Nadia G

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Cookin’ for Trouble

Roll over, Rachael! Get back, Giada! Back off, Bobby! There’s no other cooking show host that can quite match the high-octane shaking and baking that hip creator-host Nadia Giosia, a.k.a Nadia G, pulls off so freakin’ flawlessly in her wildly popular series, Bitchin’ Kitchen.

Debuting as a three minute webisode in 2007 created by Montreal native Giosia, Bitchin’ Kitchen became a hit faster than you could stick a spork in a vat of lasagna, thanks to Nadia G, an outlandishly funny kitchen vixen who’s a highly interesting stew of Italian-slang slinging guidette, old-school rock ’n’ roll maven with bombshell looks, offbeat comedienne with Sedaris-family brilliance and seasoned, home-schooled cook who’s been hailed as the “Julia Child of the Net Generation.”

Bitchin’ Kitchen eased its way onto Food Network Canada in 2010 and then into America on the Cooking Channel, making it the first online lifestyle entertainment brand to jump successfully to primetime television and become a top-rated show, a testament to Giosia’s innate talent, smart maximization of social media and deep reverence of her boisterous Italian-Canadian family’s sacred cooking. Season 2 premieres on November 2.

The irreverent yet informative comedy cooking show is set in a sparkly, colorful kitchen replete with animal print decor, guitar-shaped spatulas, skulls and kooky plastic baby dolls. It features Nadia G pondering life’s everyday situations with a mad dash of humor – along with the help of a few zany male food correspondents – then whipping up coinciding meals. Those meals are focused more on placating viewers after ugly break ups or during raging “PMScapades” instead of executing pristine meals on a Hamptons beachfront to a cross-section of fabulous friends. As the perfect conjoined twin to her successful show, Giosia wrote, designed and released her first cookbook, Bitchin’ Kitchen: Rock Your Kitchen and Let the Boys Clean Up the Mess, in 2009 to a legion of fans hungry for seriously good recipes peppered with all the delicious kitchen lunacy they could stomach.

Now, her second cookbook, Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen: Cookin’ for Trouble, drops on October 25 and is chock-full of recipes inspired by sources such as Giosia’s family and fans, Nadia G’s sage and signature “Nadvice,” gorgeous photos and more screamingly hysterical anecdotes from the glamorous gastro-guru herself. New Orleans Living had a bitchin’ chat with the super nice, smart as a whip and sweetly humble Giosia, and is stoked to get into the kitchen and rustle up some of her fabulously killer chow next time hangover pangs strike!

Hey, Nadia! Thank you so much for taking some time out to talk. I’m such a huge fan of Bitchin’ Kitchen. I look forward to watching it each week.

Aw, my pleasure, Christine. Thank you so much! It’s really beautiful to hear.

I mean, Bitchin’ Kitchen is right up there with my other favorites: Curb Your Enthusiasm and Hoarding: Buried Alive. (Laughs).

Ohhh man, wow, to be up there with those shows! That is an honor, thank you. (Laughs).

(Laughs). And I adore your first cookbook, Bitchin’ Kitchen: Rock Your Kitchen and Let the Boys Clean Up the Mess. It’s like reading a good campy, saucy, hilarious novel that just happens to be loaded with a bunch of really awesome recipes. And now your second cookbook, Bitchin’ Kitchen: Cookin’ for Trouble is out this month, which is really exciting. …

I tell you, we broke so many rules and changed the game with our first cookbook, which is like you said: A lot of people can read it cover to cover or read it in bed, which is not the typical way you’d experience a cookbook. So we sat down and said all right, we gotta kill this next one! This time we’re delving into “Girl’s Night In,” “Back-Of-The-Fridge Bachelor Brunch” and stuff. And it’s just gorgeous; it’s beautiful LaChapelle-esque photography. The repertoire of recipes was able to be expanded by my family by including some of the most delicious stuff that I grew up with – with a bitchin’ spin on it, of course. There’s a lot of love in this cookbook. And they always say it takes a community to raise a child, but it also takes a community to make a cookbook, and we actually had a contest where the recipes of five fans are featured in the new cookbook. We’ve had a lot of success, so it’s been great to take the fans for a ride, too.

I love how the chapters are divided into moods or situations with hilarious anecdotes, like “Dysfunctional Family Pizza Night,” where you describe the story of your dad pitching salami at you, saying “Catch it in your mouth Nadia! Come on! Whaddya good for?! And your mother yelling, “Stop it Joe! She’s not a cat!” (Laughs).

Yeah, yeah! (Laughs). All of those beautiful, funny, quirky moments and us not taking everything so seriously are why people love this show. We’re not afraid to poke fun at situations and just lay it all out on the table and shkoff a great meal while we’re at it; why not? And that’s what Bitchin’ Kitchen is all about at its core. Food brings your family – well, your family and your thighs – closer together! (Laughs). In the kitchens I grew up in, it was all about laughs and great conversation and of course the wonderful food, but everything that surrounds it is just as wonderful.

You say that your training is from the culinary institute of Hard Wooden Spoon Whacks. (Laughs). That’s cool, because it makes people without lots of cooking experience feel like they too could try their hand in the kitchen.

Absolutely. You don’t need to be a three-star Michelin chef to make a great meal or a food snob to enjoy one. Anyone can cook up a great meal. I learned from the women in my family, and they certainly didn’t go to culinary school and to be frank with you, some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten have been home-cooked meals. My family’s recipes aren’t only delicious, the food is real soul food with plenty of emotional attachment to it. I love going to restaurants and seeing what the chefs are making, but for myself and I know for you and for lots of people out there, some of the warmest memories are of meals eaten at home. I think a lot of people are just too intimidated by the kitchen and one should not be afraid to make a mess.

I absolutely love your hometown, Montreal. What a marvelous food city! Of course, New Orleans really loves its restaurants. Plus, we cherish home cooking and hold dear those recipes that our families have passed on throughout the generations. And you know, New Orleans has a tremendous Italian and Sicilian heritage, and often Italian and Creole foods are kind of morphed together on menus here.

Oh yeah, Montreal is great. It’s a big multi-cultural city with a lot of immigrants, so you get to experience all these different flavors first-hand. And New Orleans is definitely a huge foodie town. I would love the opportunity to come down there and taste some of that Sicilian and Creole fusion. You are making me think how delicious it would be to have crawfish arancini! New Orleans sounds delicious – crazy and delicious. I would love to check out the jazz bands down there and the whole music scene. It just seems so rich with culture. I think I’d have a great time shkoffing some great food and getting kicked out of a few bars down there! (Laughs).

(Laughs). Cool! Speaking of cool, Lou Reed gives you a shout out on the back cover of your new cookbook. …

Isn’t that crazy? I am still in shock. I grew up listening to the Velvet Underground and to watch Lou Reed, one of my teenage idols, reading the book and being blown away by it, that was just crazy. Just truly unbelievable!

And Bitchin’ Kitchen is so dedicated to rock ’n’ roll and its attitude and spirit. Music is a big part of your show and is obviously important to you.

Aw, it’s so important to me. I love music; it really is a massive part of my life. And you are so right in pointing out about the music and the rock ’n’ roll attitude. I think we’re just tapping into something unique. This fierce female attitude, and the rock ’n’ roll attitude that goes with “This is who I am, and I’m not afraid to do this” is what a lot of people are responding to. I love writing comedy songs and we aired the first ever music video on a cooking show in Season 1. I’ve got some more music up my sleeve for Season 2 that I’m excited about.

The show’s lack of pretension about food is refreshing. Bitchin’ Kitchen is the hot magenta leopard print to the beige of many cooking shows. No wonder it is one of the top shows on the Cooking Channel.

What’s interesting about Bitchin’ Kitchen is that we happened to tap into a hunger for something a little less vanilla, and it’s been exceptional to see just how many people out there really wanted the double dark chocolate with fleur de sel! (Laughs). I’m just stoked at all the response.

For real, leather and chains have never worked so well in the kitchen! (Laughs). So tell us about the crazy food correspondents on Bitchin’ Kitchen, and why it’s a good idea to let the boys clean up the mess in the kitchen.

Ha! Yeah. There’s definitely a bit of female empowerment going on there, and the characters on the show are just super fun, and they really make Bitchin’ Kitchen whole. We’ve got The Spice Agent, who basically gives us the goods on the featured spice on any given episode but winds up talking more about himself and the weird situations he gets himself into. We’ve got Panos the Fish Guy, who’s just super nutty, and that’s actually his real wife on the show that’s constantly yelling at him. Panos’ family has been in the fish business for generations, for real, in Montreal. He’s such an interesting character – crazy yet still conservative and super religious. Then we’ve got Hans, the one who’s always shirtless, greased up and super ripped. I grew up watching women in bikinis selling everything from toiletries to beer, and I felt like when the day came for me to get my show, I would kind of paint a bit of reverse sexism into the picture! (Laughs).

Well it all works very well. So what’s been the response from other cooking show hosts about Bitchin’ Kitchen?

I was shocked at the great response and how everyone loves this show. I met Emeril Lagasse and said, “Hi, my name is Nadia, I have a cooking show called Bitchin’ Kitchen …” and he goes, “Oh yeah, I know, I DVR it.” I’m like, whoa! OK! This is really cool. So yeah, all the cooking show hosts love Bitchin’ Kitchen too because it’s something different. And I think they’re excited that we’re shaking up the lifestyle space as well.

What are some of the accolades that you get from fans?

People love the comedy, the laughs, the attitude. They love the weird facial expressions. I get a lot of comments on that! I think it’s really striking a chord with people. Some fans have even got Bitchin’ Kitchen tattoos. I mean, I’m like, OK, that’s pretty unbelievable. Like how many cooking shows do people get tattoos of? (Laughs).

What are some pick up lines that people have used on you, and do you let them down easy?

Sometimes I let them down easy, sometimes not so much; it depends. (Laughs). If someone put a little effort into the pickup line and it’s cute, that’s one thing. There can be other instances where men can be extremely obnoxious, and I don’t take that kind of stuff and I don’t think any woman should, you know? That thing with guys that stare at you – it’s just so frickin’ impolite! You can appreciate someone’s looks but to stand there staring … anyway, we’re working on it, to kind of empower women and get that stiletto aim sharper and hopefully in the next few generations there won’t be so much of it.

Another great reason to wear stilettos! (Laughs). In addition to all the hilarity and rock ’n’ roll, the dishes you turn out on the show look fabulous and make me hungry. And your new cookbook has some great new recipes in it. I want to knock down a chunk of that peanut butter pie!

Oh man! That is super easy! It’s a no-bake dessert and part of the “Student Shkoff-Fest” chapter, since students really don’t have access to much except the beer fridge! It’s just cream cheese, peanut butter and whipping cream that’s folded together with a little raw sugar. You just pop it in the fridge to firm up and there’s a chocolate whipped cream you slather on it. I’m super excited about its salty pretzel crust because it balances out the sweetness. It can be made in individual ramekins, too.

I bet you love Halloween. …

I love Halloween! One of my best girlfriends is a special effects makeup artist so we’re able to take the whole creepy stuff to another level with the makeup and we always have a lot of fun. This year, I’m going for a dead doll look with the perma-smile done in stitches. Halloween must be crazy in New Orleans, huh?

It’s wild! It’s basically a holy day of obligation here. (Laughs). Like Christmas for many New Orleanians.

I’d love to experience Halloween in New Orleans. Halloween food can be challenging, ’cause sometimes it looks scary but tastes horrible! I have a recipe where flavor is not sacrificed for scariness. I make Bocconcini eyeballs in an Italian blood salsa that’s delicious. You take Bocconcini cheese balls and carve out little holes and use sliced green olives with pimentos for the actual eyes, and you wrap that in Prosciutto di Parma. You make a fresh Italian salsa with tomatoes, onion, garlic, herbs, balsamic vinegar and olive oil and you place the eyes in the salsa. You can serve that up with some creepy crostini. It’s creepy and delicious!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie
From Cookin’ for Trouble by Nadia G of Bitchin’ Kitchen

I have a great low-fat dessert that’ll help you avoid the Freshman 15. But this isn’t it. Nope, we’re
indulging in a no-bake cream cheese peanut butter pie with a salty pretzel crust, topped with
chocolate whipped cream.

Servings: 8 | 30 minutes + 3 hours setting time | Easy

Grocery List
• 1 1/4 cups salted pretzels
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped fine
• 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
• 1/2 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
• 3 cups 35 percent fat whipping cream
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
• Crushed peanuts (optional)

Gear:
• Food processor
• Pie plate
• Whisk
• Medium saucepan
• Medium bowl

THE CRUST
Add the salted pretzels to a food processor and pulse until fine. In a large bowl, mix together the pretzel crumbs, 1/4 cup brown sugar and melted butter. Press the crust mixture into a 9” round pie plate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

THE FILLING
Whip the cream cheese with a 1/4 cup of brown sugar and peanut butter, until smooth. Spoon the filling into the pie shell and refrigerate for 1 hour.

CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM
Heat the cream in a saucepan just until it starts to steam; don’t let it boil. Remove it from the heat. Add the chopped chocolate and whisk until melted. Refrigerate for an hour.

SHKIAFFING IT TOGETHER
Once the chocolate cream is cool, whip it until thick. Slather the pie with the chocolate whipped cream. Garnish with crushed peanuts and refrigerate for another couple of hours to set.

-CHRISTINE FONTANA