Long before Valerie Bertinelli was stealing teenage boy's hearts on One Day at a Time, being a hot mama while living a rock and roll style, chilling our souls on Touched by an Angel, and making us laugh on Hot in Cleveland, she was honing her craft in the kitchen. And with years of experience whipping up delectable dishes for family and friends, she's now taking her passion to the tubes with her new show, "Valerie's Home Cooking" that starts August 8th on Food Network. Before the shows big debut, we chatted it up with this superwoman all about family inspiration and even swapped recipes teaching us the lesson that learning can be endless in the most fun of ways.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): I'm so excited to talk to you because I feel like I grew up with you and also, my dad totally has the hots for you. So yeah, I just wanted to make it weird right off the bat.
Valerie Bertinelli: [Laughs.] Oh my god that's hysterical. I love it! Please tell your dad I said hi.
Ha! I'll never hear the end of it if I do! I'm really excited for your show to start and I was wondering, as your son was growing up, did you do a lot of cooking together?
We didn't do a lot of cooking together but I did a lot of cooking while he was sitting there. Like, he'd come home from school, have a little snack, have some fun, and then sit at the kitchen table to do his homework. That way I was able to keep an eye on him! It was kind of like my little way of looking over him by saying, "Honey I have to be in the kitchen too! I'm cooking!"
Very sneaky and so cute! Did your family do a lot of cooking when you were coming up?
Oh please! My mom would make our lunches in the morning while she was making breakfast, while we were at school she'd do the shopping for dinner, and she'd have an amazing dinner when my dad got home from work around six. We'd have dinner every night together. My mom was a machine!
I love that. I learned to cook pretty early on because I guess I wanted to shake it up a bit. My mom is going to kill me for this but, we used to call her pork chops "bubblegum pork" because, well, chewy.
Oh really? [Laughs.] Well my mom did burn a few things but I guess you're going to screw up your average when you cook every night. My mom once made this weird bean concoction one night and we were like, uhhh no mom. This doesn't work. It was like lima beans and baked beans. [Laughs.] It was very rare for her to have a misstep like that though.
OK wow. I agree, that sounds awful. So on the premiere episode you have your Hot in Cleveland co-stars on. Are they pretty helpful in the kitchen or are they more of the razzing spectator type?
A little bit of both! [Laughs.] They do love to razz me but that's our relationship and that's why I love them so dearly. They don't let me get away with anything! Jane actually happens to be a really great cook too so I stole her dressing recipe and then made it for her. She loved it but she teases me about that. These girls are all different with their food choices so it was a challenge to come up with a menu that they all would like but, I think I accomplished it.
I can't imagine Betty White cooking. I'm sure she does, I just can't envision it.
Oh no, Betty does not cook! [Laughs.] She only has certain things that she loves to eat on her menu and, it's a very short menu. As long as you have one of those things though, she'll be very happy! I adore that woman so much!
That makes my heart burst. For me, preparing food for people that you care about has such an intimate feeling to it. Not sure if that makes sense, alas...
It does and you know, you make a very good point. When you cook for someone you're actually showing a vulnerability. It's a very vulnerable thing to make something for someone that hopefully they'll like. And if they don't like it, you can't take it personal because it might not match with someone's flavor profile. It really is a very vulnerable thing to do and you're just making me realize that! The nervousness I feel when I cook for someone is just because I love them and I want to show them how much through food. You hopefully make things that you like but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to like it. That is a lot of how I show people love and that's a big way that it was shown to me. It's all through food.
And when your son comes home from being a total rock star, what's his number one request from mom?
You know, he's really not that way! He's got really simple taste. He loves chicken, he loves my turkey meatball soup, and if I grill salmon, he's super happy. He's really quite easy and simple. He does like to take me out for sushi and that's one thing I haven't tried yet, making sushi. I need to do that.
Oh that's a hard one! I bought some sushi maker thing off an infomercial late one night and boy oh boy did it come out awful! More power to you on that one!
Oh my god you did not! [Laughs.] There's a reason there are sushi masters out there! Maybe it's better to not attempt what they've already perfected!
Yeah, they're incredible artists. On a side note: I love talking to chefs because it can easily inspire my dinner plans. That being said, I need ideas.
It really depends on how much time you want to spend in the kitchen or how much time you have. If it's the weekend and I want to have some fun, I might make my own pasta or I might make a lasagna if I want something that I can freeze and eat throughout the week. If I haven't had time to go to the store, I'll whip up pasta with something I have in the pantry. I also always have kale in my fridge too because I try to keep it healthy with dark greens so, I'll make a quick kale salad. A good tip with kale too is that after you clean and destem them, throw it under some super-hot water and let them blanch for a few minutes. That'll soften it up so when you are eating the kale salad, it's not so chewy!
I'm a big fan of kale chips. I make them with a little soy sauce and cayenne and then call it a day. What's your go-to?
Oh wow, that sounds great! I bet the soy sauce makes it taste better than salting them. What a good idea! I am sooo trying that! Kale is so versatile. I make them a lot of ways but I do love it with parmesan and toasted pine nuts. That's a fun twist I think. I do love that soy sauce idea though, I am totally doing that.
Awesome! I love sharing ideas! I'm really pumped to learn some new tips and recipes from your show. I feel like you can never learn enough in the kitchen.
If I can do it, you can do it! Cooking has been a passion of mine for a long time and I stopped cooking for a while in my twenties but I still learned from recipes from Ed's mother. When Wolfie was born, I really started getting back in the kitchen. It's just one of those things that you never really lose and I'm hoping that when people watch the show they'll be like, wow! I can do that too because she makes it look so easy! You don't have to be a trained chef to be able to really kick ass in the kitchen. And even if you don't like to cook, you'll still get a little glimpse into my life when you come into my kitchen.
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Hey, I'd like to. I mean, if you send out invites to be in your kitchen, I'm all about it!
You got it! We'll make your kale chips together! [Laughs.]
Set your DVR's now for "Valerie's Home Cooking" premiering on Saturday, August 8th at 12pm ET/PT on Food Network. For more info on the show, go to www.FoodNetwork.com. For more on Valerie, become a fan on Facebook and follow her on Instagram and on Twitter @WolfiesMom.