about voice. And she wants hers heard - or in the case of her curves, seen - without layers of producers and editors and retouchers reinterpreting her message to viewers and readers.

"I don't need that to be mediated by any other person," she said. "To have your voice tampered with is a terrible thing. It has to be a genuine conversation with the reader."

That's why when Lawson writes cookbooks - including her just released ode to Italian cooking, "Nigellissima" - she sends them to the designer long before they go to her publisher. It's a way to preserve her vision for the book rather than have an editor decide how it should look.

It's also why she's comfortable dropping the names of British philosophers - in this case Bertrand Russell - in the introduction of her new book, the sort of high-faluten chatter that would end up chopped by most cookbook editors.

As for "The Taste" - which Lawson shoots with fellow culinary free spirit Anthony Bourdain - she has ideas for changing it a bit if there is a second season, including more cooking and eating by the teams who compete on the show.

"The producers probably don't want all my extra ideas, but I probably will give them the benefit of my ideas whether they want them or not," she said.


Watch the video: Anthony Bourdain and Anderson Cooper try super spicy wings