This Broadway Star’s Meals Revolve Around His Tight Costumes
We asked Jarrod Spector, star of The Cher Show, how he eats.
There’s nothing we at Food Network enjoy more than hearing about how different people eat and cook — from their meal prep routines to the restaurants they love to the cooking lessons that changed their lives. Because, as the saying goes, you are what you eat — and we want to know everything.
Today we’ve got Tony-nominated actor Jarrod Spector (perhaps you saw him in Jersey Boys or Beautiful) who currently stars as Sonny Bono in The Cher Show, which debuted this December on Broadway. Here, he talks about how important food is to fueling his show schedule and the meals he eats to feel at home.
It all started with his mother:
"I grew up in a very tight family of six. We were sort of a Brady Bunch family. My mother was married. My father was married. They both had kids, and then they got together and had me. My mother was a superb cook.
I remember when I was 8, the very first thing she taught me was shrimp marinara. She put me on a little stool next to her at the counter, and she taught me everything about the cleaning and the butterflying and the flouring and frying it properly and making the sauce and everything.
We would always have spaghetti and meatballs once a week, and I know that sounds like, "oh, yeah, so simple," but my mother’s spaghetti and meatballs were the best. I think she picked up, or at least modified her recipe over the years based on the Rao’s cookbook, so it’s thanks to Frank Pellegrino Jr.
We are Jewish and we had certain holiday traditions. My mother would make this incredible brisket. My grandmother would make the best kugel that the world has ever seen. It’s thick, and it has the noodles. I don’t know how she did it, but I know cream cheese was in it.
I grew up cooking and eating, and was always interested in it. In fact, years later when my mother had a hip replacement and she was sort of chair-bound, I helped cook. I cooked every night, and I thought, ‘this is the product of having been taught to cook when I was a kid.’ Of course, she was sitting in the chair and directing me what to do."
But right now it’s his job (literally) to fit into super-tight costumes designed by Bob Mackie — Cher’s longtime go-to designer:
"My job significantly influences how I eat. I’m just more regimented than I would probably be otherwise, especially if I’m in a show. As I’ve gotten a little bit older and more conscious of my metabolism, I tend to eat sugar less and eat less processed foods. A lot less bread and pasta. I still indulge in potatoes and rice. I find things that grow in the ground agree with me just fine.
The show comes down at 10:45 p.m. and by the time I get home, eat and digest, it’s 1 or 2 a.m. I try not go to sleep on a full stomach, so I usually don’t wake up until 9 or 9:30, and eat breakfast at 10 or 11. My days don’t start well if I don’t have eggs — and I’ll have grilled chicken and fruit too. I try to get a certain amount of protein knowing my body needs it, and it keeps me from gorging at lunch. I eat breakfast at a certain time ... so I can go to the gym at a certain time ... so that I can eat lunch with enough time to get ready for the show. Nobody wants to warm up and sing on a full stomach, so lunch is a light protein and vegetable and sometimes quinoa or rice."
In this particular show, everyone is in a tight Bob Mackie outfit with an open shirt — or no shirt! You don’t want to be bloated and going out in front of an audience of 1,500 with no shirt on, jumping around, trying to sing.
His (secret) coffee keeps him running:
"I don’t want to say I’m addicted, but I have to have coffee in the morning and in the afternoon. It’s critical.
I’m actually not going to say the kind of the coffee that I order because it’s a small San Francisco roaster, and if it gets out, the secret is over and they might run out of coffee. My father would kill me because he’s the one that gave me the name.
I’ve been on a bulletproof coffee kick in the morning. It has refined coconut oil with butter and a little cinnamon and you put it in the blender and it’s this luxurious, satisfying thing that is supposed to jump-start your metabolism. I believe it does, which is also why I’m talking so fast. In the afternoon, I try to drink something smaller, but more potent, so I’ve been going to this place around the corner from the theatre, called Ground Central. I notice a lot of theatre kids going there. They seem to be the coffee mecca right now. I usually order something like a long black. I have to drink so much water to counteract the coffee, but I have to have coffee, so that’s the price you pay.”
Except when he couldn’t have coffee 😂:
"When I was in Jersey Boys, believe it or not, I actually didn’t drink coffee, because if you’re all dried out it’s really hard to sing. I had to sing 27 songs a show! That is not normal. I have not been in a role like that since."
He always gets the best bite at Thanksgiving:
"When I was growing up, my mother would always make the turkey. I would sneak over while she was carving it, and on the back of the turkey are those two little round pieces of meat. They are called the oysters, and there are only two. That’s the best part of any bird. And she would give me the oysters to eat every single year! I don’t know if my siblings will know until they read this.
Now, my wife [Kelli Barrett, who’s also a Broadway actor] and I usually host Friendsgiving because our theatre schedule is so crazy — we usually have two shows Wednesday and two on Friday, and all we have is Thursday off — so we usually host all the New York 'orphans' who can’t get to their families. I don’t tell them, but I always eat the oysters before I even bring the turkey out to the table."
And he has a go-to cold remedy (which, yes, he also got from his mama):
My mother would make matzo ball soup, or sometimes it would be Italian wedding soup, or regular chicken soup with noodles. Literally Jewish penicillin. Every single time I was sick, my mother would make homemade chicken soup, which would begin with already concentrated stock, and then she added more chicken bones to it to make it double-concentrated. It was a really strong broth that would cut through anything that was wrong, and I continue that tradition today. Especially in the winter. You can stuff the onions with cloves and crush nutmeg and all the spices, carrots, chicken, celery and — oh, it’s just so good."
He’s got his favorite NYC late-night meals that come through in the clutch:
"Mamoun’s Falafel. I didn’t have a lot of eastern Mediterranean food growing up, so when I got to New York, I remember the first time I ate here. Finding incredible food at two o'clock in the morning really is part of the joy of New York. That just doesn’t happen at other places. So, man, that falafel was mind-blowing.
There were a few years I was tending bar and wouldn’t get out until 4 a.m. and I was hungry, so I would go get food from an all-night deli. Those kind of things are very specific to New York City. I have a special place in my heart for a 4 a.m. sandwich. That’s a special thing. I’d be like 'I want a club sandwich and it’s like 4 in the morning' and they’re, like, frying bacon like it’s no big deal. But I’m like 'How is this possible? Thank you, god!'"
And carbs are probably his perfect splurge meal:
"I’m sure it would be Italian. Some kind of indulgent pasta. One of my favorite pastas is the braised octopus fusilli at Marea. It’s the best pasta I’ve ever had. I could eat a gallon of that. I feel like that’s my last meal. Or spicy rigatoni a la vodka at Carbone. A simple pasta, no protein in it. Just cheese. That’s the most extraordinary.
My wife and I live close to Levain Bakery and have to walk by it every day, and every day is a trial, since we try to stay away from sugar. Once in a blue moon, we’ll get a cookie or a scone or muffins, or they have this thing called Bomboloncini, it’s like a big raspberry jelly donut. That’s our indulgence."
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.