Between the 2018 “American Meme” documentary and Paris Hilton’s 2020 “This is Paris” film, Hilton’s media exposure in the last few years has been extremely raw, even dark at times. With that in mind, a light-hearted, mindless cooking show does not seem like the natural next chapter for Hilton, and yet that’s exactly what Netflix’s “Cooking with Paris” is.
In the first episode, Hilton, 39, gushes several times about wanting to have babies and needing to learn to cook if she’s going to start a family. She tells her guest Kim Kardashian, “I feel like I’ve been living like a 21-year-old for my entire life,” but now she’s finally ready to feel like an adult, she says as she whips out her rainbow bejeweled recipe book. When her celebrity guests arrive, she shows off her newly remodeled mansion and gourmet chef’s kitchen – another sign of her next chapter as she ditches her old wall-to-wall Barbie pink interior decor.
This tracks perfectly with what we learn about Hilton in “This is Paris,” the YouTube documentary in which Hilton works through trauma and abuse she faced as a teenager and following the leak of a sex tape. A major plot of her self-produced 2020 documentary is her desire to get married and have children after decades of partying and DJing across the globe. She’s almost achieved the first part, getting engaged to businessman Carter Reum in February this year, and on her way to achieving the second as she’s already begun undergoing IVF treatments and discussed hopes for having children (twins specifically) in 2022.
In “Cooking with Paris,” just as in the other documentaries, Hilton flits seamlessly between her iconic vocal fry and a deeper, more emotive tone, allowing the viewer to watch her hop in and out of character. One minute she’s walking the produce aisle like a runway, then next she’s asking a grocery clerk what chives are. She drops thousands of dollars on caviar and truffles just because she can, clearly doesn’t know the difference between a mixer and blender, but also peppers the episodes with perfectly on-brand kitchen tips that are surprisingly useful, like busting out your cutest oversized sunglasses while chopping onions to protect your eyes.
It sounds odd, like a more self-aware version of her “Simple Life” days, but it’s 100 percent Paris, who is always in on the joke and always aware of the rolling camera — at one point when eating a meal cooked with her mom, Kathy Hilton, she breaks character to chastise Kathy for talking while bending down to fix her outfit and not “looking hot.”
Even for non-Hilton fans, the show is also worth turning in for the “cooking” part of “Cooking with Paris.” She doesn’t pretend to know what she’s doing, but also doesn’t shy away from trying new and complicated recipes. And even when trying more seemingly basic dishes – tacos, French toast, burgers – she adds her own over-the-top twists, because when you’re a billionaire, why would you not.
Viewers at home are probably not going to replicate her 24k gold onion rings or glitter unicorn cannolis, but are happy to indulge vicariously through Hilton. The flaunting of her ungodly wealth through the show feels escapist, not inaccessible, like watching a good episode of “International House Hunters.”
For fans of Hilton and the party girls of the ’00s, “Cooking with Paris” is more than just a culinary adventure, it’s about growing up and settling down. Hilton spent two decades as a successful entrepreneur launching fashion and perfume lines, all while partying in the hottest clubs in the world, only to finally decide what she really wants is the life of a domestic homemaker, and a hot domestic homemaker at that.