Kitchen nightmares: do we need more celebrity cooking shows?

The release of Paris Hilton’s Netflix series where she semi-cooks semi-dishes is the latest in an increasing trend of stars spending more time in the kitchen

To state the obvious, nobody is going to watch Cooking With Paris to sharpen their culinary skills. The new Netflix series piggybacks on last year’s bizarre, almost Lynchian YouTube video where Paris Hilton cooked what can only be described as an anti-lasagne, and stretches it out to a painful degree. In episode one, Hilton attempts to make marshmallows for Kim Kardashian and grunts with disgust when they make a mess of her lace gloves. In episode two, Hilton takes time out from making a funfetti flan to pose in the photo booth she installed in her living room. If you hang around long enough to find out what happens in episode three, you’re a braver soul than me.

Cooking With Paris feels like a weird little throwback. Last September’s YouTube documentary This Is Paris worked hard to put clear space between the ditzy privilege of Hilton’s public persona and the woman she is now; a middle-aged businesswoman bruised by years of trauma. But Cooking With Paris is a hard slam back into the deliberate stupidity of her Simple Life days. It feels like a wasted opportunity. It’s empty calories. It’ll probably be massive.

But then again, even if it isn’t, it doesn’t exactly have a particularly high bar to clear. Cooking With Paris is merely the newest celebrity food show. As we’re about to see, it isn’t a genre with an especially high success rate. Here are Paris Hilton’s new peers.

James May: Oh Cook

A show in which the most bearable character from The Grand Tour, a man who cannot cook, makes an entire television series about learning to cook. On paper, this is the worst idea that anyone has ever had, but its success can be attributed to two things. The first is James May’s natural curiosity – his apparently serious desire for self-improvement often overrides the hacky ‘man being crap in a kitchen’ premise – and the second is your dad’s willingness to watch anything even peripherally about Top Gear.

Selena Gomez: Selena + Chef

Yet another show where a celebrity who isn’t very good at cooking learns how to cook. This time it’s Selena Gomez, who took it upon herself during Covid to convince some of the world’s best chefs to train her over Zoom. Which reeks of entitlement, admittedly – I’m not particularly good at building concert halls, but you don’t see me badgering Frank Gehry for a FaceTime – but Gomez is just about dedicated and infectious enough to make it work. It’s a success, too; a third season has just been ordered.

Snoop Dogg: Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party

In which Snoop Dogg teamed up with culinary empress Martha Stewart for what was either a cookery programme or a competition to see who could look most awkward. Potluck Dinner Party was a bracingly old-fashioned food show, shot on a stage in front of a live audience. But there was a DJ, and in one episode Snoop and Martha burst out of a cake. The show could never decide how the two should meet in the middle; should Snoop be more professional, or should Martha twerk? There is a weird sweetness to this show, though, albeit not sweet enough to make it entirely watchable.

Amy Schumer: Amy Schumer Learns to Cook

Guess what? Amy Schumer can’t cook! Guess what? This is a show about Amy Schumer learning how to cook. Guess what? This type of television show is probably quite overdone now, thanks. Still, at least this one attempts to keep it in the family. Schumer’s cookery teacher here is her husband Chris Fischer, who trained under Mario Batali and had a stint cooking at the River Cafe. He really knows his stuff. Would this be a more informative show if everyone had just let Fischer get on with it? Probably, but that isn’t how things work around here any more.

Tiffani Thiessen: Dinner at Tiffani’s

As Saved by the Bell’s Kelly Kapowski, Tiffani Thiessen basically invented Paris Hilton. So it came as a happy surprise, in 2015, to discover that she is also quite a competent cook. In Dinner at Tiffani’s, Thiessen prepared a dinner party for her celebrity friends, including Mario Lopez, Jason Priestley and Nathan Fillion. And she was a warm, engaging, likeable host. She didn’t have to learn anything, or cock anything up, or pull irritated little faces because she was dressed too impractically to make marshmallows. It was a perfectly adequate cooking show, and as such was quite boring to watch.


Stuart Heritage

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Cooking on High: Netflix's foray into weed cuisine is half-baked
An unusual cooking competition show sees expert chefs make sumptuous meals with cannabis while a judging panel of weed enthusiasts get stoned

Jake Nevins

22, Jun, 2018 @10:00 AM

Article image
'These people aren't just statistics': behind the year's most personal look at immigration
In Netflix docuseries Living Undocumented, executive produced by Selena Gomez, eight undocumented families navigate fear and deportation in the US

Adrian Horton

03, Oct, 2019 @6:00 AM

Article image
Messy kitchens and badass ladies: how Samin Nosrat will change the face of TV cooking shows
Her award-winning cookbook broke down the basics of cooking into four elements – and now Netflix has turned it into a four-part series

Mina Holland

04, Oct, 2018 @11:00 AM

Article image
Pamela Anderson to host Pamela’s Cooking with Love, a plant-based cooking show
The long-time vegan actor’s new venture comes amid a wider reckoning over the media and public’s treatment of the former Baywatch star

Sian Cain

07, Feb, 2023 @1:55 AM

Article image
Why the Punisher’s Netflix series will need more than big guns
Daredevil introduced a character who was more nuanced than previous versions, but his spin-off series will stand or fall on villains who are worthy of him

Arturo Garcia

19, May, 2016 @7:15 PM

Article image
The 50 best TV shows of 2018: the full list
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s femme fatale takes the top spot, above political high camp, breakneck drama and the water-cooler hit of the decade

21, Dec, 2018 @11:03 AM

Article image
‘It’s how we know who we are’: behind a docuseries on African American food
In Netflix’s High on the Hog, an often misunderstood or untold history of Black food is investigated with the help of culinary historian Dr Jessica Harris

Dream McClinton

25, May, 2021 @6:58 AM

Article image
Saturday Night Live: Steve Martin and Martin Short deliver a funny episode
The friends and comedy legends smilingly needle and riff off each other, and deliver eulogies for one another’s future funeral

Zach Vasquez

11, Dec, 2022 @3:14 PM

Article image
W/ Bob and David: why the rise of sketch comedy is no brief laugh
The reboot of 90s favourite Mr Show reveals how new developments in TV have reinvigorated the sketch show – and we count down the five best of the year

Brian Moylan

16, Nov, 2015 @6:52 PM

Article image
Netflix: which shows are being binged the fastest?
A rare release of stats from the streaming service reveals an obsession with nostalgia and a lack of interest in critical acclaim

Stuart Heritage

19, Oct, 2017 @8:16 AM