As she sauntered along Mulberry Street during the Feast of San Gennaro last month, Chrissy Teigen paused to sample a heaping platter of funnel cakes from one of the myriad food stalls.
“Oh, that’s John Legend’s wife,” the vendor murmured to his colleague inside, just audibly enough to rile her.
Ms. Teigen shot back with a chilly smile: “Guys, you’re talking about me like I’m not here. I’m right here.” (Ms. Teigen added an expletive for good measure.)
Here, there and everywhere, it seems. She has parlayed her status as a Sports Illustrated cover model and, yes, the bracingly irreverent wife of a singing star into that of a pop culture fixture.
A natural comic, she is a voluble and engaging presence on Twitter, Instagram and her food blog, So Delushious, which is punctuated with profanity-larded recipes and, on occasion, a naked selfie.
Along with LL Cool J, she hosts “Lip Sync Battle” on Spike, mugging shamelessly as she mouths the words to standards and pop tunes. She is also a regular contributor to TMZ, MTV and VH1, among others, and only last week spoke candidly on E! News and “FABLife,” her new show, about her struggle to conceive, her comments picked up on People.com.
She has certainly had a hand in the success of the “FABLife,” the ABC daytime round table moderated by Tyra Banks, on which Ms. Teigen prepares dishes from her Thai mother’s kitchen. The show, according to Nielsen, has been a hit around the country.
Ms. Teigen was very much on view at the San Gennaro feast, a rangy, apple-cheeked magnet to passers-by. She had made sure that she would be, wearing a cream-colored Antonio Berardi tunic over the briefest frayed denim shorts and thigh-clutching Altuzarra boots. She toted, she imparted knowingly, “my Faye bag — it’s Chloé.”
“I was debating a leather jacket, but the heat nixed it,” she said over a lemonade as she settled at a corner table at Seamore’s, the thrumming seafood restaurant on Broome Street. Almost instantly, the procession caught her eye.
“Oh, here’s the saint,” she said breathlessly, as San Gennaro’s painted effigy passed. “The last time I saw him, people were throwing money.”
The festival and Little Italy itself captivate the 29-year-old Ms. Teigen, who lives in its cacophonous heart. “In the summer this place looks like the Jersey Shore: all tans and flip-flops,” she said. “I like the excitement, people buying things, the fried Twinkies and doughnuts.
“I’m like a kid who comes to an amusement park. All that’s missing is a petting zoo.”
Her real-life petting zoo consists of the bulldogs she shares with Mr. Legend, which turn up routinely on her Instagram account. “Before a dog in bed gets you all riled up, just know that we stink equally,” read one recent post. Such unfiltered remarks bolster her reputation as outspoken and refreshingly real.
An earlier post, a raw-looking snapshot of her thighs, bluntly captioned, “Bruises from bumping kitchen drawer handles for a week. Stretchies say hi!” was even more instrumental in building her rabidly loyal female following.
On the street, just the same, Ms. Teigen attracts low whistles and catcalls. “It’s so weird to hear, like, ‘baby,’ from a man,” she said, perhaps a bit naïvely. “I’ve just never been that girl.”
Female viewers are the target audience for “FABLife.” As the show’s food stylist, Ms. Teigen shares the spotlight with Ms. Banks and Joe Zee of Yahoo Style, who weighs in each day as the fashion pundit.
Female viewers will be the likely target as well for “Ordinary People,” a romantic comedy being produced by Ms. Teigen and Mr. Legend for ABC. The show will have musical elements inspired loosely by the couple’s relationship.
Such a roster of commitments leaves little time for modeling. Not that Ms. Teigen — who has had stints as a so-called catalog girl and, at the more lustrous end of the business, assignments for W magazine — is wringing her hands.
“Modeling was never a passion,” she said. “I don’t like the constant fittings. The hair and makeup takes 20 times longer than the shoot.”
“I find myself dreading it,” she added. “For a week before any shoot, I would wake up and count the days. Besides, you can’t love food as much as I do and then be looking at pictures of yourself.”