In the new Discovery+ food/lifestyle show, Star vs Food, each episode features a star who cooks under the supervision of an established chef. In the first episode, Kareena Kapoor visits The Lovefools, a fine-dining restaurant in Pali Hill, Bandra. She’s guided by chef Sarita Pereira in the making of a gourmet pizza, stuffed with truffle burrata (I doubt it could get fancier than that – the burrata is a special kind of cheese). The second episode features Karan Johar (‘I’m omnipresent,’ he says), who tries his hand at cooking a Japanese meal at Mizu Izakaya in Khar. He is guided by chef Lakhan Jethani.
Lifestyle shows – any reality TV, for that matter – are built on a certain unreality, where ordinary daily activities (cooking, eating, dining out) have to be made to seem dramatic and interesting. Nobody wants to watch a quiet chef going about their work, and these stars know this, so they cheerfully send themselves up. It’s glamorous and inane, but there is something wickedly fun about watching the rich and the famous, usually so poised and precise, go to pieces doing something as basic as cooking. Of course, in the two episodes released so far, the stars take on luxurious meals. Maybe Kapoor can manage a good dal-chaaval, but Johar freely admits he has never been inside a kitchen. The first thing chef Lakhan gets him to do is chop an onion, and he asks for a demonstration first. The chefs are endlessly kind: chef Sarita praises how hands-on Kapoor is when she goes into the next room to fetch a weighing scale.
Both Johar and Kapoor are better stars than they are anything else: they know how to entertain at the drop of a hat. Kapoor occasionally throws in fabulously self-congratulatory lines like, ‘Today, on Star vs Food, I present to you my most favourite diva in the world… obviously, me.’ Johar worries the steam from a cooking pot will ruin his ‘khoobsoorat chehra’.
The episodes are structured in the same way: the star is introduced to the chef, they chat, then they get to cooking the meal (the star cracks jokes, the chef laughs indulgently, the food gets made somehow). Then the star’s friends arrive, exclaim over the meal, play a pointless game, and the episode ends. The food, as expected, is lovingly filmed – I did not get through without getting up and scrounging in my own (decidedly less swanky) kitchen.