It only took me seven seconds to fall for Nadia Giosia -- a.k.a.Nadia G., the fully-functional nutso charmer on her grunge-named Cooking Channel show, Bitchin' Kitchen. In those vital 7 seconds of Nadia G.'s promotional sound-bites, I was hooked: "If you were to ask me whether I'd rather make out with Clooney or scarf a mushroom risotto," Nadia G. asks...(pause for a grimace of indecision before rubbing her belly lustfully)..."I'd make out with Clooney."
And Clooney would be one lucky dude.
For Nadia G. is that rare food television personality who gets right up in your grill with the obvious link between sensuality, even campy erotica, and the skilled preparation and "scarfing" of great food.
Nadia G. prowls her kitchen in vertigo-inducing stilettos and form-fitting, leopard-print sheath dresses, with her vampiric-red nail polish and lips set against her driftwood-pale skin. Consider her a cross between Elvira and Nigella Lawson. But with her tasteful selection of tattoos and penchant for silvery skull kitchen adornments, along with her heavy-metal hand gesture of approval for her latest creation, Nadia G. has more than a bit of Joan Jett as well.
Consider her food television's first punk-rock cooking sensation -- who delivers her off-the-cuff Nadia-isms ("What ya gonna do?" "You don't seal the ravioli right, it will be a bordello in the pot" ) in a husky voice reminiscent of any Brooklyn fish market wholesaler starting his dawn shift.
But this gravel-and-molasses-voiced lady, reportedly plucked from the obscurity of a series of web videos, can also cook. A recent episode was hilariously devoted to the double-entendre filled "underground" veggies such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, parsnips and Swiss chard. Nadia G. was determined to embrace all these so-called ugly, underachieving, generally dismissed members of the food chain -- rescuing them from the culinary back-alley -- by wedding them to dishes guaranteed to make your palate perk up and take notice.
First up, Nadia G. combined a generally sorry-looking bunch of Swiss chard into one of her Italian favorites: a pan-seared, Swiss chard mascarpone ravioli, showered in truffled cream. Any Italian dish seems to bring out the best in the Canadian-raised Nadia G., who piles on the wisecracks with even greater speed anytime she can fill any pasta with the holy trinity (ricotta, mascarpone, and parmigiano reggiano) of Italian cheeses.
The latest chef to try to rehabilitate the tattered reputation of the original scoffed veg, the Brussels sprout ("It's been through too much hardship," Nadia G. quips), she marries the vertically challenged cabbage heads with plenty of garlic along with crisped-skin sausage and another garden second class citizen, parsnips.
Nadia pricelessly describes the obscure parsnip as "the shunned, albino cousin of the carrot" as she injects it with new life thanks to an extensive dunking in 375 degree peanut oil.
Finally, Nadia G. transforms a bulbous and pocked Cinderella of a cauliflower into a princess of a creamy soup, wearing a tiara of aged cheddar, pancetta and sautéed leeks.
Such is the efficiency of Nadia G's cooking segments (with her blade work presented with frenetic, silent-movie speed) that she has time to introduce us to a wacky cast of extras, with one bearing a striking resemblance to '70s era Cheech or Chong.
But no matter how asylum-ready Nadia's pals are, there's rarely any doubt who the leader of this three-ring-cooking-circus is: the original Mad Hatter of mascarpone, Nadia G.
(Bitchin' Kitchen airs on the Cooking Channel, at 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays.)