What are Carlos and Larissa currently up to?
Larissa: I’m currently working on The Star of Strait Street, a brand new musical play based on the life Christina Radcliffe – an entertainer and also a plotter back in the 40s. Her story has been an inspiration, and playing Christina in her younger years alongside Polly March who plays her in her older years has been a beautiful journey. Christina’s story is absolutely moving and I can’t be more honoured to be able to interpret this role.
Carlos: I’m currently producing, directing and acting in L-Iffissat t’Alla, a contemporary theatre production which for the third consecutive season I’m producing with Joseph Galea in collaboration with Valletta 2018. The show’s on from the 7th till the 14th April at Spazju Kreattiv. I’m also in Inkwilini, Division 7 and Il-Patt. I’m also directing a Freespirit Acting student’s comedy called Kif Alla Jridna.
Why Cook Off? Why food?
Larissa: Myra Baldacchino and I are the women behind Nokkla Productions. We both love TV and have always dreamed of having our own programme. We both love to cook and we both love to laugh, so when Myra found out I’ve no idea how to cook – ironically over a plate of pasta at a restaurant – we came up with the concept of Cook Off, an entertainment programme with a twist. I couldn’t have survived the season without my partner in crime Carlos Farrugia, who also doesn’t know how to cook, however we both overcame our fears and have managed to prepare some decent and pretty good-looking meals.
Above: Larissa and Carlos
Carlos: I’ve never hosted or presented a TV programme, and I’ve almost never cooked before, so when Larissa and Myra offered me the opportunity to do both things I accepted without even thinking about it. It’s an amazing experience and I believe we’ve succeeded quite well because Larissa, like me, isn’t the best cook on earth, but we’ve managed to win most of the competitions. Don’t ask me how but we did!
What did you find to be the most challenging aspect of filming the programme?
Larissa: The most challenging part was to keep away from the production side of things while presenting, as I had to focus on cooking and presenting rather than what’s happening behind the cameras. Of course, Myra and I prepared everything together beforehand, however she had to take care of the bulk of things once we were filming. However, I’m very lucky to have such a great and talented co-producer who took on this challenging programme and managed to always bring out the best in each programme through her impeccable editing skills.
Carlos: Since I’ve always worked on TV as an actor and not as a presenter, my biggest challenge was to look at the camera instead of not looking at it, and that’s quite obvious when watching the first two programmes. There was also being excited and afraid of cooking in front of cameras where audiences at home will be watching! However, after presenting the first programme and winning some challenges, I became confident and I believe we did a very good job. I’ve received quite good feedback from the people I meet in the street. ‘Meta gej issajjarli?’ has become a very common statement.
We’ve often seen you as a duo in a number of stage and TV productions. What have so far been your most memorable moments throughout your intertwining careers?
Larissa: I have to admit that Cook Off has a special place in my heart because it’s my baby and sharing this with Carlos has been an honour. Myra and I were so delighted when he agreed to come on board as my co-host. Carlos, thank you for being such a great competitive partner.
Carlos: Myself and Larissa have worked together in many TV and theatre productions, most of them as husband and wife. We share a very good professional chemistry and presenting Cook Off with Larissa was an amazing experience. Larissa is very talented. We share great laughs during, before and even after productions. She’s very reliable but most of all she’s extremely professional. I’m glad I’m sharing this experience with such an amazing co-presenter.
A second series of Cook Off is in the pipeline. What will audiences expect?
Carlos: As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve received great feedback from our audience so we’re trying to move a step ahead. At the moment, we’re still brainstorming and discussing how to make it a better show, which it obviously will be.
Larissa: Myra and I are working very hard to produce a second season of Cook Off. We want to spice things up and take the heat up a notch – that’s all I am going to say!
If you had to bring on a fantasy guest onto the show, who would it be and why?
Larissa: If by fantasy you mean from a storybook, as I do live in fable town, I would love to meet and compete against Sailor Moon and Captain Hook… Yes, I was obsessed as a kid and will always be. However, if you mean a fantasy guest from the real world, it would be so awesome to compete against Nicole Kidman and Leonardo Di Caprio Can you imagine that? Oh Larissa, dream on…
Carlos: My fantasy guest would either be Paolo Dybala or Gonzalo Higuan, two Juventus players whom I really follow and am a huge fan of. Myra, Larissa… please take note… Other candidates could be Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne, Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow. Who knows?
Cook Off is aired every Tuesday at 8.15pm on One TV.