BILLY SUTER talks to versatile singer-actor CRAIG URBANI about food and drink likes and dislikes, and what he gets up to in the kitchen. Urbani, also known for his TV and film work, recently starred as sweet transvestite Frank N Furter in the touring The Rocky Horror Show and was also recently also in Chicago, Rock of Ages and West Side Story. He is soon to release some original music.
On a scale of one to 10 how good a cook are you? And why do you rate yourself so?
I am a terrible cook! I’m too afraid to even try!! I always say, “How hard can it be? Just follow the recipe!”. Just never got around to it.
What has been the meal you have had most during lockdown – and why? Also, who are you in lockdown with – and have you personally cooked or baked a lot more than usual during lockdown?
I have become the king of baked potatoes with tuna and melted cheese. I have been on lockdown with my awesome mom so there has been no shortage of incredible food! But, every now and then, I give her the night off and insist on making her dinner.
Your most embarrassing/awkward moment in a restaurant?
It’s always embarrassing when, on the odd occasion that I do complain about something, the waiter recognises me from TV, mid rant!
Favourite take-away meal order?
My favourite take-away is a pumpkin-base pizza from Andiccios, Pumpkin base because I’m trying to be good and then I throw all the toppings on.
What is your first food memory?
My mother’s macaroni and cheese springs to mind. I’ve always drenched it in Worcestershire Sauce. She doesn’t take offence because she knows I love it. Still one of my favourites – we’ve had it three times during lockdown.
Something you loved to eat or drink when younger, which you can’t find today?
The old shaped Boudoir biscuits. They have a different shape now and don’t come in the same hard box. You can get similar, but not the same. And I’m mad about it. Haha.
As a child did you ever develop a taste for unusual foods or unusual combinations of foods?
I was always teased by my family whenever we went to a restaurant because I would always order the same thing. I’m not the most exciting and experimental eater – pretty ordinary, conventional tastes and combinations when I was a child.
What is the dish you tend to cook most often?
Eggs on toast or my tuna-melt baked potatoes. Coz I can!
What do you like and/or dislike about attending dinner parties?
I love attending dinner parties. Obviously, it depends on the company. I enjoy the social aspect of it far more than the actual food side of things. When I used to drink I used to get very excited about wines that would go with the meal. Maybe too excited. I don’t do that anymore!
What has been your biggest kitchen disaster?
I recently tried to bake a rainbow cake for a friend’s birthday and it did not go well! Good for a laugh, though. There was no pot of gold at the end of my rainbow – just some stained clothes, dirty dishes and a mother concerned about the state of her kitchen. In the end we ordered a cake.
What has been your biggest culinary success?
Other than my baked potatoes, I have had the most success when being put in charge of the braai. I CAN braai!
How serious a wine fundi are you, and what is your favourite tipple?
I used to drink only red wine and lots of it! Alto Rouge was my favourite. I have been sober now for over four years. I’m still fun, though.
What three people would you most like to invite to dinner?
I would invite Robbie Williams, Hugh Jackman and Michael Buble. It’s a dream of mine to perform with these men. Respect!
What kitchen utensil can you simply not live without?
My pizza-cutter! Gotta have that pizza wheel to cut the pizza.
What’s the most kitsch thing in your kitchen – and why is it there?
A sign that says: “The kitchen is the heart of the home”. It was a gift. So kitsch!
What are some foods you simply refuse to try?
Snails! I mean, come on! Also, shark fin soup, rabbit, crocodile and snake. I would never eat those
What are among your favourite restaurants and what do you usually order there?
My favourite overseas restaurant is Vapiano. You can make your own pastas! It’s awesome. Locally, I love the Greek restaurant Nikoz. I like ordering small dishes at a Greek restaurant – lots of them!!
Your favourite meal on a hot, humid day? And on a freezing day?
Favourite meal for a hot day is sushi and for a cold day, lamb curry!
What is the sexiest of all foods?
I’m so unoriginal – strawberries and cream.
What do you tip in restaurants?
I always leave at least 10%. More if the waiter is cool and helpful.
Have you/would you send a dish back at a restaurant if you were not happy with it?
I have sent food back once or twice. I am not very fussy, though. I can’t bear people that always find something wrong with food and send it back. It’s just attention-seeking.