Models Get Second Jobs In the Kitchen

Because modeling so often has a short shelf life, some top models have built their brands by transitioning into other careers — think Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum hosting reality shows; Josie Maran and Iman launching beauty companies; or Christy Turlington going back to college to study public health before launching a maternal health nonprofit.

But today's crop of It Girls is going in another direction — toward the kitchen. This week, 25-year-old British model Daisy Lowe launched a cooking-class Web series for the fashion magazine Grazia. Her first book, a dessert-centric cookbook called "Sweetness & Light," will be published in July.

One of Lowe's contemporaries, fellow Brit Jourdan Dunn, 23, has a YouTube show cleverly dubbed "Well Dunn with Jourdan Dunn," where she demonstrates recipes and invites celeb friends like rapper 2 Chainz to help her in the kitchen.

And it's not only models on the other side of the pond who are embracing their culinary sides. Karlie Kloss, a 21-year-old American supermodel who is a regular in Vogue and also walks the runway as a Victoria's Secret Angel, turned her love of baking into a side career, Karlie's Kookies. A portion of profits from the sweet treats go to Lauren Bush's FEED charity, which provides nutritious meals for impoverished children.

Why have so many models embraced the kitchen? Considering the reputation models have for eating, well, nothing, it seems like some of today's big runway stars are eager to put the food jokes to an end. And although the treats may look delicious, there's a big focus on health – Lowe's cakes and puddings, for example,use natural ingredients and are low in fat.

“[My cookbook] is the result of my journey to discover the craft of baking guilt-free delicious treats,” Lowe told Vogue UK recently.“I wanted to create a collection of recipes that ensure you can enjoy sweet things without harming your body… Many are gluten, dairy, and refined sugar-free, some are vegan and others raw.”

Kloss’s approach is similar. Her cookies — sorry, “kookies” — are gluten and dairy-free, and they’re sweetened with agave nectar instead of sugar. Momofuku Milk Bar, the cool New York-based chain that sells the cookies on its website, deems Kloss’s creations “fashionably wholesome” — much like Kloss herself.

It’s no secret that, for models, whose bodies are their brands, staying slim and fit is important. For their top earners, some modeling agencies will hire everyone from  in-house nutritionists to personal trainers, to make sure that models stay healthy and still able to slither into sample sizes at photo shoots. So teaching these women to cook at home – where they'll be more likely to prepare healthy meals – is good for business.(Kloss herself has admitted that she often brings her own food to shoots because she doesn’t know what the provided catering will be.) – And it also means that some of the models who have a knack for it can leverage their name recognition and turn a cooking hobby into an actual side job.
Kloss, who has said that if modeling hadn’t worked out she would have become a doctor, is clearly aware of other models who have successfully transitioned into the business world. “Tyra did it,” she told Daily Front Row Berlin last year. “She went to Harvard Business School. I can do it, too.”

But even when business and branding are taken out of the equation, there’s one major reason to cook — it’s fun! (Especially when you can impress family membersor start hosting dinners for friends.)
Although Dunn usually does most of the heavy lifting on her Web show, she has brought on other models, like Cara Delevingne and Joan Smalls, to assist. Delevingne and Smalls may not be kitchen whizzes, but they've both expressed interest in branching out into acting careers – so any experience in front of a TV camera is a good thing, especially if it means hanging out with a friend and trying delicious food in the process. "Well Dunn" gives off the sense of good friends prepping for an impossibly cool dinner party — and that’s something everybody wants in their own kitchen.