Is Selena Gomez’s quarantine cooking show really about cooking?

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Back in May, we heard that Selena Gomez was one of the unusual picks to get her own quarantine cooking show. The idea, as we were told, is that Selena loves food but doesn’t know her way around a kitchen, so a bunch of accomplished chefs were going to educate her over Zoom and we’d see the results in real time. Well, now it’s here and we can see just what all the yelling is about:

I’m still not totally sure what I’m supposed to expect. According to the blurb under the trailer, it says Selena is learning to cook, so this is the rudimentary basics of cooking? I guess that could be helpful since it looks like quarantine will never end, but the trailer doesn’t talk technique or ingredients at all. The review in Variety gives a little more information, claiming this show, with all its imperfections on display, is the perfect commentary on 2020.

Admitting to how much one doesn’t know, in an era bent on proving our incompetence, is humbling enough for most of us. But it seems especially difficult for celebrities.

Which makes “Selena + Chef,” a new HBO Max series, the second of its type in this period, seem like a proportional, frank, and real response to the moment, as well as the second to be truly about living in 2020 without addressing the terrors of the present head-on. Here, the celebrity-profile aspect is intact, as the singer and actress Selena Gomez comes to learn to prepare various dishes with the help of a different pro chef, teleconferenced in for the occasion, each episode.

Gomez is treated with a sort of careful gentleness by her tutors, who urge her on through the preparation of genuinely complicated dishes with tones of soft, loving ministration. These are chefs who’ve been through the fire of restaurant kitchens and bring as little of that competition as they can to their engagement with their new charge. It’s a brief that fits some chefs more comfortably than others: Gomez’s first episode, in which she admits to not having used her kitchen yet before just bringing an omelette over the finish line and undercooking soufflés, sees her mentor coaching her, by the end, in slightly more clipped tones than those with which he’d begun.

Not merely is Gomez forcing herself through a challenging mission, learning to cook, she’s also doing so while learning to show us aspects of herself she’d resisted giving up thus far. For anyone who’s found layers of self-protection stripped away during the COVID era, it’s the mere fact of this, more than any one disclosure, that seems like a powerful statement by a uniquely guarded star. And it’s that act — marshalling her power as a public figure by being willing to come down to our level — which may be the skill, learned in isolation and practiced over weeks, that ends up serving her more than cooking for one ever could.

[From Variety]

If you combine the review and the trailer, this sounds more like a Selena Gomez reality show. Variety likened this to Amy Schumer’s cooking show with her husband Chris Fischer (which the reviewer also likes). The main difference is that Amy and Chris obviously have an affectionate relationship that Amy can lean on whereas the chefs coaching Selena, all of whom came up in professional kitchens, are not letting her off the hook as easily. That could be either interesting or induce PTSD for those of us who’ve worked with high-level chefs in restaurants. However, it sounds like Selena is not asking them to go easy on her, that she signed up to be vulnerable and that’s what she’s giving us. Variety also mentioned the other people in the kitchen with Selena are her grandparents and roommates who provide a good balance between Selena the person and Selena the star.

The show sounds sweet. But is doesn’t sound like a cooking show. To be fair, it’s called Selena + Chef, not Learn to Cook with Selena. I like her, and I’ll probably give this a shot to see exactly what it is. But I don’t need a show that perfectly exemplifies 2020. Every hobby/task/endeavor I undertake is an attempt to escape this year, not embrace it.

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Photo credit: YouTube/HBO Max

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12 Responses to “Is Selena Gomez’s quarantine cooking show really about cooking?”

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  1. Priscila says:

    Her grandpa looks like Willen dafoe-

  2. wheneight says:

    Are those her grandparents? They look so young! I’ll probably watch just to see her kitchen.

    • TIFFANY says:

      Selena’s mother was a teenage mother. I think she was 16 when she gave birth to Selena. There is a high gap between she and her younger siblings.

  3. sa says:

    I was browsing on hbo max yesterday and watched an episode. It’s fine and she seems likable enough to watch and enjoy this. It’s the kind of show I’ll watch again at the end of a long day when I just don’t want to think.

    Slight spoiler if you don’t want to know how the soufflés turned out:

    I’m actually a little annoyed on Selena’s behalf, in the episode I watched, they made soufflés, and the chef told Selena to use the convection oven. She said she didn’t have it so she just used her regular oven and the chef did not adjust the cooking time for her. I used to have a convection oven, and one of the very first things I learned was to shorten cooking times when I use it. If I know that, then an professional chef definitely knows that and he should have told her to cook her soufflés for longer when he knew that she wasn’t using a convection oven. She was just following instructions, the chef should have given her better instructions.

  4. tina says:

    what weird timing. my boyfriend and i just watched this last night and we didn’t hate it. she’s got a sweet and quirky personality, so it makes the show a little more enjoyable that way. the only thing that rubbed me the wrong way was that in the first episode, she was paired with a french chef, who had a super strong french accent (obviously). bf & i could understand him very well, but she kept interrupting him to tell him she couldn’t understand what he was saying. like, i know it was meant to be a funny part, but it kinda irked me. especially because one of the thing she wasn’t understanding was his pronunciation of creeme brulee….lol like really? maybe you’re just saying that one wrong, girl. anyways, not a bad show!

  5. Sarah says:

    This definitely sounds more like reality show than cooking show but I love food and if she’s engaging that provides the rest of the entertainment value. No idea if I can watch this based on what we subscribe to and can get here in the UK but I’d try an episode.

  6. nicegirl says:

    I have a soft spot for Selena. Kidney troubles/ lupus is hardcore.

  7. L says:

    I love food, so I like the show. It’s fun and a good escape from all the crap that is 2020. I’m glad she’s doing well.

  8. Case says:

    Seems like a cute show for the times we’re living in and Selena has grown on me recently. HBO Max feels like a myth to me at some point (I’ve heard SO MUCh about it and don’t have it lol), but this is a cool, different show to feature.

  9. Jules says:

    I like cooking shows. She’s definitely over-acting but the food looks good.