Throw a Mexican-Italian woman in the kitchen, and she’ll cook her butt off.
That’s at least what Valerie E. Vasquez hopes to prove on FOX’s newest unscripted cooking series, My Kitchen Rules. The show, airing on Thursday, pits celebrity duos against each other in a competitive cooking battle that won’t skip on the drama (think The Real World meets Top Chef.) Each duo will host the teams at their Hollywood homes, where they’ll serve up their best meal – and prepare for the reviews to roll in.
Vasquez, a hair stylist and makeup artist, is paired up with none other than her husband, Andrew Dice Clay. Though her comedian-actor husband may not be as comfortable in the kitchen, Vasquez grew up cooking authentic Mexican and Italian recipes worthy enough to serve up on the show. We chatted with the star about her TV debut, working with her husband and the on-screen drama. Read it all in our exclusive interview ahead:
Congratulations on the show! Can you tell us how the competition aspect of it will play out?
Thank you! So, there are five “pairs,” because not everybody is a married couple. And we basically all take turns hosting a dinner party, and then everybody gets judged at the end of the night, which for someone like me, who has never done anything in front of a camera, was really terrifying. But I’m a big Cupcake Wars/Halloween Wars fan, so I was like, is this really happening? I get nervous for those people, so I’m like, How did I land here?! It was pretty crazy, and there are two celebrity judges who host each dinner party – Cat Cora and Curtis Stone. I adore both of them and look up to them, so that was pretty nerve-racking in itself, knowing they’re going to try your food and then look you in the eyes and tell you exactly what they think.
Being that your husband is more used to being on camera, did he talk you through the nervousness?
He did! He really had to convince me to do this project; I’m not going to lie. Only because I’m a behind-the-scenes girl. I do hair and makeup and wardrobe, and I love entertainment, but I love being the person behind the scenes helping to put it together. We actually did do a reality pilot. I knew the opportunity behind it, but it was never something I was seeking. But I grew up playing Brandy’s [who’s a contestant on the show] album, and then all of a sudden I’m sitting next to her!
What cooking experience did you have prior to the show?
I’ve been cooking my whole life. Cooking is what I love to do and what I’ve always done. That’s kind of where Andrew was like, "What are you talking about? You cook all day, every day!” But not in competitions! And also, I do love entertaining and cooking and we have a lot of barbecues and stuff but I’m like buffet-style. I’ll make a pot of sauce and meatballs, and a big ziti and set it up, but I’ve never had a true dinner party, so that was all new to me.
What was it like to work with your husband on the show otherwise?
I don’t want to give too much away, but I will tell you that we were the only ones who cooked for the first time together! Everybody else was practicing. And prior to filming he was like, "You got this! Don’t worry!" And I was like, I don’t even know if you know how to cut an onion! I mean, I was practicing our dishes before we started – everybody did, because we all had a chance to be prepared and get our stuff together, but as a team, you’ll see the first time ever on TV!
Being that you have both backgrounds, do you cook both Mexican and Italian food?
Yes! My dad’s Mexican-American, and my mom’s Italian and Jewish, so growing up that’s pretty much what I cooked, and then just regular American dishes.
How was it working with the other teams?
It was pretty surreal and great. I went to beauty school – and in a group of 80-something girls, there’s bound to be problems and drama, right? But it never happened with me. I’m just not that person, I guess. There was definitely some drama on that show, though. I think when people compete, it’s just going to naturally happen. I got competitive, but it didn’t create anything with any of the other duos, but I think some stuff happened with other people.
True or false: Cooking competition shows such as this have a real timer and are just as stressful as they appear on TV.
100% true! Maybe the fact that I’ve had no TV experience added to it, but it almost makes your stomach completely turn! You want to do good, for all the people that aren’t in the situation – for all your family and friends watching, you know, you don’t want to turn anyone down. And that was just happening naturally.
Catch My Kitchen Rules on Thursday, January 12 at 9pm EST on FOX.