Kathy Wakile Shows Her Sweet Side

imageAs many of you know I love to cook, especially bake. It’s a skill I learned very young and I’m always looking to expand my culinary knowledge. So when Kathy Wakile announced she would be publishing some of her recipes for the magnificent bite sized treats she’s always showcasing on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, I made a note on my mental wish list. I mean, I have had this woman’s cannolis at more than one event and they literally are to die for!

The book, Indulge (St. Martin’s Press) recently released and the Wakiles, yes Richie is by his wife’s side every step of the way, are on a book tour. On September 11th they held a book signing event at Books and Greetings in Northvale, NJ. Kathy answered questions from fans and foodies, along with one nervous newlywed who claims she can’t cook beyond Easy Mac. Kathy assured her that there are recipes for cooks at every level in Indulge (which she wrote with Miriam Harris).

Broken into reimagecipes by season, so that we can use the freshest and most abundant ingredients, Indulge is a treat in itself with vibrant photos of food and family. In the audience was Kathy’s own niece, who had driven over an hour to surprise her aunt who she fondly remembers with the 80’s big hair and a “lip phone”. As Kathy said to me, cooking for others is the fastest way to “make people happy.”  I believe the beautifully bound Indulge will help bakers of all abilities make many people happy…but don’t go looking for the cannoli recipe…as sweet as Kathy is, she’s still smart about her business. Read on to find out what else she told me…

 

TBB: How many recipes are in the book?

KW: There are over 75 recipes in the book. I didn’t count them, but I know there’s over 75.

TBB: Which one is your absolute favorite and why?

KW: You know, that’s like asking me which on of my kids is my favorite (laughs). I’m only kidding! I think the lemon tiramisu or the lemon cheescake are really my favorites taste wise, just because I love lemon, but there’s a really sentimentel one, and it’s called Figs In a Basket. It has a lot of sentimental significance to me.

TBB: Because…

KW: …because the day after Rich and I got engaged my mother and father invited his family over for dinner. At that point our families didn’t know eachother really well and my parents spoke with an accent and his parents spoke with a different accent. After the dinner was over we all went out to the deck and my father presented my in-laws this big basket of figs and their eyes just lit up like “these people are just like us.” There was this mediterranean commonality. It meant so much. It was the best harvest we’ve ever had with the figs. After that (my father) planted (figs) in their yard too. It was just a really nice day.

TBB: How long did the process of writing Indulge take?

KW: Over a year, a long long year. It took a lot of time.

TBB: You have such a passion for baking, any cooking shows in the works?

KW:  You never know, you never know! I am working on some things right now so we’ll see what happens!

TBB: What recipe should beginning bakers try first?

KW: I think the apple crumble is just the perfect thing for a beginner to do and if you don’t like apples and you want to substitute it with peach that will work too.

TBB: Have you been watching the new season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey?

KW: Yeah, I’ve been watching.

TBB: What are your feelings on the new cast members?

KW: I haven’t gotten a chance to get to know Amber (Marchese) too well, I only filmed with her a little bit but Nicole (Napolitano) and Teresa (Aprea) I got to know and I like them, they’re a lot of fun. I honestly think it’s hard when you’re invested in a previous cast and their families. It’s hard being the new kid on the block, being the new kid at school, and I feel for them because I was the new kid at school too but I think they’re a lot of fun.

TBB: I have to ask, has your other famous cookbook writing cousin congratulated you yet?

KW: No, no comment.

***Stay tuned to TBB as we will be testing one of Kathy’s recipes!…Ok probably more than one!

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RHONJ Premier Party-A New New Jersey

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I confess, I’ve distanced myself from the party scene a bit. I’m a person who doesn’t like things to ever feel too forced in my life, and I’m at a point when I need to quiet things down a bit, not out of necessity, just because at the time it feels natural for me. Honestly, as cool as getting dressed up and going out to parties can be, in the core of my heart I’m just a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl who enjoys sitting on the floor with her three year olds.

On the flip side, as much as I believe in a natural flow to life, I also thoroughly believe in signs, and anytime I get too far off the course of this crazy “other life” I’ve fallen into, there are mystical powers that set me back on the road to wherever it is this is taking me. My story of the Real Housewives of New Jersey season 6 premier party is one of those cases.

I didn’t really intend to go to this premier. In the past my prime connections to the show have been Caroline ManzoJacqueline Laurita, and Kathy Wakile. This is just the way things have always worked out. Remember, I tend to follow the natural flow of things…I can’t do a lifestyle of resistance. With those three ladies uninvolved I sort of felt removed from the show. Then friends of mine bought me a ticket making it impossible for me to say “no” (don’t worry I got them back by showing up with a lovely gift for their recent wedding anniversary).

My expectations of this party were quite different from the, for lack of a better word, reality of it. Having attended Kristen Taekman‘s Real Housewives of New York premier party I’d assumed this would be similar. Passed hor d’oeuvres and a screening, but considering the RHONY party was invite only, and the RHONJ one was open to anyone who purchased the $100 ticket benefiting Dina Manzo‘s Project Ladybug and the Deborah Hospital Foundation I knew it would be on a more chaotic scale. Chaos, for sure ensued.

The party was hosted by Velocity 1 Media. The venue, Pure in Parsippany, NJ, was a restaurant lounge located in a Holiday Inn. I have to say, once inside it felt more like a city lounge than one in a chain hotel off of NJ’s Route 46. After waiting outside in the humidity (one staffer said the girl’s were “fashionably late”) the masses were finally let inside, but instead of the all out come one come all mingling I’d experienced at Taekman’s soiree, the feel was very segregated. One side were the masses, and the other, behind chains and very serious bouncers, were the Housewives and their guests. That’s where one could find Dina, Melissa and Joe Gorga, Amber Marchese, and Untying the Knot star Vikki Zeigler. Further back from that, in a private room, was Teresa Giudice. She spent the entire evening either in there or stepping out to take pictures with the fans who were lucky enough to get passed the guards…and those guards were strict.

Fortunately for me, I’ve been to enough events that I’ve made friends in this industry who were already passed the proverbial velvet ropes. They let the guards know I was safe to let in. Not that anybody looked menacing. We all know HW fans can be quite intimidating on Twitter, but in person we’re mostly regular housewives and fabulous gay men, hardly a threat.

Even with my ability to get into the VIP area and freely rub elbows with Melissa and Joe, there was something about Dina that made me wary of approaching her. For one she was mobbed by fans on the occasions that she did come out into the general admission area, for two, I’ve historically done much press with family members she’s notoriously on the outs with. I honestly was concerned about how I would be received. Then, that fate that I mentioned before took charge in the form of an old high school classmate who recognized me from 20 years ago. Was she a Housewives fan I wanted to know. Actually she works for Dina. Hello divine intervention! I got my Dina introduction. She is sweet and so petite. Really folks, she’s adorable!

When I asked Dina how it felt to once again be experiencing premier night as a Housewife she was enthusiastic. “Tonight it feels amazing!” she gushed. We’re here raising money for two great causes, Project Ladybug being one of them, and meeting the fans has always been my favorite part of this. Everyone is so nice!”

As the hor d’oeuvres eluded me (I don’t eat chicken so I kept trying to get to the sushi tray, to no avail), I knocked back my complimentary Fabellini. Feeling a bit more relaxed after my drink (I clicked glasses with Joe Gorga) I scored some interviews with a few of the Bravolebs (stay tuned for those in the coming days!) and waited for the big screening. I still was thinking about how during the RHONY  party everything stopped and we all watched the show together (lucky me on the sofa with the cast). That moment never came. This was the big disappointment of the evening for me. As I was Instagramming party pics for you all, you were live tweeting the actual show that to this day I still did not get to see. Unless I wanted to watch it like a silent movie playing in the background it just wasn’t going to happen.

The other thing I feared wouldn’t happen would be some time with Teresa. I get terribly nervous about this all the time as I know many of you are die hard Tre fans. Honestly I always try my best to get to her. She’s not that easy to get access to. Fortunately when things got a bit calmer (meaning the general population was thinning out) I got a moment with the star. She looked absolutely stunning in a fitted strapless floral dress. However, the evening had taken its toll on her. She was adamant that though she would take a picture, she wasn’t doing any press. The scenes in the premier of her recently deceased father in law really got to her. “It’s been an emotional evening for me,”she said when she spoke of seeing him on the show. She also was looking for her cellphone, and anyone who has ever misplaced their phone knows what an “Oh sh*t” moment that can be. However, she was gracious and poised as she always is when I see her at an event.

Her brother on the other hand was willing to chat. Joe assured me that he and his sister are no longer feuding. “Things are good, very good,” he said about their relationship and though there will be friction on the show it will be the “young blood” against the seasoned cast members. “We’re back to normal.” And what is normal in RHONJ land? Well, when asked to describe the season in one word he said “You know how it is…DRAMA!”

What did you think about the Real Housewives of New Jersey premier episode? Share your thoughts below, your email will never be sold or publicized.

Caroline Manzo…The Next Chapter

Photo: CarolineManzo.com

Photo: CarolineManzo.com

She may no longer hold the title of Real Housewife, but Caroline Manzo is holding her head very high these days. Well rested since completing her final season on RHONJ over a year ago, she has been spending lots of time with her family and being “normal”. Now preparing for her reality television return in a new, self titled series, she’s ready to bring the light hearted laughter back to Bravo. I caught up with Caroline at the annual Spring Sparkle shopping event.

TBB: The Manzo’d With Children pilot is complete and you are about to start production on the real McCoy…

CM: Yes, the real McCoy! Eight episodes which we will start filming in about 2 weeks. I don’t know how long the process will take, maybe 8 or 9 weeks.

TBB: How do you think this will compare to filming Housewives?

CM: It’s a completely different animal. It’s a half hour (show), it’s light hearted. There will be dilemmas and stuff but not the crazy drama that Housewives was. It kind of just spotlights the way we live our life in our house.

TBB: I know your mother, Nettie Laurita, she’s a very creative , very interesting and inspiring woman. Will she be on the show at all?

CM: I don’t know. We only have 8 episodes and they will be following our lives, so I don’t know what’s going to make it on. There’s so much going on with me and Al, and the three kids (Albie, Lauren, and Christopher) and then there’s the extended family, Vito (Scalia), and my sister Fran (Laurita) who’s also on the show. That’s a lot to pack into 8 episodes in a half hour, really only 22 minutes when you count the commercials!

TBB: How are the plans for Lauren and Vito’s wedding coming along?

CM: We’re taking out time. She’s got a year left as she’s getting married next summer. We have the venue, obviously The Brownstone, and we have the church and the band booked. Probably July or August we’ll start wedding gown shopping. Then I’m just going to sit back and relax! The hardest part I don’t even have to worry about. I’m just going to show up at The Brownstone and I’m sure everything will be fine!

TBB: What has it been like knowing the The Real Housewives of New Jersey is taping and you are no longer a part of it, after you were for so many seasons from the very beginning of the series? Do you miss it at all?

CM: It was funny, my husband and my kids said to me, “We got your back,” because it takes a toll on you. I am just happy and relaxed enjoying time with Al and the kids. I’ve been playing tennis, and getting back in the gym, and cooking dinner. I’m just being normal. Not one single second did I think about it, not one moment did I miss it. I wish them all well, obviously. My time was done, I knew when it was time to go and I opted out.

TBB: Have you heard anything about the filming of Season 7?

CM: I know nothing, I know absolutely nothing. If I see any of the ladies I don’t ask about it. When something is in my past, it’s in my past. I had nothing left to give, I didn’t see eye to eye with a lot of the way things were going, so why would I go back and ask questions and wonder how filming was going? I would have stayed on otherwise. So, I left for a reason and I’m happy.

TBB: What was your initial reaction when you found out that your sister Dina (Manzo) was rejoining the cast of Housewives?

CM: It’s her choice and I’m not going to say more than that.

 

The latest Sparkle event was sponsored by Jeff Bailey, Todd Bailey, and Anthony Laurita of United Real Estate NJ. Photographed with Caroline and TBB.

The latest Sparkle event was sponsored by Jeff Bailey, Todd Bailey, and Anthony Laurita of United Real Estate NJ. Photographed with Caroline and TBB.

TBB: Are we going to see a revival of the Ham Game?

CM: I hope not! Those kids you know what, they don’t stop! I love them to death! They keep me young, they keep me laughing all the time, you know, Ham Game, who knows! If it’s not Ham Game, leave it to Christopher to think of something else I’m sure!

TBB: How’s Jacqueline doing?

CM: Jacqueline’s doing great! Nick is in therapy, we’re all hands in on that. It’s 1 step forward, 100 steps back, but I’ve always said, “If love can cure, he’ll be fine.”

TBB: Will we see Chris and Jac on (Manzo’d With Children)?

CM: I hope so, they are a very big part of my life. Again, it’s only 8 episodes and when you’ve got a family as big as mine…My house is like the hub, mine and Chris’s house are where everything all happens. But again, it’s like the Housewives, they film thousands of hours and you just never know what’s going to make it.

TBB: What do you hope viewers get out of Manzo’d With Children?

CM: I want them to smile. I want them to laugh and I want them to smile because that’s what life’s about!