Valerie Bertinelli Reveals the Inspiration Behind Her New Show

Valerie Bertinelli reveals what fans can expect to see on her new Food Network cooking show, Valerie's Home Cooking.
Valerie Bertinelli

Photo by: Justin Lubin ©2015, Television Food Network. G.P. All Rights Reserved

Justin Lubin, 2015, Television Food Network. G.P. All Rights Reserved

On Valerie's Home Cooking, premiering Aug. 8 at 12|11c, actress and Kids Baking Championship co-host Valerie Bertinelli offers up her interpretations of her family recipes. She reveals that her grandma and mom were her cooking mentors when she was growing up. The recipes she's learned from them are the ones she'll always hold dear, but when it comes to cooking those recipes today, there's always room for a little twist.

In the new series, you'll find Valerie cooking those favorite storied recipes. Joining her at the table will be her family, including her husband, Tom, and her son, Wolfie; she's even having some of her dear friends over for dinner, including the funny ladies of Hot in Cleveland.

FN Dish recently caught up with Valerie to chat about the new show, her cooking habits and the inspiration behind her recipes. Here's what Valerie had to say.

FN Dish: How would you describe your cooking show? What can fans expect to see?

Valerie Bertinelli: They can expect to see ... all the recipes that I’ve learned through my family and friends — [recipes] that I’m just going to add my own flavor, twist [and] make it a little more modern. [I want fans] coming into my home and enjoying a half-hour with me.

Are we going to see some famous family recipes?

VB: Yes, definitely! I’m going to give away some of my secret recipes. ... My lasagna. My gumbo. My quiche. I want to bring the '80s back, and I want to bring the quiche back. [laughs]

How does it feel for you to be joining the Food Network family?

VB: I’m so excited! ... I’ve been a Food Network fan for way too many years. And to actually be on the network now and [be a] part of the family is just a dream come true.

How was it reuniting with your Hot in Cleveland co-stars in the premiere episode?

VB: It was so much fun. We meet anyway every month while we're all in town, sometimes sooner, like every couple of weeks. But for them to come and be on the show with me was such a treat. They are just ... some of my dearest friends. I just adore them. Since we can’t work together anymore, we'll just have fun and eat together.

Are there any other special guests that you'll be having on this season?

VB: My friends, my family, Wolfie. My husband will be making cocktails for us. Everyone will get to know him, which is exciting for me. But it's mainly people in my life that I spend the most time with. My book group girls — they are all going to come over for dinner.

When did you first get interested in cooking? What's your earliest memory of it?

VB: I [remember] sitting on the stool watching my nonni roll out gnocchi, cappelletti and fry bread, and asking me what I wanted in the fry bread, whether I wanted it sweet or savory, jelly or cheese. I still have her rolling pin and it's probably one of my most-prized possessions. And watching my mom cook three meals without a microwave. She made our breakfast and was making our lunches while we were sitting eating breakfast for school. Then we'd come home to a great home-cooked meal. So it's always watching masters in the kitchen, which were the women in my life.

Would you say they were your cooking mentors?

VB: Oh, absolutely. ... My mom had a wonderful risotto that I still haven't perfected. She really makes a mean roast chicken. I mean, it was perfect every single time and I still don't know how she did it.

Are you making any of her recipes on the show?

VB: Oh, yeah! I mean, like, the lasagna recipe that I’m making, that’s my grandmother’s and my mother’s recipe, but I’ve twisted it up and made it a little more modern. And for my mom to actually taste it on the program — because she’s a real traditionalist, [she's] got to have ricotta (and I don’t have ricotta in mine) — and she actually liked it, which was a very nice moment for me.

What is your most-requested dish?

VB: Gumbo. ... It's something that I make once or twice a year ... and it takes me all day to do it, and I do it with my husband, which is always nice. We freeze it. It's my brother Patrick and his wife Stacy's recipe that I've changed a little bit and they still have their version, but it's their version, and I love the way Stacy makes the recipe. And it's fun to make and it's so damn delicious.

What would be your best dish with only five ingredients? What could you come up with?

VB: Pasta. It would be something to do with pasta, definitely. Because you can make pasta with, you know, two ingredients, with three ingredients, and it still tastes good. And so I guess what I would do is I would have some sort of pasta, probably orecchiette because that’s one of my favorite ones. ... They kind of hold anything you put in them. ... You can make a really simple pasta with arugula and some mascarpone, lemon ... pine nuts.

Is there something you do at home to help you manage your time while cooking?

VB: It's the prep. I think prep is the most important. If you get everything prepped in front of you, the mise en place, that is probably one of the most-important things you can do, because it's all sitting in front of you and you're not looking for anything. And the timing of the ingredients when they need to go in there are all ready and set for you.

What's your favorite kitchen tool?

VB: A really good knife. You can't do anything without it.

What do you like to cook for your family?

VB: We like to grill a lot. We like to grill chicken, salmon, crab legs. We definitely get a lot of use out of our grill. We're doing a lot of marinating ... and a lot of grilling.

What would be your ideal grilling or outdoor entertaining menu?

VB: Some sort of really great bean salad, but on the Southwestern side, with corn and some kind of cheese in it and, like, a cumin seasoning with the dressing. Or a really great light shrimp salad with some jicama ... and some avocado with a great dressing. ... Then [I'd] have Tom grilling some ribs ... chicken or steak. And then a nice green salad, something with kale in it or some really deep-dark greens like arugula, and a really nice light dressing.

And how about dessert?

VB: Something with lemon or just good old watermelon, because this is the time to eat it. It doesn’t stay in season very long. ... Take advantage of it while you can.