Kay Plunkett-Hogge’s career path to becoming a cookbook author and cocktail columnist is one of a kind. For most of her life, Plunkett-Hogge made her living managing fashion models in London, Los Angeles, and New York and coordinating production of films such as “Operation Dumbo Drop,” neither of which was part of a grand plan. But through it all, Plunkett-Hogge always came back to her first love — food.
In 2007, she left the worlds of film and fashion for good to begin a career first as a caterer, then a writer. The London-based author has collected some of her favorite and most amusing stories, accompanied by recipes, in “Adventures of a Terribly Greedy Girl: A Memoir of Food, Family, Film, and Fashion.”
Q. The press kit for your book describes you as “British with a hint of Thai.” How do you describe your background?
A. That’s so weird. It sounds as if I’m walking around wearing a sarong or something. I was born and lived in Thailand, and I still spend a lot of time there every year. But I’m a woman living in London of British descent. And I hate being described as a “citizen of the world” or “global.” I’m someone who was brought up in two worlds, which gives me a nice understanding of the wider world, as it were. I spoke Thai before I spoke English. Certainly, my grandmother was horrified that this child was talking Thai. I refused to speak English to her because I thought it was funny.
Q. What was the food like as you went back and forth between Thailand and England?
A. Our house [in Thailand] was beautiful, almost like a California midcentury, that lovely square architecture and polished teak floors. We had an inside kitchen which had a conventional Western oven and hob and fridge-freezer and all the rest of it. Then you walked across a courtyard and you came to the outdoor kitchen, which was my favorite. Built into one side were two or three charcoal burners. I just remember dancing flames, and the smells in that kitchen were always ones I wanted to smell. It was a very free and easy place, full of laughter and sunshine. My grandmother’s kitchen was comfort food, the food that I craved when I came home for weekends from boarding school — apple crumbles and big roast dinners, fish and chips, pies. Both had a lot in common even though they were worlds apart.
Q. How do you fuse cultures in the recipes you write?
A. All food is fusion. I went to Laos and wrote a piece about Lao cooking and the [headline writers] write “she goes to discover authentic Lao food.” What other kind of food would I be getting? Chiles only came to somewhere like Thailand in the 1500s with the Portuguese. So you’re always fusing flavors and carrying on. I think that’s what’s happening in American food in the last five to 10 years.
Q. Your first career was as a modeling agent. How did that come to be?
A. I went to drama school and trained as an actress. I must have been [expletive] because I never got a part. I knew a bunch of models. They said you should think about being a booker. You’d be pretty good at it. There was a woman who was a headhunter for model agencies. I got in touch with her. I was 22. I thought I’d be representing girls. Of course, I walked into representing boys, which was hilarious in itself. It’s easiest with boys because they’re boys. You don’t have to worry about them. You just shout at them if they’re late.
Q. How did you make the switch to food?
A. It’s so random. I had done film stuff and I was back in the model agency thing. A quite famous model didn’t want to work one day. I was like, I can’t do this anymore. I left and I had no idea what I was going to do. But I knew I could cook. A friend asked me to cook a birthday dinner. Her husband was a fashion photographer. He said, “Wow, would you cater a shoot for me?” That rolled on to all sorts of magazines and designers for shoots. Then I wrote for this book called “Cook Yourself Thin Quick and Easy.” I wrote 100 calorie-counted recipes in two weeks. I love the world I’m in now.
Q. After living in London, Bangkok, New York, and Los Angeles, which do you think is the best drinking city?
A. They’re all good in their own way. LA has got that real tradition of bars. I think LA is my town when I want to go out and have a few martinis and pretend that I’m Rita Hayworth. Put on your lipstick and have your martini and just chat. You just feel a bit glamorous. Then you walk out onto Hollywood Boulevard and you’re like, no, not so much.
Q. So, what’s your next career?
A. Maybe I could turn a complete 180 and do something different. Write sitcoms set in the food world — like “30 Rock” but behind the scenes of a food TV show.Michael Floreak can be reached at email@example.com