Like many of us, Selena Gomez needed something to do when quarantine hit. Her attempt to become a better cook is the subject of a series currently streaming on HBO Max.
In “Selena + Chef,” the actress, singer and songwriter brings viewers into her kitchen for what she calls an “unapologetically authentic cook-along.” In each episode, she’s joined remotely by a different master chef as she tackles a variety of cuisines, picks up culinary tips, tricks and techniques and deals with kitchen misadventures like missing ingredients or a smoking oven.
So it’s the good, the bad and the ugly as Gomez tries her hand at dishes such as a French omelet, spicy miso ramen, Korean breakfast tacos, seafood tostados and a cheese souffle under the virtual supervision of Antonia Lofaso, Ludo Lefebvre, Angelo Sosa, Roy Choi, Nyesha Arrington and others. Family and friends serve as her tasters as they determine whether the meal is a success or a failure.
Cooking before the watchful eyes of viewers is nothing new to Gomez, who often cooks with friends on social media. But here doing it with the virtual assistance of experts, she found the experience much more intimidating.
“But it was super fun,” she says. “Everybody was so great and you know … I enjoy connecting with people this way. You know, I think that’s one of my favorite parts of my job. You step on a film set and you’re meeting incredible people, and then you’re, you know, in music working with incredible people. And now, being able to get some of the greatest chefs onboard with this … it just came together. And I think that it was fun, and I think it was … something people should enjoy.”
As for what she did well, Gomez cites the miso soup, however the octopus was an experience she’d be fine with never having to repeat even though it came out delicious. And the French omelet continues to give her trouble despite its apparent simplicity, although she did pick up a useful technique.
“There was this trick where, because it has to be kind of circle-ish, you can use a wet towel and you can kind of press it over the edges so that it looks perfect,” she explains. “And so I’ve been doing that with a few things, not even just an omelet, just like presentation. I’ve never cared more about presentation than I do now.
George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.