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SEX & CHOPPING.

Byline: STEVEN VENTURA

SHE'S just like one of her desserts - small, cute and very sweet. But Scotland's answer to top telly babe Nigella Lawson is promising to give TV cookery shows something far more spicy.

Juicy Juliet Lawrence Wilson said: "Being glamorous and sexy is back in fashion.

"I see myself as a very glamorous person and I would love to take that to the screens with my cooking shows.

"If people then view me as a sex symbol, then all the better. I wouldn't be complaining if that happened."

The sight of the bubbly blonde braising in the kitchen is set to crank up temperatures in living rooms across the country.

She makes her television debut next month on cable and she is confident the appearance could lead to more work.

Juliet, who owns the Stockbridge Restaurant in Edinburgh, said: "I am a cook, but part of my job involves being an entertainer.

"When we are finished the final main courses at the restaurant, I get changed and go out and chat to the customers.

"I think people like to know the face behind the business."

The 27 year old businesswoman's charm has been a vital ingredient in the success of the Edinburgh eatery.

The spot Juliet picked to open her traditional Scottish restaurant is a bohemian part of the capital and the unit which would house the business had originally been a Tarot card- reading shop.

But no-one could have predicted the obstacles she would face over the next two years before the restaurant opened.

Juliet said: "It was the most stressful time of my life. Bank managers wanted to know about my love life in case I packed it all in after six months and ran off to get pregnant.

"When the workmen eventually got in, there was squabbling and rivalry.

"I was scheduled to open in 10 days' time and had taken 45 bookings, but there was no floor in the kitchen, no plumbing, no toilets, electricity, painting done or carpets laid."

The Stockbridge kitchens fired up in the nick of time and the cook's first restaurant venture is now simmering along nicely.

BUT Juliet's quest to become a television star wasn't cooked up in the kitchens at 54 St Stephen Street.

She revealed: "I did a one-year performing arts course at Telford College and I managed to achieve something pretty unique - I never got to appear in Taggart, not even as a corpse."

The pretty blonde was bitten by the acting bug while still at school, Oxenfoord School for Girls, in Midlothian.

Juliet said: "That was a weird experience in itself. We used to play lacrosse in a field which had a big tree stuck right in the middle of it.

"And we didn't have blazers, we used to wear these long, black robes like the woman in the Scottish Widows advert."

But it did give her the chance to take to the stage as Lady Macbeth at the Bedlam Theatre in Edinburgh.

She said: "I was 18 at the time and I loved it. Playing her was fantastic because she is such a sexy character."

But the roles Juliet were offered at drama classes were less than saucy. An appearance as a gun- toting lawnmower mechanic in a short film saw her movie career binned like a stale lasagne.

She decided to go back to what she knew best - cookery.

Juliet said: "I have been baking since I was three years old. My granny used to teach me to make cakes for all her friends.

"From a very early age, I was just turned on by cooking. I loved to make meals for people and watch their reaction to what I had made for them. There is something very satisfying about that."

Juliet taught herself to cook and tried out her produce on friends by holding regular dinner parties.

After a spell working for her parents in the import/export trade, she set up an outside catering company.

Its popularity convinced Juliet she should go into the restaurant business.

She said: "The first year was hard, but many restaurants close in that time so I was quite lucky.

"It was hardly all glamour because by the time you finish it's late at night.

"I found myself in danger of being drawn into the wine cellar. Late-night television didn't offer much comfort either. There's not as much porn on at that time as people think."

One big break to come the cook's way was a failed Valentine's Day party this year.

Juliet said: "I organised a night where single girls and guys could come to the restaurant and maybe find love.

"I had hundreds of interested women who said they wanted to come along, but only three men. The whole thing gave me a lot of publicity."

A few publicists went to Stockbridge shortly after this and Juliet soon had them accepting her ideas for a cook book.

THE result, Dinner with Juliet, is a well-crafted affair full of culinary delights from the restaurant, quirky anecdotes and the author looking very sultry.

She said: "I'm not saying everyone should start dressing up in sexy outfits and making dinner, but I invite them to try it.

"It is becoming very fashionable, even among men, as an alternative to going out and it doesn't have to be an expensive affair.

"Eating good Scottish food can be done relatively cheaply and doesn't take a lot of effort."

With the first book due out at the end of next month, Juliet now hopes to go down the showbiz path blazed by celebrity chefs such as Nigella, Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith.

She confessed: "I have nothing but respect for what they have done. It was said I slated Nigella Lawson and called her a has- been, but nothing could be further from the truth. She has it all - a family, television and book success.

"She is also absolutely beautiful and a huge sex symbol. How could you possibly fault that?"

But before an army of male admirers rush to the Edinburgh restaurant, Juliet has something else in common with Nigella. She's off the menu and has a man in her life.

l Dinner With Juliet is released on October 31 by Lomond Books, priced pounds 15. Juliet presents Good Food Live on UK Food on Wednesday, October 9.

s.ventura@dailyrecord.co.uk
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 28, 2002
Words:1064
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