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On Style Network’s Foody Call, Michele Merkin shows guys how to cook their girls’ pants off. Happily, she didn’t wear any to our photo shoot.

Maxim, Nov 2005

You host Foody Call and Extreme Dodgeball and appear on E!’s Coming Attractions. Is it safe to say the camera loves you?
Well, I did attend UCLA because my mom wanted me to be a plastic surgeon…so she could get free face-lifts. That lasted about two weeks. I’d been modeling since I was 15, and I booked a huge ad campaign during midterms. I had a choice: Do I take the job or take the test? Job? Test? Job? Test? I dropped out, took the job, and ended up making $100,000.

Good call. Wasn’t your mom a model?
I think she might have been the very first Victoria’s Secret model. She was in their first catalog in the late ’70s. Fuzzy lighting and negligee, holding a rose in one hand and an ornate gold phone in the other. It’s come a long way.

Have you always been really tall?
I was 5'11" when I was about 14. I had terrible nicknames. One was Giraffa, because I have a very long neck. When I played hoops, they called me Manute, for Manute Bol. People can be mean. But they’re gonna regret it when they see these pictures, goddamn it!

On Foody Call you help guys use cooking to score. How does that work?
We turn food into foreplay. We teach guys how to make the meal to seal the deal. It’s for your average dude who doesn’t have a lot of game, whose whole apartment revolves around the big-screen TV and PlayStation. There’s more to life than that.

What’s the sexiest food a guy can make?
Anything I can eat off him. Fondue is great because you dip and you roll and you suck and you feed each other. It turns into an event. Tapas are good because you can taste off each other’s plates. Food should be fun.

What’s really unsexy?
Mexican food. I like it, but it’s not good on the belly. You’ll be making out, then all of a sudden you’re like, “Excuse me, I’ll be right back.” And you’re running into the kitchen, trying to get the odor away from you. “Black Hawk down! Black Hawk down! I stunk up the kitchen.”

Whipped cream in the bedroom. Yes or no?
Yes. I give it a thumbs up.

Honey’s very good, but it’s sticky. You don’t want that all over your body. Before you know it, your sheets are stuck to you, and when you get out of bed you’re taking all the covers with you.

Chocolate sauce?
I myself am not a fan of chocolate. Women are supposed to like it when they’re depressed, but I go for Gummi Bears. [pointing] There’s a bag on that table. I’d offer you some, but I just finished them. You can take the bag if you like.

I like spicy food, but you remember that movie Along Came Polly? Ben Stiller eats spicy food and has diarrhea in her bathroom and overflows the toilet and wipes his butt with her hand towel. So that should be a lesson to the guys out there.

What’s the best morning-after food?
The kind that you eat in bed. It’s called leftovers.

How often do you cook?
I am the queen of ordering in or going out. Those are two of my favorite pastimes. I can call a mean dinner to be delivered.

Don’t you work on a cooking show?
Well, the gentleman on the show with me, Rossi Morreale, is the cooking expert. I’m more into the styling of the home, and I just sort of drink on the side while he’s cooking. You know, tasting the alcohol to make sure it hasn’t gone bad…

Is there any food that’s better than sex?
If you can find something that’s better than sex, you’re obviously not having sex with the right person. So get out and play the field.

What the hell are truffles?
They grow under the earth, like a fungus, like a mushroom. They’re very expensive. Very hard to find. They come in black and white, they’re fabulous, and they taste very good over pasta. And there are pigs that sniff out the truffles. That could be an urban legend—I’m sure they can grow them commercially now. If they can make a fake tan, they can make truffles.

Which country has the best cuisine?
Italy. Italian is the language of love, pizza, pasta, Lady and the Tramp

You’re part Swedish. Any Swedish delicacies we should know about?
Yes. They have this thing called lutefisk. It’s kind of like sulfur-dried fish. It’s the worst thing on the planet. But they also have fläsk, which is like really thick, fatty fried bacon. It’s so good. And smorgasbord. And Sweden has the best butter in the world. Rich and creamy.

Is everything better in Sweden?
Yes, because in Sweden everybody has braids, and their name is Inga, and they churn the butter by hand while the cows pass by.

As long as you’re feeding our stereotypes, how was boarding school in England?
It was kind of like Harry Potter without the magic. We wore kilts with little argyle sweaters and knee socks and saddle shoes. It was an all-girls school, and we had communal showers. Let your mind wander…but, so you know, I was 10.

That was a buzz kill, wasn’t it.

Why does food turn a woman on? Women like a guy to make an effort. Most guys don’t cook, so a little effort goes a long way.

Even if the food sucks?
It’s all about the presentation. And if it doesn’t taste good, have a sense of humor. Say, “OK, so this is shit. Wanna order pizza?” But it’s the whole process. Have a glass of wine and make the meal together. Feed each other. Taste this. Oh, you spilled. Let me get that off your blouse. Take your blouse off…

OK, word association. We’ll name a meal, you tell us how sexy it is. First, filet mignon and roasted red potatoes?
Man with class. A little heavy on the stomach, but that would get me to seal the deal. Filet mignon isn’t cheap.

Tuna casserole?
Takes me to a bad place, like my friend’s mom’s house. I never wanted to eat dinner there.

Crème brûlée?
[gasps] My favorite dessert. Crème brûlée is sexy and saucy, and it makes me totally horny.

Hot dogs and donuts?
That reminds me of the last time I went to a Dodgers game. I felt nauseous, and the last thing I wanted to do was get freaky.

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