It’s a very simple recipe: take a celebrity. Put them in the kitchen. Add a remote chef. Stir interested.
It’s been tried a lot lately, especially during these times of shooting around social distancing. There are YouTube channels featuring the likes of Paris Hilton and even Kiefer Sutherland pulling meals together while cameras roll. You almost expect to hear Jack Bauer yelling, “Dammit, Chloe — I said simmer!!”
Selena + Chef is more serene with Selina Gomez getting schooled each episode by a different expert chef via a remote connection. The 10-episode series launches Thursday.
We see Gomez tackling things like Hawaiian dough-nuts at home in her brick-backed kitchen. “I love to eat but I’m not the best cook in the world,” she says right up front. Master Chefs such as Ludo LeFebvre, Daniel Holzman and Angelo Sosa visit via remote camera hookups, so they’re in their homes too.
Now, I can’t cook either. Would it be a TV show if Ludo was live on my iPad, walking me through how to scramble eggs? Probably not. I have interviewed Ludo before, and he’s very French. He scrambles gently and never allows eggs to brown even un petit peu. He also doesn’t suffer fools easily, so there might be yelling.
Pop star Gomez takes a savvy approach. She admits up front that she has a lot to learn in the kitchen, so her small victories are applauded and her disasters are expected. In some episodes, grandparents and other family members are the tasters and, well, families can be cruel but they can also be forgiving.
Selena + Chef was featured last week during the CTAM/TCA live remote press tour. Gomez told reporters that she could do a pretty good Miso soup. ” My comfort food would be my nana’s chicken and dumplings,” she added. “I would say that’s my favorite.”
She also can whip up a dish of chicken salad with grapes. “It’s hard for me to cook pasta now because I know what real pasta should taste like,” she says. Challenged to list five easy dishes, she pauses and says, “I can make a killer PB&J.”
Serious home cooks may want to change the channel (switch streams?). Selena fans may just enjoy scoping out her kitchen.
For those in between, I’m hoping there are more moments on the show like the one on the press session where she was asked how she’s coping with life under quarantine. One wise woman asked, “Were there revelations you made about yourself, your life, when life slowed down?”
“I think there’s been a lot of blessings in the breaking if that makes sense,” Gomez replied. “It’s not easy for anyone to be walking through what we’re walking through. It’s not normal and it’s affecting people, specifically with mental health, you know, and people who have never, you know, thought about things that they’re thinking about now, and it’s just confusing.
“You know, it was hard but I tried to find what I needed to get me through it. I have great friends, and I see a therapist and, yeah, just try to like keep my mind positive, but it’s all been great. I’ve learned so much about myself. I’ve learned more about my country than I ever have from school or anything. So I’ve been very grateful for that, as well. Yeah, a lot’s changed. And I’m 28 now, whatever that means.”
It means that you’re old enough to give a mature and honest answer, and, in terms of personal publicists, there doesn’t appear to be too many chefs in your kitchen. Please add another place setting at your table.
Selena + Chef begins streaming Thursday, August 13 on HBO Max and, in Canada, on Crave.