Why let the fact that you don’t cook and a Pandemic stop you from launching a cooking show? Wendy Stuart certainly didn’t….as the creator and star of “Pandemic Cooking with Wendy,” she will be featured in Chef Joe Zaso’s latest cookbook “Café Himbo’s Quarantine Cuisine” with the recipe “Nurse Jed Ryan’s Truffle Potato Chip Encrusted Chicken.” Jed Ryan is a frontline nurse and nightlife performer who believes you can never have too many cooks in the kitchen.
Going from not knowing how to cook to being part of what might become a world famous cookbook….how do you think that happened?
Launching “Pandemic Cooking With Wendy” was my response to what I considered to be a surreal situation. Literally our lives changed overnight. I am a performer, an entertainer, a comedian, an extrovert, an activist and now you’re going to tell me I can’t do any of the things I’ve spent my entire life doing? Not happening! I immediately thought about how I can do my thing that I did in the outside world. But being a funny person what would be the least expected thing? A Cooking Show! I am legend for ordering in, fine dining out or unrefined dining out, I even love airplane food! Gosh I used to keep yellow pages in the oven. (Now Just magazines) So this idea hit me that I knew people would find funny. When I think we started filming 3/16 and now we have 30 episodes as of today on WendyStuartTV on my YouTube Channel it’s incredible. Let’s face it practice makes perfect and I think combining actually cooking with comedy is a win-win situation. And somewhere along the way I started to like doing it! It’s extremely creative and another form of creative expression. And seriously my first meal that I happened to cook was a mistake! I had ordered what I thought were ready made meals from Fresh Direct and all were not. The Spatchcock Chicken was actual ingredients. That I had to cook. And chop!!!! OMG!!!! It did come with a recipe however. The Gods were watching over me.
Chef Zaso of Cafe Himbo Quarantine cooking loved Nurse Jed Ryan’s Truffle Potato Chip Encrusted Chicken with the Truffle Oil Drizzled Vegetables. This was a day before masks and social distancing, so he came on the show and we cooked together. And the rest is history!
Do you plan on taking on cooking as part of your career?
Yes! I think this is a great idea! I’ve binge watched regular cooking shows and what I think about what I’m showing is you can be having a seriously fun time cooking if you are honest with your audience. Talk about how you’ve lost track of days and that’s something your audience can relate to. But fast forward to when things are more normalized. A show where someone is cooking and talking about their personal life can be very entertaining. When I’m on camera I’m talking to my besties and there is no filter. So, as part of my comedy career I think this kind of show is in order. And we’re actually cooking. People are texting me that they’re using my recipes!!!!!
Tell us about the creator of the cookbook?
Chef Joe Zaso has a background producing horror films. So, there will be “cult movie legends, genre stars, and entertainment personalities”
Who will join you in the cookbook endeavor?
I’m in good company so to speak! The brilliant writer Michael Musto, Drag Personality Hedda Lettuce, Horror writer Elizabeth Blue, Metaphysical Author and Speaker Sasha Graham, Elizabeth Shepherd Omen II: Damien and more!
What is the premise of the new cookbook?
The premise of the book is that Joe, a veteran of horror films is dubbed a Horror Himbo by the press, so he developed “Cafe Himbo” a series of 7 cookbooks that are kitschy, campy, with user friendly recipes filled with innuendo. This new book is based on the trials and challenges of those who are isolated, cooking and eating more than ever! “An e-cookbook with a dash of campy and a sprinkle of naughty.”
What new projects are on the horizon for you?
Oh do I have projects! A huge one I’ve been working on during the Pandemic is the documentary I’m producing that I’m also the host on called “Working Dogs A Love Story” We have been shooting for a year, my husband Alan Kaplan is the videographer, and are now working with an editor to finish this feature length doc by the fall. We explore the relationships between the human animal bond and the animal human bond in terms of service and therapy dogs and the impact they have on our lives. From a Havanese who reminds her epileptic person when to take his medicine so he doesn’t have a seizure, to a bloodhound who assists the K9 police unit finding someone who has Alzheimer’s and has wandered off, to a seeing eye dog who counts steps to take his person safely to the supermarket to a Doberman who is trained to let small children read to him to help with their reading skills. And these are only a few of the relationships we explore.
Prior to the Pandemic I had produced a large Studio 54 type club night including two shows with 10 performers in January so once we can all gather safely again, I’m planning to do another one of those with my event partner. Of course, during this entire Pandemic I’ve been guests on radio and podcasts on Zoom right from the corner of my couch. I love being interviewed and doing the interview as I’m insatiably curious about everyone and everything and I read anything that comes my way. However, I’m not tech oriented and this Pandemic has forced me to be more tech oriented. I created a little studio in my apt for Zoom interviews with lighting I bought specially for this purpose. Of course, my very own kitchen is the set for Pandemic Cooking With Wendy. I’ve actually had people comment my kitchen is a little messy and I tell them it’s authentic! Like me!
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to make cooking their career?
To all those would be chefs, if cooking is your passion then you are ahead of the game because the sky is the limit. There are recipe choices that go on for infinity and you can put your own spin on anything. For those of you like me who were just testing the waters: it can be an amazing opportunity to find your creative inner chef! Don’t be afraid. Cooking allows you to take risks! Combining taste, ingredients, textures, and your final stunning presentation can be very fulfilling. It’s like finishing a painting, the only difference is that when your masterpiece is finished you can eat it!
Watch “Pandemic Cooking with Wendy” every day starring Wendy Stuart Kaplan on Youtube here:
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Chef Joe Zaso’s Latest Cookbook “Café Himbo’s Quarantine Cuisine” featuring Wendy Stuart will be available worldwide on Friday May 15th, 2020 on Amazon and https://www.joezaso.net