New Delhi, Oct 17 IANS | 9 months ago

International celebrity chef Nigella Lawson cooks Indian chicken mughlai and her children love the dish. Now she wants to visit India to test whether she is able to match up to the local taste.


Lawson is on board as executive producer and mentor on "The Taste", a food and travel-based show which will be aired on FOX Traveller Friday.

"Because I live in London, I have eaten Indian food since I was a child and adore it. My children love my chicken mughlai but I will have to cook it in India to see if it really passes muster," Lawson said in an email interview from London.

"I would love to come to India more than anything but I am waiting to have enough time off (with my children) to be able to travel widely across the country eating as much food as possible," said the 53-year-old who is a mother of two.

"The Taste" features a panel of judges including Lawson, Anthony Bourdain and US TV chefs Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey who will select 16 contestants - both amateur and professional cooks - by tasting just one spoonful of their food while they are blindfolded.

The judges then mentor their team of four contestants, but the blind tasting continues, meaning a judge may unwittingly vote off a team member.

She finds the role of a mentor exciting.

"I actually have been a judge before, just a guest chef on 'Masterchef', but I have never been a mentor and I find the role much more exciting," she said.

As a judge, she believes: "I am tough, but I hope not unkind."

"Why I like 'The Taste' is that we are never making personal judgements on the cooks but just on their food. We are there to teach them and so to be easy would be unhelpful, she said, and added that her mentoring style is "encouraging rather than confrontational".

"I am a home cook, not a chef and therefore I don't have the shouty style many chefs have! I want to draw out their natural talent, rather than impose any one way of cooking," said Lawson, who has been in the news for her recent split from her advertising mogul husband Charles Saatchi.

Lawson turned executive producer of the show for two key reasons.

"I can never be just a hired hand, it matters to me that anything I do is how I want it to be, and the more involved I am, the more I get out of it. I was attracted to this show for two reasons - one, I liked the idea of judging the food blind as I do not ever want to make personal judgements on someone.

"Two, when I was first approached, I was told Anthony Bourdain had also been asked (at that time there were no other judge-mentors involved) and I respect and admire him so much that I knew if he were involved the show would have integrity," she said.

(Posted on 17-10-2013)