Netflix’s new kitchen nightmare, Cooking With Paris, isn’t the first time a celebrity has been shoehorned into a cooking format – but after several hours of watching the titular Hilton fail to cook anything remotely edible, we’ve had to conclude that it is definitely the worst.
TV history is strewn with similar kitchen-based projects, falling at various points on the spectrum of success. Kelis immersed herself in the culinary world many years prior, even graduating from Le Cordon Bleu cookery school, and she popped up on Netflix last year in the never talked about Cooking with Cannabis; Selena Gomez forewent the restaurant recipe boxes during lockdown and went straight to the chefs themselves for – wait for it – Selena + Chef; Snoop Dogg finally gave in to the collab we’ve all been demanding and made Potluck Dinner Party with Martha Stewart; Cooking with the Stars is also apparently a thing that exists.
Much of this wreaks of ‘something to do during the pandemic to make a bit of cash’ and we all know that Snoop never shies away from a chunky pay cheque, even if it is for one of the most annoying UK advertising campaigns of 2020. Nearly all aforementioned public figures, however, could be said to have contributed something worthwhile to culture in the past… nearly all. Let’s talk about Cooking with Paris, shall we?
In all cooking shows there must be jeopardy – will they make the cut, will the restaurant be saved, will the important person they are presenting the food to like the dish? In this show, the jeopardy seems to be Paris Hilton herself. She’s not a morning person, she has never really cooked before and her favourite “food group” is cereal… the naivety is not endearing. In fact, very little about this series is.
Commissioned off the back of a YouTube video of Hilton making a disaster of an almost-lasagne, the series opens with a montage of her wearing a pink ballgown in a supermarket, being all Paris Hilton. ‘Hahaha look at her – isn’t this unwittingly humorous, and isn’t this a funny set of fish-out-of-water circumstances’ we’re supposed to think… yet within roughly 30 seconds of this delightful skit starting, I’m checking my phone and longing for the sweet release of death.
Throughout the show, Hilton is so utterly absent that, unless you really concentrate, there’s almost a vacant space on the screen where she’s supposed to be – a Paris Hilton-shaped void into which all hope and joy is sucked. Food is evidently as incidental to her as the plight of the underclass, with the central theme to this particular episode something to do with turning marshmallows blue like the ones in Lucky Charms (“TOP TIP!” says a graphic, “Make it blue with blue food colouring!”)
Later, Kim Kardashian is invited over for a fluffy cloud-themed brunch. This theme means the aforementioned marshmallows, plus a frittata, French toast, a lot of white balloons and some empty conversation. The valley girl throaty drawl, dull chat included, is doubled down upon once Kardashian arrives, though to be fair to ol’ Kim, she does know a bit more about cooking than Hilton – at one point in response to her friend asking “Why does this keep turning brown?” Kardashian answers “because it’s cooking”. In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
The only vaguely relatable thing about the whole series is that everything in the kitchen isn’t already set out and measured – that much we can identify with – but this is a 40-year-old woman who doesn’t know what tongs are. Once again, this is not endearing. It’s not a cooking show, it’s barely a show.
Celebrity cannot be the sole ingredient for a cooking series. Much like the soufflés MasterChef contestants are so fond of cooking, there needs to be a decent mix, in order to give it some flavour and substance. No one wants to eat whipped egg whites on their own – they’re utterly unlikeable and insipid.