Interview

Nadia & Kaye: Open Book

We recently sat down with Nadia Sawalha and Kaye Adams to chat ferocious friendships, forgotten giblets and practical, foolproof recipes. The TV presenters and “middle-aged YouTube sensations" are the authors of the brand-new Nadia and Kaye Disaster Chef, a no-faff field guide for subpar cooks.

Fast facts first! Starter or pudding?

Nadia: Pudding.
Kaye: Starter.

Gin or wine?

K: Gin!
N: Gin.

Can you describe your friendship in five words?

N: Chaotic, explosive, fun.
K: Hilarious.
N: I was going to say hilarious! Combative, exhausting.

What’s the top kitchen utensil you couldn’t do without?

K: A soup kettle.
N: Oh, god! I hate her soup kettle.
K: What’s yours?
N: I suppose it would have to be my smoothie maker. Because you really can’t do that any other way.

So Disaster Chef is designed to help less-than-confident cooks avoid exactly that: disaster. Can you both describe your worst culinary disaster?

N: Roasting potatoes for my vegan sister, who was a raw food-er at the time, and the only cooked food she was going to have in the entire year was Christmas Day roast potatoes. And I cooked them in goose fat. By accident. She never forgave me.

K: Oh, I’ve got quite a lot. But I suppose the most stupid one was, I bought a pizza and heated it. How could it possibly go wrong? I forgot to take the plastic off.

N: I’ve cooked chicken with the giblets inside.

K: Oh yeah, but I do that all the time. I don’t see that as a disaster.

This one’s for Kaye: what’s your best piece of practical advice for those intimidated by the kitchen?

K: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And I have to say that I have utterly lifted that from Nadia. It’s been one of the main sort of nuggets throughout this whole process that has really made a difference with me. Because if you do start off from a position of thinking I’m rubbish, when you do something and it doesn’t work, then that’s confirmation that you are rubbish. Which is very different from thinking, Well alright, that didn’t go so well, let me try it again and see if I can work out where I went wrong. Which I would do in most other things in life.

N: Everything else! Because you never give up at anything.

K: Yeah, I’m usually very tenacious. So that I think has been a real key thing. Just give it another go.

Mushrooms and greens noodles

If you could only cook one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

N: Cheese on toast. I love cheese on toast.
K: Not cheese on toast, but good French bread, cheese and red wine. Yeah, I could live on that for the rest of my life.
N: I do love a roast dinner though.
K: Or fresh tuna and a side salad.
DK: Nadia’s making a face!
N: We’ve been to five hundred restaurants. She’ll look all the way through the menu, and then every time without fail: Oh! That looks nice. I guarantee you. It’s salmon and green vegetables.
K: You can’t beat it!

Thai coconut red veg and beans

N: [laughing] That Kaye, with all the laughs that we’ve had over the years, and all the tears that her family have had when something’s been placed in front of them on the table, that she’s on the front of a cookbook!

K: See what I tend to do with food is, rather than cook a recipe, I just assemble things together on a plate that I like.

DK: You’re an engineer.

N: Stop encouraging her!

Swedish-style meatballs from Nadia and Kaye Disaster Chef

Last one: what will people love about this book?

K: It’s real. In every single way, it is real. It’s the real us, no airbrushing. It’s our real kitchens, it’s our real crockery. These are real recipes that are put together for real families.

N: That we all sat down and ate afterwards! You can really tell that with photography, whether something’s just been photographed to be photographed, or whether we want to eat it. And I think that jumps out in the book.

K: They’re real recipes for people with real lives. This is not an Instagram book. It’s not trying to be an Instagram book. It’s about people who are getting up, getting the kids out to school, going off to work, coming back, tidying around, doing something for the tea, and then getting the kids out to swimming. It’s for those people. Not for people who are doing downward dogs at six in the morning. Though you’re welcome to do it.

N: Can we add to our list of words, juvenile? To describe our relationship.

K: Adolescent?