Nigella Lawson has always been a fire-starter in the culinary world.
Since the mid-90s, she’s had a career in journalism, early books such as ‘How to Eat and How to Be a Domestic Goddess’, a cooking show television series, ‘Nigella Bites’ and has become a giant in the business of cooking. In the wonderful world of Nigella Lawson, her many books and multitudes of televised programs and show hosting gigs, great food comes down to great instincts, the pleasures of eating, and familial connectivity of dining.
This week, on Thursday, Nov. 10, the woman behind the new book ‘Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes, and Stories’ will present An Evening with Nigella Lawson, live at the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Perelman Theatre.
So how does Lawson prepare for an intimate evening out with curious eaters and home chefs?
“The thing is, I don’t have to prepare specifically, because I have spent a lifetime preparing,” says Lawson from London. “Besides, the real shape of the evening is dictated by the audience, the questions they might ask, and where the chat goes from there… because it is a bit like having people over for dinner and talking. And like any dinner table, you have to let everyone around the table have their say. That’s what makes each evening so special – it’s particular to who comes out that night, and what questions are sparked from the conversations we’re having. We’re not dealing in absolutes…. And it has to be spontaneous and authentic to that moment. It is like the whole of life: when you’re there, it helps to be entirely present.”
In a fashion, Lawson’s conversation with the Philadelphia audience – unrestrained – will have the feel of one of her cooking sessions. “There is structure, but within that, there is reflection… it unfolds as it will.”
Even more so, an Evening with Nigella Lawson will hold true to the fact that she does not come a chef-ing or cookbook background. “I’m not a chef, so I never had to worry about innovation. There is nothing new under the sun…and novelty is often not delicious… I’m a home cook, and coming at things from that angle.”
She laughs when considering the “idealized” world of food television — “People always have to see themselves doing it and understand how to” — is touched by how people have made explorations into culinary realms so deep and caring, and was never inspired by the written history of food writing or cookbooks.
“I wasn’t bought up with cookbooks,” says Lawson. “My mother was a great cook, and may have slightly looked down at cook books. You either cooked or you didn’t in her mind. The books that interested me were one’s that I read after I had written mine, such as ‘Home Cooking’ by Laurie Colwin… I didn’t write my first book about food until I was 38, so it was something un-expected, which is – so often – what is most true in life.”
Much of Lawson’s success, however, and what matters to those who most make food matter, comes down to something beyond the chef’s table.
“Why what I say resonates with others comes from my role as an enthusiast, talking about the wonderful things about food, and not about the right and wrong ways of doing things,” she says. “Or having them be enormously complicated. I’m outside of telling people what they should and shouldn’t eat.”
An Evening with Nigella Lawson will take place Thursday, Nov. 10, at 8 p.m. at the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Perelman Theatre. For information and tickets, visit kimmelculturalcampus.org