Movies & TV

We Finally Found an Endearing Cooking Show for Dummies

For every idiot in the kitchen, this one’s for you.
IMAGE HBO MAX
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Selana Gomez's HBO series finally gives viewers a cooking show geared toward dummies, or, more specifically, the 20-something idiots who don’t know their way around the kitchen. The premise is all too relatable for all the people in their 20s who’ve had to learn how to fend for themselves during the pandemic. Add in one of the world’s biggest pop stars and a legion of the food scene’s most revered chefs, and you have a hit show on your hands.

In Selena + Chef, Selena Gomez charmingly bumbles her way through her chic kitchen and her new appliances, half of which she’d never used before. At one point, she casually whips out a giant vintage wine opener that left the chef of the episode, NYC-based Daniel Holzman, appropriately befuddled. There are a lot of moments like this that serve to entertain both the viewers and the chefs. From Selena’s rainbow knives to her utter cluelessness as to how to turn on the convection button on her stove, every episode rings true the struggles of #adulting for all the 20-somethings just trying to get by.

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Selena has long portrayed herself as the good girl of Hollywood, and it’s hard to imagine her as anything else. She’s polite, if lightly annoyed, at her bossy Texan grandparents who make frequent appearances on the show (often criticizing her chopping skills). She’s refreshingly grounded in the presence of her non-famous friend posse. She commits $10,000 in donations in every episode to a charity of the chef's choice. And she isn’t afraid to display her unabashed uncertainty in the face of the screaming chefs trying to teach her something.

Which brings us to the second main character of the show: the pro chefs that take on the pop star just learning to cook. Make no mistake, this is no Gordon Ramsay spin-off. We’re pretty sure each chef was briefed not to make the pop star cry, but the very first episode will certainly leave you amused as LA restaurateur Ludo Lefebvre struggles to keep his temper in check while teaching Gomez how to cook the perfect omelette. Aside from Ludo, the rest of the legion of chefs are patient and understanding to their pupil, which will lift the spirits of viewers who are equally unsure of their own cooking skills.

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As her teachers guide her through complicated dishes, from Roy Choi’s Breakfast Tacos to Jose Andres’ Gazpacho and Pan Con Tomate, even the professional chefs can’t help but be curious about Selena’s life as a pop star. In a manner that would make the most skilled magazine interviewers jealous, these chefs are able to present sincere questions that has the singer talking candidly and vulnerably about her bipolar disorder, lupus diagnosis, immigrant upbringing, and her sullen singledom. Of course, all these take place in between the repetitive lessons on how to hold a knife properly so she doesn’t kill someone.

There will be hits and misses, undercooked food, and overcooked dishes. There will even be a fire or two, but all the episodes promise good background entertainment worthy of a long and wholesome binge-watch.

Selena + Chef seasons one and two are now streaming on HBO Go.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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