The Brooks Group
Bitchin' Kitchen's Nadia G.
Back in the 1960s, Julia Child paved the way for TV cooking shows when she introduced audiences to her mostly uncomplicated yet always impressive repertoire of recipes on The French Chef. Since then, countless professional chefs as well as cooking enthusiasts/presenters have followed in her legendary footsteps. Some have been exceptional, and others not so much, while a few have been and continue to be awesome.
Nadia Giosia, a.k.a. Nadia G., is definitely one of the latter. As host of the hugely popular Cooking Channel series Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen, the Montreal native serves up her culinary creations, many of which are inspired by her own Italian background, accompanied by a healthy side of comedy and garnished with her own “Nadivce.” Wearing stilettos, an array of jewelry, and one of her “bitchin” outfits, Nadia began Bitchin’ Kitchen as a three-minute presentation on the Internet back in 2007, and the rest is history.
“I grew up in a food-obsessed Italian family like most Italians,” says Nadia. “In my 20s I began getting into comedy and started producing skit comedy online. At one point I said to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome to combine the comedy with my love of food,’ and I came up with the idea for Bitchin’ Kitchen, where I could make fun of my cake and eat it, too.
“At first everyone was like, ‘That’s a crazy idea for a TV show,’ because cooking programming is so conservative, but we just waited for everyone to catch up to us. We stuck with the concept and ended up with a massive online following. The biggest struggle when launching something online is the expectation that the minute your site or video goes up, you’re going to have a million people clicking in, and that’s just not the case. It takes a long time to build a fan base and a lot of work to engage that fan base. So you need patience in order to stick with it.
“Eventually the networks noticed and decided that America was ready for a cooking show that was a little less vanilla, and we’re definitely double dark chocolate. We were really lucky, too, in that we didn’t have to change a thing when we went from the Internet to TV. At first that was one of the things that we were afraid of, the fact that, ‘Okay, the network wants the show, but what show do they really want?’ The program was doing so well online, though, and if it ain’t broke, you don’t need to fix the jetpack jokes, right?”
In 2010, Bitchin’ Kitchen premiered on Food Network Canada, and in October of that same year, it began showing Stateside on The Cooking Channel. As she gets down to work in her brightly-colored kitchen, which features, among other things, a zebra-print floor, it is obvious that Nadia is queen of her domain. She not only oozes confidence - in the coolest way ever, of course - when preparing her recipes, but also makes viewers comfortable with her brand of comedy and easygoing nature.
“I love it all,” she enthuses. “I love food and by having a cooking show I get to move out of my comfort zone a little bit with the stuff that I cook. Seeing that I need to do a new show every week, I can’t always be making pasta fagioli. So it allows me to expand my palate. Like this week we’re making foie gras croquette lollipops with a bing cherry glaze, which is not necessarily something that’s in my regular day-to-day repertoire, so that’s a lot of fun.
“The other thing I enjoy so much about the show is having all this free rein with the comedy. I mean, how lucky am I? I get to write a script and perform that comedy every week, which is rare for a comedian to be able to write their jokes and get them on TV that quickly. So for me this [Bitchin’ Kitchen] brand has really been an opportunity to express myself in a million and one different ways because it’s personality driven. So on the same day I could design a new t-shirt, write a song, create a comedy monologue, and design a thumbnail for the website.”
Like any good recipe, there is plenty of prep that goes into each episode of Bitchin’ Kitchen before the cameras start rolling. “The episode actually begins long before we get on set because unlike most cooking shows, this one is scripted,” explains Nadia. “So first things first, I have to come up with a theme and then recipes that are going to work well with that theme.
“The script then gets a couple of rewrites, and once that’s done, the night before we shoot, I sit in front of my mirror and practice it. That’s when I come up with other jokes and different ways of delivering certain jokes or information.
“After that, the script goes through one final rewrite, and then the following day I get on-set and start off by spending two hours in hair and make-up, because we always try to do these elaborate fashion forward looks. For us, each episode is more like a fashion shoot in terms of the look as opposed to a cooking show. Once I’ve gone through hair and make-up, I get on-set and start performing, and that’s it. It takes three days to shoot one of these episodes, so it’s much more like doing a sitcom than a cooking show. It’s a very labor-intensive process, but it’s a labor of love, so what more can I ask for.”
As Nadia mentioned, each episode of Bitchin’ Kitchen has its own theme, from “Student Shkoff-fest” to “Back-of-the-Fridge-Bachelorfest.” As you have probably guessed, it takes more than a catchy string of words to make a doable episode.
“Choosing a theme is a bit of a process because there are certain ones that on paper may sound like they’ll work, but they’re too one-note, or essentially they’re one paragraph of comedy,” she says. “So I look for what I like to call an umbrella theme, which is a theme that has a variety of different tangents. A good example would be the, ‘Breakup Bonanza.’ There are so many different things to talk about when breaking up, whether it’s the top reasons to break up with someone, what to say when someone doesn’t get the message, you know, and the list goes on.
“So I have to find a theme that has enough meat to it - pardon the cheesy pun - for me to able to write a solid episode. That being said, one of my favorite episodes this [second] season is ‘Bitchin’ Booty Camp Extreme,’ and from last year it’s ‘The Breakup Bonanza.’ That has one of my favorite lines that I ever wrote - ‘Even if you and your ex don’t agree on the little things - like he says tomato and you say, go f**k yourself - you’ll both agree that this salad rocks.’ I love that line so much that it’s actually on a new limited edition t-shirt right now in our store. If you want to check it out, it’s a really beautiful and hilarious t-shirt.
“I also love our Christmas episode this year [“Feast of the Seven Dishes”], which was the first time we did a holiday special, so we were very excited about it. Every episode has something that I love, though, and we try to do something different with each one. We’re still working on season two right now [mid-December] and we’ll be shooting until February. This season is a long one - it has 16 episodes plus the Christmas one which just aired.”
In every episode of Bitchin’ Kitchen our host turns to not one but three cooking cohorts to share their expertise with viewers. “I have food correspondents, which was kind of inspired by The Daily Show,” notes Nadia. “I thought to myself, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be perfect to have food correspondents on a cooking show where you sometimes need more in-depth food information,’ and truth is stranger than fiction - these guys really are as ‘crazy’ as you see on the show.
“The Spice Agent truly is a bipolar Israeli who talks about spices but most of the time ends up talking more about his personal problems. Then we’ve got Panos, the fish and meat guy. In real life his family has been in the fish business for generations. They have a little shop in Montreal called ‘Le Gout de la Mer,’ which means ‘Taste of the Sea.’ So you can actually go see Panos, who’s hilarious, and pick up some smoked salmon, which I might add is some of the best in the city. Last but not least we have Hans, the scantily clad food correspondent who is always shirtless, greased-up and completely ripped. He’s our nutritionist and resident muscle man.”
Along with the TV series, Nadia has written two cookbooks for those who cannot get enough of her Bitchin’ Kitchen cooking. “The first book, Bitchin’ Kitchen - Rock Your Kitchen and Let the Boys Clean Up, has done extremely well,” she says. “It’s part coffee table book, part comic book and you get the recipes to boot.
“After the success of our show - we’re basically one of the top shows on The Cooking Channel - we got the opportunity to do a second cookbook, Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen - Cooking for Trouble. This time we really managed to take it to the next level with the food and thematic photography. The book is full color and features awesome recipes from me, my family, and the [Bitchin’ Kitchen] community’s as well. We had a contest and picked the five best recipes to be in the community chapter of the book. We’re very active online; our engagement level is through the roof. Some fans have even gotten tattoos of the Bitchin’ Kitchen logo [a pink heart-shaped skull with fork and knife “crossbones”]. We wanted to give something back for all the support our community has given us, so we kind of immortalized their recipes in our cookbook.”
When it comes to Bitchin’ Kitchen fans, it seems that age and other factors know no bounds. “When we came up with this concept it was like, ‘Oh, you have the perfect cooking show for the 25-40 crowd. Young people are going to love it. The fact of the matter is, we were really surprised by all the families that watch Bitchin’ Kitchen,” says Nadia. “There are a lot of kids getting into cooking. We have this one kid, Adam, who along with his mother started a blog, similar to [the 2009 feature film] Julie & Julia, where they go through and cook every Bitchin’ Kitchen recipe and make videos. That was a really wonderful surprise for us.
“We get a lot of comments like, ‘Wow, I’ve never watched a cooking show before, but I watch yours.’ We also have wives telling us, ‘This is the only cooking show my husband would ever watch, and that goes for my teenage daughter, my teenage son,’ you name it. It seems like there’s a little something for everyone in this show, whether it’s the comedy, the food, the fashion, the kooky correspondents, etc. What I love most is that it’s entertainment. You may not cook, but you watch a couple of episodes of Bitchin’ Kitchen and at the end of the day, you had a few laughs and subconsciously you also learned how to make pasta fagioli.
“So that’s the best way I think to get people cooking again. Also, we like to keep it real, which goes back to when I was young and used to hang out in the kitchen with my mom and my aunts. They weren’t wearing cardigans and they didn’t take little bird bites of food, either. These women were loud, hilarious and a bit scary,” she jokes. “I’m sure if we all think back to our childhood memories of being in the kitchen, they would be very similar. So as much as this show is different and next gen, a big part of it goes back to the roots of the kitchen and the strong women that inhabit them.”
Just listening to Nadia talk makes you want to rush into your kitchen and starting whipping up your own gastronomic masterpieces. Where does she feel her passion for cooking stems from? “It definitely stems from my passion for eating,” she says. “I think if you love food enough, eventually you’re going to have to pick up that wooden spoon and start cooking yourself. I love to shkoff, and I definitely don’t eat to live, I live to eat,
“In terms of chefs who have inspired me, there are a few. First are the women in my family. These women can cook up a 7-course spread in less than 20 minutes. I’d put them up against a Michelin star chef any day of the week. As far as celebrity chefs, I love Anthony Bourdain, who was one of the first to bring some attitude to the cooking space. I’m also a big fan of Guy Fieri and Alton Brown. Alton was the first to have a scripted cooking show, which was very inspirational to me.
“I love Mario Batali as well, His recipes can’t be beat. I actually experienced one of Mario’s recipes through a friend, who made me this fantastic Israeli couscous with calamari. It was so delicious, and the fact that someone can reproduce a recipe of that caliber is just awesome. At the end of the day that’s what it’s all about. It’s about being able to make these recipes in the kitchen and for gourmet food to be accessible to everyone.”
As for her cooking philosophy, the Bitchin’ Kitchen host’s is two-fold. “One, make a mess,” says Nadia. “You can’t be afraid to make a mess or mess up a meal. That’s the way you learn. Secondly, rock your kitchen and have fun with it. It’s not for everyone, the granite countertop and the stainless steel appliances, but you have to express yourself in your kitchen, whether it’s through the food, the décor, whatever it takes to make you comfortable in there. That’s my philosophy both in and out of the kitchen.”
For more information about Nadia G. and Bitchin' Kitchen, check out her website. Please note, all photos above copyright of The Brooks Group.