It is probably fair to say that if most men were to summon up their dream woman, Stasha Palos would not be far from the fantasy. She is tall, blonde, slim, charming and creative. She is a successful artist with two sell-out art exhibitions under her belt but the clincher is that she loves to cook for her partner — so much so that she has written a book about how you should best accomplish this, entitled How to Feed Your Man.
In this, Stasha (did I mention that she lives in a gorgeous house in fashionable Maida Vale and that her stepfather is Philip Green?) explains how you can please your man by making him a “steak with teriyaki sauce”, or “sticky painted lamb”, or a piece of carrot cake.
It may be the stuff of dreams for most men but there remain a few sour feminist bloggers who remain to be convinced, one of whom at the Guardian reckoned Stasha was taking us back to the 1950s — and not in a good way.
After Stasha has plied me with hospitality (unfortunately confined to the carrot cake in this instance) she explains that if the bloggers had bothered to read the book, they would realise that the title was firmly tongue-in-cheek.
“It’s just a little bit of fun. I used to feed my father who was a big South African man, and now I feed my partner, Tony. I just think men are very enjoyable creatures to feed. But this is also a family book. These are the recipes I make, it’s how I live my life and it’s how I cook.”
Does she also cook for step-dad, Green? “I do occasionally but my mother is a wonderful cook so she tends to do that.”
How to Feed a Man is about more than the recipes. It is quirky, artistic and has clearly had plenty of money thrown at it.
Stasha says: “I wanted it to be different — almost a coffee-table book that you keep in the kitchen. You can look at it, you can read it, you can get it sticky and you can work from it. It’s visually stimulating. I know from my children who always tell the truth and they love the pictures and looking through it.”
Stasha feels that the book reflects her own desire to look after her family — and she sees nothing anti-feminist in that. “I enjoy it and I enjoy the rewards of doing it. I’ve always watched my mother feed us and I’ve never questioned that this is my role, among others of course.”
In that vein, Stasha includes a recipe for “Grandma Shiela’s chicken soup and kneidlach”.
She recalls: “I remember standing there with her, and her telling me how to take the shmaltz off the top and how to make the kneidls. These are thing things you have to listen to. You can’t argue with a Jewish grandmother. You listen, you keep you mouth shut and you replicate it as best you can.”
She adds: “It’s important to think of the person making the recipe. When I was 13 I wanted to make a quiche. I went through every stage and I felt really proud. I put it in the oven and the whole thing poured out because I hadn’t baked the pastry first. I’ve never made a quiche since. So I always try to think through every eventuality.”
So what do men really like to eat? I ask Stasha what she would feed me, not that I am particularly hungry after the carrot cake. “It depends on the man I suppose, Are you a steak man? Well. A steak and baked potato and a nice glass of wine or beer — there you go.”
A creative all-rounder, Stasha also helped design her book. Since completing that project she has produced another collection of paintings, entitled Colour, which will be exhibited next week in Marylebone. She paints freestyle with her bare hands, saying “I do not have the patience to sit still with a brush”.
‘How To Feed a Man’ is published by Damn Fine Books at £19.99
‘Colour’ is at Imitate Modern Gallery, 27a Devonshire Street, London W1, June 25-30. www.imitatemodern.com