Entertainment

HBO Max's 'Selena + Chef' Is the Best Kind of COVID TV

Selena Gomez's instructional cooking show starts its second season and remains delightful.

HBO Max
HBO Max
HBO Max

To find out which platform these shows are streaming on in Australia, head to flicks.com.au.

Over the past year-geez, can you believe it’s been a year?-the entertainment industry has attempted to use the pandemic to its advantage the best it can. Doug Liman flew himself to England to make a COVID-inspired heist movie. HBO made its election-themed Coastal Elites over the internet. But those projects have just stressed me out. No matter what you do, watching celebs acting to their computer screens is never not awkward. There is one pandemic TV show that is actually soothing, even though it involves watching a pop star almost cut her fingers off multiple times.

I have recently become addicted to Selena + Chef, which begins its second season on HBO Max this week. The concept of Selena + Chef is simple: Musician and actor Selena Gomez virtually invites famous chefs into her (stunning) kitchen and they teach her how to make a meal. The hook is that Gomez is very enthusiastic, but absolutely a mess in the kitchen. As the culinary experts walk her through dishes of various difficulty levels, they also have to teach her basic skills like how not to maim herself and what the convection button on her fancy oven is. The show ends up being part-educational, part-inspirational lifestyle porn. (Did I mention her kitchen is gorgeous?) At the end, a $10,000 donation goes to the charity of Gomez’s guest’s choice. Altogether, it’s a delight.

In the second season, Selena has gotten a little more skilled since LA restaurateur Ludo Lefebvre yelled at her while teaching her how to make a French omelette in the series premiere. This batch of episodes kick off with Selena learning to make steak with Curtis Stone, getting a lesson in gumbo from Fieldtrip’s JJ Johnson, and assembling a tapas feast with the highly entertaining JosĂ© AndrĂ©s. Okay, yes, Gomez lives in a nearly $5 million home once owned by Tom Petty, with basically every kitchen appliance one could possibly need and a trendy, swanky set of iridescent rainbow knives. She doesn’t need to shop for her groceries because the contents of each meal are sent to her doorstep. Still, somehow, despite all of the privilege on display, Selena + Chef remains accessible, possibly because Selena herself is, well, pretty clueless.

The chefs are forced to really explain their methods in a way that is helpful for nearly all amateur chefs. The next time I cook rice, I plan on using the method Johnson teaches Gomez. (Don’t wash the rice. Coat it on the bottom of a pan. Fill with water to reach your first knuckle on your middle finger. Throw some bay leaves in there. Cover. Simmer on medium heat.) AndrĂ©s gives her the recipe for an egg/mayo/manchego cheese creation that is cooked via microwave and dropped on top of piquillo peppers. It seems so easy and delicious, I’m definitely going to try it. (All the recipes for the show are available here.)

Gomez does most of the work herself, but is often joined by her grandparents, who serve Statler and Waldorf vibes, and whatever pals happen to be quarantining with her at that moment. I personally love Raquelle Stevens and her “I’m just here for the ride” energy, which involves helping out occasionally, relishing in the food, and sometimes texting on screen.

Selena + Chef is actually the perfect show to watch while you’re cooking yourself, which is what I’ve been doing recently. It serves as both a soothing soundtrack and a reminder that it’s okay to fuck up. I recently had an episode playing when I broke an entire jar of capers taking them out of my fridge, scattering glass all over my kitchen floor. A very Selena move. My setup is in no way as glamorous as Gomez’s, but like her, I’m just trying to make good food in a shitty time.Need help finding something to watch? Sign up here for our weekly Streamail newsletter to get streaming recommendations delivered straight to your inbox.

Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.

Entertainment

Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.

Victoria

Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.

Queensland

BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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