With an eye to Tuscany, Brooklynite Debi Mazar plots culinary future
Debi Mazar and her brood spend at least a month in Tuscany each year, but if the “Younger” actress had her way, the region would be a far more permanent fixture in her life.
“If I didn’t have children in American schools, I would leave tomorrow,” the New Yorker says.
While the charms of the Italian region are obvious, it’s more personal for Mazar: It’s where she met her husband, chef Gabriele Corcos, the inspiration for the couple’s Brooklyn restaurant, Under the Tuscan Gun, and where they hope to open a culinary school and bed and breakfast.
The couple’s dreams are an extension of the success they’ve had as a culinary couple: Their Cooking Channel show, “Extra Virgin,” in which the entire family played comedic supporting roles to whatever dish was the star for that episode, gave Mazar a new identity outside of her acting one. She hopes to expand that with a lifestyle brand, and more recently, she became a spokeswoman for cooking vinaigrette Soy Vay’s, talking recipes on its website.
“[With YouTube videos], you end up having to press rewind — ‘Oh my god, what did they do there? How did they do that?’ And you have to click around; it can be frustrating,” she said. “With this one, you don’t even have to touch your computer. You set it up and boom, you just go, and it’s fantastic.”
She’s planning another show to follow up “Extra Virgin,” which won a coveted James Beard award this year.
But Mazar remains committed to her acting career, noting it will always be her first love and career priority: Season three of the sitcom “Younger” debuts in September on TV Land.
She talked about cooking in a recent interview with the Associated Press.
AP: Do you like to use a lot of tech stuff in the kitchen?
Mazar: No, I don’t use any tech stuff in the kitchen. I know how to cook. But the difference is … I like to use tech stuff every place else. I have one good knife that I love … I have a cutting board. I like to use my hands a lot. I also like to use cookbooks. I like to get inspired … When I cook a recipe of Cuban Ropa Vieja, I feel like I’m going on vacation.
AP: “Extra Virgin” ran for six years. What’s next for you and your husband in front of the camera?
Mazar: We are in the middle of writing again, and we are about to go out and sell a new show … We’re also trying to open up a bed and breakfast in Italy and a cooking school. … We have the property so we’re working on that, so we have a lot of irons in the fire … We’re nurturing and just growing everything from the ground up. It’s very much the natural progression of our brand. Nothing is forced, it’s what we believe and it’s what we live, and we’re trying to be true to what we like and want to share with people.
AP: How will the new cooking show be different?
Mazar: That I can’t tell you, because it’s not here yet, but it won’t be the same thing as before, and we’re still in the process of kind of figuring that out ourselves, but we have a couple of ideas … I created the format for the Cooking Channel; it had never been done before, a docu-show. It wasn’t reality, it was completely scripted, completely created in the sense that you weren’t seeing my personal business. You were seeing parts of my life, but there were no fights, no meltdowns; the food was the star, not me.
AP: Did your daughters (Evelina, 14, and Giulia, 10) enjoy doing it?
Mazar: They were young when they started. I think it was really natural … Giulia, she loves being on camera, the other one loves to be a food critic and [taster] … Whether or not they’re going to be included in my next round of food or entertainment remains to be seen.
AP: How does life change when you go to Tuscany?
Mazar: The first two weeks, nothing changes … I wanna run down to Florence, I want to pound the pavement and be a tourist … Somehow it starts to shift where I kind of calm down, all of a sudden I can breathe and … I start staring at the olive trees; they glisten with their silver tone … I hear the noise of the wild boars … I somehow become a country girl, it’s very green acres … I want to get on a tractor.