With her lashings of butter and flirtations with the camera, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson has charmed her many fans by turning everyday cooking into a more sensual experience.
Her licking of her fingers as she talks viewers through her recipes have earned her nicknames such as “domestic goddess” and the “queen of food porn” in the British media.
But her successful cooking career has not been mirrored in her personal life lately. Her 10-year marriage to millionaire art collector Charles Saatchi has collapsed since photos of the couple having an argument at a restaurant emerged in June.
In the photos — which were splashed across the front pages of national newspapers at the time — Saatchi is seen with his hand around Lawson’s throat. Saatchi accepted a police caution for assault, and the couple announced they would divorce soon after.
Now Saatchi is set to take the stand in the trial of the couple’s two former personal assistants, who are accused of defrauding them of hundreds of thousands of pounds. They deny the charge.
In a pre-trial hearing, the defense read an e-mail from Saatchi to Lawson about the allegedly embezzled money, saying that the assistants would “get off” because, he wrote, Lawson was using cocaine and marijuana on a daily basis and “allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked.”
Representatives for Lawson declined to comment on the allegations, citing the ongoing court proceedings.
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Born in London, Lawson, 53, is the daughter of a former Conservative Party British Chancellor of the Exchequer — or finance minister — Nigel Lawson.
Her brother Dominic was formerly editor of The Spectator, a British conservative political magazine.
Before she married him, Saatchi ran Saatchi & Saatchi, a leading global advertising agency, with his brother in the 1980s. Its campaigns included the promotion of the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher.
After studying at Oxford University, the celebrity chef began her career in publishing before moving into media, writing restaurant columns.
She met her first husband, John Diamond, while working at the Sunday Times newspaper. The couple had two children. In 2001, Diamond died after a battle with throat cancer.
Lawson went on to contribute to various UK newspapers before writing books.
In 1998, she brought out “How to Eat,” in which she stated how food was an early love.
“I am not a chef. I am not even a trained or professional cook. My qualification is as an eater,” she wrote.
Her second book — “How to be a Domestic Goddess,” in which she taught readers how to feel just like that while baking muffins or cakes — came out two years later and won her the British Book Award for Author of the Year.
Lawson went on to release a string of other successful cookbooks as well as host numerous cooking television shows, such as “Nigella Bites” in Britain. In the United States, she’s been a judge on the ABC show “The Taste” — due to air its second season from January.
She also launched a successful kitchenware range and once oversaw a lunch menu for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former U.S. President George W. Bush.
Lawson lists her recipes on her website and posts them on her Twitter account.