Coming live from Montreal, Nadia G is the outspoken, playfully aggressive host of the Cooking Channel's Bitchin' Kitchen, a comedy/cooking mash-up G. describes as "edutainment"—word to Boogie Down Productions. She also promotes Van Gogh vodka.
We sat down over a bottle of the new PB&J flavor to chew the fat (ayo!)
Complex: I’m not much of a vodka drinker. But I was impressed at how much this tastes like peanut butter.
Nadia G.: And it’s subtle, like Frangelico. Flavored vodka can hit you over the head with artificial flavor. But Van Gogh is subtle.
Do you remember the first time you tried vodka?
I’m from Montreal, where the legal drinking age is a suggestion.
Do you remember the first time you got drunk?
I was probably around 14, and I remember thinking to myself: This does not taste good—why do people do this? And then it hit me. “Oh, that’s why!” I have quite a few tattoos from that period of time. I call them the young and inebriated collection.
I remember the first time I tried beer, I was appalled.
Of course! But when you’re a kid, lots of things are appalling. Coffee is appalling, certain cheeses, yogurt. I didn’t eat yogurt for the longest time. You acquire a taste for the product, and then eventually for blackouts.
What’s an early food memory of yours?
There’s a story my family tells me. When I was 1, I was a ravenous child; I’d eat stuff off the floor. You had to clean up or else I'd do it first. So, I was at my grandmother’s house and she was serving up meatballs. She served my uncle, and I was looking at his plate, becoming so excited. But then she served me a little bowl of broth. I had no teeth; I couldn’t eat the adult food. I threw a fit— vein-popping aggression—because I wasn’t getting pasta and meatballs.
Your family’s background is Italian…
They emigrated from Italy to Montreal. I grew up speaking Italian in a French city, and went to an English school.
Do you speak French?
I speak French, Italian, Deutsch, and pretend to speak Spanish. Lots of people ask me about my accent. If you listen closely, you can hear dolphins crying.
Where does that come from?
A women has to have certain secrets.
When did you realize cooking would become a serious part of your life?
I’ve always been a food-obsessed individual. At the age of 11, I started messing around in the kitchen and my family was pretty supportive, in a “You better clean that up before I catch you kind of way.” Then, in my 20s, I became involved in sketch comedy, and began doing that live. A lot of the comedy I’ve done for Bitchin’ Kitchen is mixed with stuff I did years ago, like “I’m Never Drinking Like That Again.” During the comedy thing, I started watching Food Network and thought that it would be ideal to incorporate comedy and cooking. That’s the basic idea of my show. I get to make fun of my cake and eat it, too. We changed the game when it comes to cooking shows.
In what way?
We’re a comedy cooking show, which allows you to say things that you aren’t supposed to say in the cooking realm. People in the cooking sphere take the practice very seriously, which makes it intimidating. I’m not a classically trained chef. I want to interest people who would never get excited about cooking.
I think everybody is sick of the vanilla cooking show. That, “This is a tomato. We’re going to cut the tomato. My grandmother grew tomatoes.” Who gives a shit that your grandmother grew tomatoes? Bitchin’ Kitchen is a hybrid show, which makes it game-changing. You know, it used to be that the news was the news, but then SNL did the news. Shows like The Daily Show are the model.
What you do see as the biggest differences in food culture between America and Canada?
Montreal, it’s different than the rest of Canada. It’s a big immigrant city with lots of second- and first-generation immigrants, which makes the food culture extremely multi-cultural. You get it fresh off the boat. In Montreal, people are very much into cooking their own food rather than eating out. Maybe they’ll eat at local restaurants, but never chains.