In this week’s magazine, Jada Yuan wrote about Mandy Moore’s cooking lesson at the Spotted Pig — just one of the singer’s many self-improvement projects this year, which include a shiny new indie-pop album, Amanda Leigh (out May 26), and that shiny new diamond ring on her finger, courtesy of now-husband Ryan Adams. At Moore’s request, New York managed to secure her a lesson at the Pig with chefs Peter Cho and Nate Smith (she also knows owner Ken Friedman), and she eagerly donned an apron and jacket for the part. But why, exactly, does Moore want to learn how to cook? "It’s always a goal I’ve had for myself," she says. "I like food. I like eating. I admire people with that talent, you know, someone that can walk in, take ingredients out of the fridge and just sort of whip something up. Or just to innately know, like, how you hard-boil an egg. That’s something I would have to Google."
Moore says she blames her mother for not instilling a love of cooking in her earlier. "My mom, God bless her, was not a great cook growing up, so I think that’s half the reason why I never had interest in cooking while I was a kid. She wasn’t, like, invested in cooking. It was just sort of, you know, making dinner because dinner had to get made.” Among the all-star dishes at the Moore house: “Chicken. Chicken in every shape and form. I think that’s why I don’t eat chicken to this day. I remember chicken with lots of gravy sort of stuff. Cap’n Crunch–breaded chicken. I did not like it. I was like, ‘You made this up!’ I was convinced my mom was just trying to figure out how to use the leftover cereal in the cupboard.”
Moore says friends have tried to convince her about the therapeutic nature of cooking, but she’s not buying it. She prefers cleaning the dishes and going to Bed Bath & Beyond to buy “kitchenlike implements.” “Anything that’s been on, like, an infomercial, I’m pretty sold on,” she says. So far she’s got a slicer, a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer, and a Sham Wow. “The Sham Wow is forever,” she says. “I bought, like, the imposter Sham Wows from Trader Joe’s first and they sucked, so then I got the real thing. I wouldn’t say ‘wow,’ but they’re pretty good.” Moore says Adams does most of their cooking at home. “I’m pretty lucky that I got a good situation in that sense,” she says. “My guy is a really excellent cook. He’s one of those people that innately just knows how to cook anything — eggs, stew, fish. So I could just stick to doing the dishes and I would be okay, but I would love to be able to reciprocate.”
The goal is to throw a dinner party for friends, and eventually host Thanksgiving for her family. She managed to bring Brussel sprouts to this past Thanksgiving (“they were actually a big hit”), and she’s slowly getting over her petrifying fear of knives. “I’m just a procrastinator,” she says. “Cooking hasn’t always been at the top of my list, but that doesn’t take away the desire to really want to learn.”
Click through to see Moore attempt to make the Spotted Pig’s sheep’s-milk ricotta gnudi and deviled eggs.