Cookbook author and TV personality Nigella Lawson will spend a week on MasterChef Australia.
Cookbook author and TV personality Nigella Lawson will spend a week on MasterChef Australia. Channel 10

Everything that's actually quite Nigella

HER name is synonymous with home cooking, and if her recipes don't seduce you then her velvety voice will.  

Nigella Lawson, Britain television's original domestic goddess of cooking, will take over our screens this week as MasterChef's special superstar guest.  

She has sold more than three million cook books but she says her transition from journalism to food as accidental.  

"I'm a home cook; it's my favourite sort of food," she tells Weekend.  

"I didn't even think I was going to do it as a career when I was younger. It sort of happened by accident."  

After graduating from the University of Oxford with a degree in medieval and modern languages, she reviewed books for The Spectator and became the deputy literary editor of The Sunday Times in 1986 at the age of 26 .  

That led to restaurant reviews and food columns, which segued into two best-selling cookbooks and her first TV series Nigella Bites.  

By the time she first guest starred on MasterChef in 2011, Nigella had seven food shows under her belt.  

She has a special relationship with our version of the popular reality cooking show. It's the only series in the MasterChef franchise worldwide she has ever appeared on.   

Nigella Lawson pictured with MasterChef Australia hosts Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston.
Nigella Lawson pictured with MasterChef Australia hosts Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston. Channel 10

"When I come to Australia I always like the fact that there's a confident cooking that mixes different cultures but is very much its own thing," she says.   

"Australian cuisine a very bold personality which I like. I never know what I'll take back to cook in my own kitchen."

Her arrival in the MasterChef kitchen tomorrow night will cause hysteria amongst the contestants, many of whom have idolised the TV and cookbook queen.  

"Thirteen-year-olds at a Justin Bieber concert have nothing on how I feel about Nigella being here," one contestant says.  

The admiration appears to be mutual.  

"I am in awe of the way these contestants, and a lot of them are pretty young, manage the pressure and find themselves flourishing under it," she says.  

"I can't tell you how stressed I got just watching them cook in the challenges. Sometimes I had to put my hands over my eyes like a horror film; I couldn't bear to watch... I'm glad I'm eating the food."  

Never one to shy away from eating delicious food, and being filmed while doing it, Lawson will challenge the 19 remaining amateur cooks to make food "made to give pleasure, not to impress".  

From decadent cakes to the tastiest midnight snacks, it's going to be a week full of calories and flavour.   

"I think most people would be very envious of a day that meant you were sitting eating many cakes," she says. 

  "Being cooked for always feels like a treat, like a gift in a way. When people bake a cake there's something quite personal and celebratory about that; it's a joyful occasion."  

She believes bright futures in the food industry lay ahead for many of the home cooks.   

"It's remarkable how high their skill levels are," she says.  

"I'm not a particularly technical person, but I feel that gives them the freedom to focus on flavour a lot because they're not struggling with putting together quite difficult ideas. In the week I've seen how quickly some of the contestants in particular have grown and really grasped what they want to do.   

"It's like seeing an education speeded up. It's very intense and very fast. There's not much time to mull things over and you can see a contestant suddenly astonish you and themselves."  

Nigella week starts on MasterChef Australia tomorrow at 7.30pm on Channel 10.  



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