Julia Child — or even Giada De Laurentiis — she ain’t.
On Paris Hilton’s new Netflix show, “Cooking with Paris” (premiering Aug. 4), the heiress whips up meals with various celeb friends — Kim Kardashian, Demi Lovato, Saweetie — and reveals that the kitchen, unlike an Ibiza foam party, is not her natural environment.
“I love cooking, I’m not a trained chef and I don’t want to be,” Hilton says in the show’s opening.
Turns out, Hilton doesn’t even want to wear an apron. A running gag throughout the six episodes is her cooking in designer frocks, high heels, and, of course, her signature fingerless gloves. (According to press materials, the dry cleaning bill for the production was a cool $2,000.) In a taco-focused episode, we learn a valuable lesson about not cooking while wearing a jacket with long fringe.
Hilton is clearly in on the jokes — at least some of them. The tone of the show is confounding: Is it all a ridiculous act? Somewhat ironic, somewhat sincere? Have you had enough to drink before watching it? Like an onion that Hilton doesn’t know how to properly chop, there are layers upon layers.
Hilton presents herself as a glamorous every woman who is simply looking to expand her repertoire beyond nachos, lasagna and Jell-O shots, but her “what’s a blender?” ineptitude feels more befitting of a stoned gal in her early 20s (Hilton’s age in her heyday) than a woman of 40 (her current age).
Speaking of blenders, no less than two die in the line of duty throughout the series. There are some lessons to be gleaned so that their deaths are not in vain. First and foremost, if you smell burning rubber while blending, stop blending. Also, don’t accidentally drop a metal cap into the blender when making salsa. Lastly, Hilton should probably use her considerable wealth to splurge on a Vitamix.
There are a random assortment of other cooking tips. Like Sandra Lee before her, Hilton is a fan of the “almost homemade” approach. One of her most triumphant creations, truly, is a macaroni and cheese she makes from a Kraft box, then stirs in heaps of cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan — “like literally every cheese you can imagine,” she tells her co-chef, Lele Pons. Reader, I must admit that it looked pretty tasty. A dessert that’s essentially a Funfetti cake made from a mix, then topped with a layer of flan, is a similar success.
Hilton, it has to be said, knows her limits. When a plan to make pink, heart-shaped homemade raviolis with Lovato goes shockingly awry, she has a box of fresh ravioli purchased from Eataly at the ready. Always have a backup plan, she intones. Indeed.
Another piece of advice that isn’t terrible: “Wear sunglasses when chopping onions so your eyes don’t burn, and to look hot.”
If anyone knows the importance of presentation, it’s Hilton. In the kitchen, that translates to a heavy hand with the culinary glitter and gold flake. It’s a look. She also has a lot of toothpicks and various edible toppers featuring the logos of designer brands — Chanel, Fendi — at the ready to decorate a bowl of truffle butter or cookies. It’s a lot of look.
And, perhaps influenced by the work of avant garde Spanish chefs, Hilton treats sweet and savory courses no differently. That means a holiday turkey can be dusted with as much glitter as a cookie, and even festooned with sparklers.
Hanging over the show is the idea that our pretty blonde woman-child does want to grow up, sorta. In multiple episodes, she talks about her desire to soon have twins (a girl named London, a boy also named after a city, but not Vegas, even though she loves it) and having undergone IVF, though she’s denied recent pregnancy rumors. She chats with Kardashian about their kids playing together someday.
Dressed appropriately in jeans and looking quite comfortable in the kitchen — Kris Jenner made a point of teaching Kim to cook after feeling like Kourtney went away to college unprepared — Kardashian is a down-to-earth voice of wisdom in the bizarro world that is “Cooking with Paris.” She tells Hilton, “I know you don’t want to hear this, but I hear your 40s are your best.”
The hotel heiress looks dubious. Sure, the frittata they’ve made together is fluffy and delicious, but what about that time, years ago, they were on Ibiza, partying into the wee hours and sleeping in teepees in front of Jade Jagger’s house.