Sacha Baron Cohen isn’t afraid of breaking a few eggs to create a memorable moment on screen, but it’s hard to imagine him in chef’s attire unless perhaps he was satirising TV chefs. But the comedy auteur says his childhood dream of becoming a chef was turned to toast by a culinary legend.
Baron Cohen told the New York Times: “I finished high school and there was a chef called Raymond Blanc who got a Michelin star. I went over to his restaurant, called Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, and I asked to work there and he declined. He said I was too tall to work in the kitchen, and then I gave up my dream of becoming a chef.”
Cookery’s loss was comedy’s gain, as the 6ft 4in star progressed to create Ali G, Bruno, Borat and more satirical icons.
Baron Cohen has clearly never lost the desire to be a chef and revealed he’d had a stint of work experience in the kitchen of French culinary wizard Éric Ripert.
“Recently, I was lucky enough to work in the kitchen at Le Bernardin in New York,” he said. “I bumped into Éric Ripert and I told him I want to be a chef and he goes, ‘Come over.’ It was amazing, because me and my brother spent three hours in the kitchen during their dinner service. It’s incredibly tiring and then we’re in the way. I felt very bad about it.”
Baron Cohen’s obsession with cookery extended to a ploy to put the paparazzi off the scent when he married Australian actress Isla Fisher in 2010: he asked his father, Gerald, to pretend to be a celebrated chef.
“We had a secret wedding in Paris,” he said. “And the ruse was that it was my father’s 70th birthday and that he was a famous chef in England. That was how we avoided having photographers at the wedding. I trained him up to be in character.
“He said that his favourite dish that he created was L’oeuf Scramble.”
He needn’t have been so anxious, however. He recounted a night out with Fisher when he discovered he hadn’t quite hit the big time.
“Luckily, we’re not A-list,” he said. “I remember once in Hollywood, I was trying to avoid being photographed by paparazzi. I think I put something in front of my face when exiting a restaurant and this photographer shouted, ‘You’re only a B-lister!’ And I said to Isla, ‘Oh, my God, we’re B-listers! We made it! We’re B-listers.’”
Baron Cohen is currently starring in the Netflix movie The Trial of the Chicago 7, playing counter-culture hero Abbie Hoffman in the film about the protestors who faced conspiracy charges after clashing with police at the Democratic Convention in 1968.
His hugely-anticipated sequel to the 2006 sensation, Borat 2, will stream on Amazon Prime Video from Friday 23rd October.
Sign up for Amazon Prime for £7.99 a month with a 30-day free trial. Check out our lists of the best Amazon Prime series and best Amazon Prime movies, or visit our TV Guide to find something else to watch.