If you’ve salivated over pastry queen Nigella Lawson…and her sugary confections, here’s some good news. Model Joey Matthews trades in the high heels for the chef’s hat in her new avatar as TV cookery queen. “It started when a couple of friends from a production house came over for a meal. It was a proper sit-down dinner — set table, different courses — and they were so impressed, they decided to pitch it as a show concept to a channel,” explains Mathews, who started cooking when she moved to Delhi from Kerala at the beginning of her modelling career.
“I couldn’t find ‘Mallu’ food anywhere, so I’d be on the phone with my mom, and she’d instruct me on how to make my favourite curries, fried meats and fish,” she reminisces. The long-distance lessons came in handy when she moved to London to pursue her modelling career, where her maids were so excited about her cooking that they offered to clean for free in exchange for three meals a week.
The format of the show, which will have Mathews cooking her favourite dishes from pizza and burgers to baklava and pork roasts, also features a dinner party
segment. Here the host will be seen entertaining friends, from model Bhavna Sharma and designer Malini Ramani to her two god-daughters aged four and nine. “Shooting at tea time with the kids was my favourite episode,” she admits, adding, “They just speak their mind, even when the cameras are rolling. Besides, it was so hot (in the studio), that in the first 10 minutes, all their interest in pleasing me went out the window.”
It’s obvious that the format of the show borrows quite liberally from Lawson’s hit series, Nigella’s Feasts, which gains its popularity, no doubt, as much from the delicious food as from the host’s curvaceous figure. But point this out to the model chef and she says, “I can’t help the fact that I’m pretty and come from the modelling world. But I’m no goddess of desire. In fact, I’m quite the runaway mouth, saying what I want, and I’m too intelligent to put on an act.” She insists that the poster of her in a fitted red dress, playing with a chilli (Penelope Cruz in Woman On Top, anyone?), was not really about the sex appeal. She says, “There are only so many things in the kitchen that are hot!”