What Lady Gaga taught me about cooking

Lady Gaga performs during a hurricanes relief concert in College Station, Texas.
Lady Gaga performs during a hurricanes relief concert in College Station, Texas.  Photo: LM Otero

It's not every day you get the opportunity to cook for one of the world's biggest pop stars but throwback to 2008 and there I was. And there Gaga was, standing next to me in her undies, ballet flats and an oversized men's shirt, kneading pizza dough in the kitchen of a private estate overlooking Nanarup Bay in Western Australia.

Only hours earlier I was on the receiving end of a desperate phone call asking whether I could cater for a last-minute VIP guest and her eight friends. "They're arriving in a few hours on a private jet and here's a list of food they like. Good luck."

I remember thinking, "Whoever this VIP is, they better be bloody worth it – I'm putting a Dexter marathon on hold for you."

Amy Hamilton's bacon and scrambled eggs got the Lady Gaga seal of approval.
Amy Hamilton's bacon and scrambled eggs got the Lady Gaga seal of approval. Photo: Jenny Feast Photography

Any bitterness had disappeared by breakfast as I watched Lady Gaga, complete with Coke can quiff, smash down a plate of my scrambled eggs and bacon and yell through the fly screen door, "These eggs are f---king fantastic!"

Never judge a cook by their cover. Turns out Gaga wasn't just a deadset legend who loved food, she was also a bloody good hand in the kitchen. How do I know? Because she cooked me dinner! Hey, what's a girl to do when Lady Gaga is asking if she's allowed to cook for you and the crew that night? Tell her,  "Calm down, I'm planning on chucking a lamb leg in the oven"? No, you're going find that girl some chicory.

Gaga made two simple and beautiful pastas that night. The first was spaghetti tossed in a sauce made from slow-cooked whole fresh tomatoes (skins intact), olive oil and fennel seeds. Then she cooked me her favourite pasta dish – chicory wilted down with garlic cloves and toasted pinenuts, stirred through more spaghetti. (She also slayed me in a "who can balance a dessert spoon on their nose the longest" competition.)

The most memorable moment was watching the evening's dinner play out like the closing scene of the film Moonstruck, featuring my favourite New York Italian family. Gaga's dad, Joe, passing banter and grana padano down the table as back-up dancers over-poured wine and Gaga let you know there was more pasta in the pot should anyone like a little more.

Lady Gaga – known as Stef to her dad – taught me that no matter how busy you are, or how far you are away from home, cooking is a gesture of love and making the time to eat together is a wonderful and meaningful act.

It has the ability to level people and bring complete strangers together. In the words of the pop princess herself, it doesn't matter whether "you're broke or evergreen", food, like music, is a universal language. Right on, Gaga. Right on.

Amy Hamilton is the executive chef at Liberte in Albany, Western Australia.