But now Nigella Lawson, daughter of former Chancellor Nigel Lawson, has revealed that when she was a child she was plagued by 'melancholia' and self-doubts – and described her TV persona as a 'circus act'.
The 53-year-old star told Newsweek: "Maybe I didn't feel very lovable for a child. When I was small I just couldn't get out of my little dark place.
"My mother thought I was autistic, because I would be sitting on a swing talking to myself. As I get older I am much less prone to bouts of melancholia.
"I used to not be able to get up in the morning."
She said it was a well-known sign of depression, but added: "Well - I've got better at that."
She said: "People think that if you cook you're all sweetness and light. And I am a dark person. Which doesn't mean I don't take an inordinate amount of pleasure in life."
In another revelation, Nigella described her aversion to crying.
She said: "I don't like women crying in offices, but then I'm not crazy about men crying in offices either. I did send my boss home once for crying in the office. Even if I'm exhausted to the point of weeping I wouldn't. I'm proud and I never cry."
She also said that her flamboyant television persona was all a 'circus act'.
Nigella experienced tragedy with the death of her first husband John Diamond, father of her two children Cosima, 19, and Bruno, 13, from throat cancer at the age of 41 in 2001.
She is now married to advertising guru and art collector Charles Saatchi.
Her US interview comes amid her new found fame in America, where she has acted as a judge on ABC cooking show The Taste.