Cooking, Cocaine and the Nigella Story

Published: 05th January 2014 12:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th January 2014 11:42 AM   |  A+A-

A glorious year for the food business is coming to an end; the revival of the market and steady progress having brought about renewed hope. In this last conversation, let’s dwell on an unpleasant story that bothered us in the industry and managed to get much attention. It came as a shock to millions of cookery show fans and offered an insight into the private lives of stars, especially our role models in numerous professions.

03story.jpgWe are obsessed with breaking news these days, our eyes inquisitively travel towards TV screens and front covers of newspapers every so often, new stories to excite our days and easily get us talking with people. Hundreds of cameras follow public figures and famous people round the clock and feed our itchy hunger for gossip, rumours and unlikely stories. The Brand Nigella looks down the barrel today from a very promising start this year in America following her commendable success in Britain.

Nigella Lawson had a glorious career in journalism, mainly as a restaurant reviewer for Sunday Times newspaper for many years. Even though she wasn’t a trained chef, she appeared on TV screens as the Domestic Goddess in 1999 to spice up the sex appeal of cooking, to bring sanity to evenings and to convince people that cooking could be casual and interesting!

As Nigella Bites hit the popularity chart on Channel 4, she rose in fame in households. When her shows were on air, homes were quieter than normal and according to reports, gentlemen in particular settled down in front of TV, like kids who would be forced to sit and watch cartoons to get away from their noise and attention!

The male domination in cookery shows was on the rise, stars like Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Rick Stein were all doing well both in England and all over the world. Nigella emerged the scene with a Diana like smile, unpremeditated cooking and flirtatious looks unlike boyish talk of Jamie or infamous F word feast of Gordon. She appealed to the masses differently and established quickly, wrote volumes of books and cooked tons of food for fascinated audience.

Away from the passion for cooking and glamour, she went through murky days in her marriage with multi millionaire Charles Saatchi. In June this year she appeared in the headlines for this very reason. It could be the picture of the year as it appeared on the front page of every news network, Nigella caught at the throat by her husband at Scott’s, a Mayfair restaurant, later rushing out with bruises and tears on her face. Their divorce happened very soon, followed by a case, war of words, allegations and revelations about TV chef’s serious drug use.

At the court few weeks ago, Lawson opened up with her version of the story, hitting back at her husband’s allegation of her being addicted to drugs like cocaine and cannabis. She vehemently rejected the term addiction but admitted using drugs from time to time to get away from her awkward marriage. She blasted the behaviour of Mr Saatchi by saying she suffered acts of intimate terrorism in spite of his words on how much he still loved her and how sad he was to lose her.

Delia Smith, idol of many generations, the Angel of Christmas dinners had a tremendous run on TV; has Nigella era come to an untimely end too? As the horrified and sad face of Nigella gaze at you from the newspaper stand, you are seeing the hard reality of celebrity life.

High wind and heavy rain has slowed down east coast journey many times this winter, wiping away zooming dust and fallen leaves. Watching the ghostly storm hammering the trees, I couldn’t help think or ignore this story as Metro newspaper flew around us carrying the picture of elegant and gorgeous figure of Nigella walking into the court room as if she was being honoured by the Queen.

The author is a London-based restaurateur who owns the Rasa chain

Stay up to date on all the latest Food news with The New Indian Express App. Download now


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.