Wednesday, October 13, 2010
When I lived in New York a million years ago, my awesome roommate, Allison, would always have a cooking show on, offering up spirited tips from the TV. I've never been a kitchen connoisseur, so for me, the shows were mostly background noise -- a chirpy hum that competed with the honking horns and random shouts from the bar outside our window.
What I was missing, though, was the entertainment factor. Cooking shows -- even for culinary wimps -- can be really fun and helpful.
Now that I'm a mom and want to become better friends with my pots and pans, I find that chatting up cooking experts -- who have great shows themselves -- has been a huge help in setting my mind at ease. While I'm not Julia Child, Bobby Flay, Roger Mooking or the newest Cooking Channel personality, Nadia G. from "Bitchin' Kitchen," I'm a lot more comfortable experimenting with basic dishes.
Chicken? OK, so I still am a little bit.
I had the chance to chat up Nadia G. about her new show, which started out as a Web series before making the leap to Cooking Channel this year. (Her premiere episode was last Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. and continues again this week.)
An Italian-Canadian comedian with tons of personality (hello, cooking in stilleto heels with a guitar spatula on zebra-print floors!), she offers fun and sometimes touchy themes for each of her episodes. (If you check out the above video, you can find out how to cook for your soon-to-be ex. Awk. Ward.) Other episodes feature "Recession Recipes" and "Impressing the In-Laws."
But it was the combination of food and family conversation that really inspired her show.
"I grew up in a food-obsessed Italian family, and the kitchen was pretty much the heart of the home where we ate," Nadia said, "but it's also where we talked about everything, from current events to heartbreak to the recession. You name it, this is where all the conversations went down, and it was always over some good food."
"So, with 'Bitchin' Kitchen' we do the same thing," she added. "We talk about juicy topics every week, and we have a great meal to go along with it."
The show is definitely juicy and appealing for a new generation of fans, but families -- and particularly teenage girls -- have also been getting in on the fun.
"Younger kids love this show because there are a lot of different levels to it," Nadia explained. "You can watch it for the great meal. You can watch it for the comedy. You can watch it to sneak a peek at the awesome heels or the wild fashion."
"Younger kids grow up in a time where they multitask," she said. "Everyone's got five programs running, and I think having a show that works on multiple levels is exciting for them. Because we bring in the comedy and the rock-and-roll style and attitude, it really brings out the cooking to younger people, who would not necessarily sit down and watch a cooking show."
"It's kind of like sneaking broccoli into your pasta sauce," Nadia added. "We sneak the love of food and cooking into 'Bitchin' Kitchen' for younger people."
Nadia even has tips for the youngest of eaters -- who can also be the pickiest.
"Get them involved in the cooking process," she suggested. "Maybe take them out to the market and have them choose what vegetables or what food items are going to be featured that night, and because they're invested in the process, they're more likely to eat the meal."
The most important element, Nadia stressed, was bringing a fresh attitude and style to the kitchen -- a good idea for moms, who feel as if they're hitting the repeat button a little too often for dinner.
Even if it takes "a fun chain-mail tea towel or a hot new apron," she said. "Whatever it takes to make the environment brighter for you."
"Bitchin' Kitchen" hosted by Nadia G.
Cooking Channel; Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT
Click here for recipes.