The New Nigella

She’s gone off the boil, has Nigella. The Kitchen Goddess hasn’t been seen on our screens since her bout of bad publicity – she wasn’t the last to find out not all is sweetness and light marrying a sugar daddy.

I also love Poh, but she’s not exactly the goddess variety for all her talents and charm – so who to replace the voluptuous, sumptuously sensual Nigella? I needn’t have worried – someone has come along. She’s a real gem, is Ms Rachel Khoo. Now her first series, admittedly, didn’t really have much of an effect on me – NL was still being beamed in. I watched a few episodes of Rachel and it was a novel idea, but little else so I decamped. The idea? A Brit cooking up a storm in a tiny Parisian garret for pernickety French foodies seated in her pop-up restaurant for two. And to add a bit of drama, she only has only a couple of gas rings to work with. It became all the rage in the City of Love. To attain a place at the minuscule eatery was of great social cachet. Seizing her chance, she spruiked it as a book, with its stunning popularity leading to the tele show, ‘The Little Paris Kitchen’. This was followed up with another publication, ‘My Little French Kitchen’.

khoo_v_

But she didn’t grab me then. Missing Nigella, when “Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook – Cosmopolitan Cook’ appeared on SBS’s listings back in April, I tuned in to give her another go. She certainly grabbed me this time. Goodbye Nigella.

Ms Khoo is no overnight sensation. Her success is based on general talent and an ability to self promote, as well as a soupçon of luck, as much as her culinary qualifications. Her looks have not hampered her either. Her initial training was in artistic design – thus her attractive illustrations in her ‘Notebooks’. As well as the series I watched, there’s ones on London and Malaysia in the pipeline. Hopefully SBS will do the right thing. Why Malaysia? Well her exotic appearance is down to a Malay-Chinese father and an Austrian mother – she was bought up in a London suburb. There’s also a whisper that she may be on her way to Oz for a season, given her popularity here.

At some stage our ‘new Nigella’ decided to combine her design talents with her love of tucker and devote her life to that. With six hundred quid in her pocket she set herself up in Paris, underwent training at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu, worked as an au pair, behind a perfume counter and ran bakery workshops. Then she took a chance. One day she walked into the offices of Penguin in Paris and hawked her idea for a book based around home made muesli bars. And now, seeing her in her latest small screen offering, who wouldn’t be charmed by her? The honchos at the publishing house certainly were and she was on her way.

‘The Little Paris Kitchen’ hit a nerve in the UK, drawing in over a million and a half viewers per episode, but it was the ‘Cosmopolitan Cook’ that made me a fan.

Rachel Khoo

Garbed in her trademark retro vibe, with thirty-something Ms Khoo there’s none of the overt lasciviousness of the original Goddess in her shtick. She is reported to have mused that she was unsure whether the great Nigella was all that wonderful an advertisement for women in the kitchen. I’ll hedge my bets on that one. For me, as with Nigella – it’s partly in the lips coated in bright hues, the fullness of the curves, but mostly in the eyes – always the eyes – that has me glued. There are the recipes too.

This latest show was also just so sunshine-y. Our charming host took me to such culinary meccas as Provence, Istanbul, the Amalfi Coast and Barcelona. To vary this southerness a tad there were also excursions to Nordic regions. What Rachel K ascertained in these locales she tweaked back in her small London flat in order to present lip-smackingly creative meals for an assortment of mates.

Thanks to Ms Khoo I no longer yearn for more doses of the other one – but if they happen to appear they won’t be ignored by me. But now for this ageing appreciator of all that’s good that comes out of a kitchen, Rachel Khoo is one to savour.

Ms Khoo’s website = http://www.rachelkhoo.com/

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