A recent Hunter survey revealed that 54% of us are cooking more and 46% of us are baking more than we were half a year ago. It’s no surprise, then, that cooking shows, a niche that’s grown in popularity over recent years, continue to attract new viewers. But it’s attracted some unexpected hosts too: Selena Gomez (no stranger to springing surprises on her fans), Amy Schumer and Kelis have all launched cooking shows this year, and in some way, they’re all about learning.
Selena Gomez: Selina + Chef
Selina + Chef was released on August 13 on HBO and maxPOP. Based on the concept that Gomez has been spending more time in the kitchen than she’s used to, she is joined by a different chef each episode as she learns about different cuisines and cooking tips. Each episode features a food based charity and documents Gomez’s journey of learning how to cook, inviting the audience to cook along at home.
The show is shot in Gomez’s own kitchen. In celebration of the news that it has been renewed for another season, she took her viewers on a tour, showing off her ‘pasta area’ and a dedicated tea and coffee station. These small details are what makes her show relatable to viewers: this is a real kitchen as much about a morning cup of coffee as it is about cooking full meals. Her kitchen features an espresso machine and a jar of pods, suggesting that she may not be a coffee connoisseur. Despite the variety of ways you can brew coffee at home, there does not appear to be a French press, a dripper or a percolator in sight. Perhaps different cultural approaches to coffee will be lessons in the new series.
Amy Schumer: Amy Schumer Learns to Cook
Also renewed for a second season, Amy Schumer Learns to Cook was released on May 11 on Food Network. Another show following a celebrity on her culinary journey, it follows Schumer making cocktails while her husband, Chris Fischer, teaches her to cook. Season 1 was entirely self-shot at home, and again features charity work. In this case, Schumer was shown donating to domestic violence charities and to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers Fair Food Program.
Season 1 was noted for its relatable themes, including pasta night, brunch and tacos. The second season premiere shows the couple making family-favorite freezer foods from scratch, including potstickers and potato skins. The cocktail theme is set to continue in Season 2, and Schumer will continue to use her platform to promote charitable causes.
Kelis: Cooked With Cannabis
Moving away from the learn-to-cook theme, Kelis’ show, Cooked With Cannabis, is a competitive show in which three chefs compete for $10,000. Dishes must all be cannabis-infused, and Kelis teams up with Leather Storrs to judge the creations. The show was released on Netflix on April 20, and features a variety of guest tasters, including Ricki Lake, Too $hort and Mary Lynn Rajskub. Kelis said on Instagram that that the show is more than it seems: “Many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together,” she said, speaking about the use of cannabis as a culinary ingredient. Kelis may not be learning to cook the dishes herself, but learning is still an integral theme of the show.
It’s been an unusual year for the entertainment industry, and these three celebrity cooking shows highlight a new category within the niche. Cooking shows are no longer simply about us learning to cook: celebrities are keen to show us that they’re learning too.