Laurie Belle has returned this fall with her show Get Cooking with the Stars, a celebrity cooking series that pairs actors, athletes and performers with world-renowned chefs to share good food and good conversation.
The series follows host Laurie Belle as she showcases some of B.C.’s greatest landmarks to celebrity guests and then takes them to restaurants where they prepare a meal with the help of a renowned B.C. chef.
Viewers will recognize guests on the show, including David Lewis (Dirk Gently, Rogue, Traveler), Aleks Paunovic (War for the Planet of the Apes, Van Helsing), comedian Darryl Lenox and the late Alan Thicke (Growing Pains, How I Met Your Mother), and they will discover the chefs behind B.C.’s high-end eateries.
“I really enjoy working with the chefs and learning new recipes,” Belle said, explaining that it’s possible for foodies to follow along at home and cook the chef’s recipes in their own kitchen. Belle added that she is currently working on a cookbook that details the recipes of the dishes featured on the show — paired with pictures of celebrities cooking them, of course.
Belle, who has lived in the Cloverdale—Langley area for more than 10 years, said that she has always enjoyed cooking and entertaining.
“The kitchen, the dinner table, it’s a warm place for people to share their stories,” she said.
Which is part of the reason why the format of Get Cooking with the Stars works, she said, and why celebrity guests might find it easier to open up over a shared meal or experience.
“When you’re at a dinner party, where are all the stories told? Around the dinner table,” said Belle.
Belle, a former entertainment reporter, is no stranger to interviewing celebrities. Instead, she said the challenges of hosting come from the environment of the set itself.
“The guest of the hour changes the entire feeling on set,” she said, explaining that the celebrity might channel anything from glitz and glamour to a simple anticipation to dig in to dinner.
“The thing is, you don’t know what the mood is going to be when you’re going on to set, or where the guest has just arrived from.”
The challenge, Belle said, becomes tailoring your interviewing approach in the moment to each individual. It’s not the easiest task, especially in a cooking environment that can be at times chaotic.
Belle said she truly appreciates working with director Katrin Bowen, as she allow her to focus on the guests and that she’s also been extremely lucky to have been able to work with guests who were friendly and easy to work with.
Belle prepares for the interviews by doing extensive research on what is important and meaningful to the guest, whether that be recent projects, charity work, or their family and friends. She also looks into what food might hold a special meaning to them.
When this season kicked off on Dec. 5, with an episode featuring the late Canadian actor Alan Thicke, Belle was prepared to talk about the film he was premiering at the Whistler Film Festival, where they filmed the show.
Instead, she said he focused on his family, the pride he had for his son, and a new project he was working on with his wife.
“It was his final T.V. appearance in Canada, and it was very meaningful to me,” said Belle. “He was so kind and gracious. He was very lively, full of life. It was such a shock [to hear of his passing].”
Belle said she has had many favourite moments from filming the show, but she shared one favourite story, from one of comedian Darryl Lenox’s guest appearances.
“He’s so funny. We went grocery shopping with Chef Sudat [Noori], and Darryl is making jokes about the different food selections,” she said.
These moments, outside of the restaurant, are opportunities for stars to shine at what they do best — whether it’s hitting the slopes with 2010 Olympic gold medalist Ashleigh McIvor, or, in Lenox’s case, giving him the opportunity to riff.
“He said as we were leaving, ‘Laurie, did we even pay for these groceries,’” Belle said, laughing. “That’s the title of the episode: Stolen Groceries.”