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Selena Gomez says that every time she was asked in an interview what she would love to do if she weren’t singing and acting, she has the same response: “I’d always answer, ‘I’d be a chef,'” she says. The one problem? She wasn’t exactly good at cooking.
So when the pandemic hit, and she, like most people, was stuck in her home for months, the 28-year-old took the opportunity to create Selena + Chef, an HBO Max unscripted series in which she learns to cook under the virtual tutelage of a professional chef (the first season’s guests included Ludo Lefebvre, Roy Choi, Nancy Silverton and Antonia Lofaso). “I thought it could be an interesting idea to do a cooking show and people could learn and improve their skills along with me,” she says of the series, which is eligible in the structured reality program category for Emmys.
Shot using remote cameras and featuring cameos from Gomez’s grandparents and friends, the series also has a philanthropic component, with each guest chef selecting a charity to highlight and the production donating toward that cause. The first two seasons have raised $360,000 for 23 nonprofit organizations. “When we first started discussing the show, this was the most important aspect to me,” says Gomez. “Whenever I agree to come on board with a brand partner, I always make sure there is a charity aspect to the deal.”
The series, which often features Gomez making gaffes in the kitchen, is filming its third season. “Cooking [shows seem] to cross demos, and people find them very calming. That’s been really interesting to hear, I have to say,” she says.
But don’t expect Gomez to turn to television to learn other skills anytime soon. She says, “I think I’ve embarrassed myself enough on TV, so probably not.”
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