0 21 min 2 yrs

This is Dean on the Scene and welcome to the first holiday edition of THE INTERVUE. Now even though it’s a month before Christmas. Our next interviewee will be doing a film about Christmas is called “One Delicious Christmas, which is currently being shown on Discovery+!

One Delicious Christmas explores the story of Abby Richmond who inherits a struggling Vermont culinary destination, Haven Restaurant and Inn, and needs to secure investment from restaurant mogul Alexandra Grandfield to keep it running. After a top food critic offers her a blunt review, she hires a hot-shot chef named Preston Weaver, to shake things up at the holiday menu.

And here today to talk to us about the film is the actress who plays Abby and one of the few people to crack me up and break me before the interview has started. But she’s also wonderful. Vanessa Marano.

Vanessa, Welcome to THE INTERVUE!

Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

It’s excellent to have you. And I saw the film once again earlier today beautiful film, and especially takes place in Vermont. In fact, I need to go back. It’s been so long time since I’ve been there and just seeing that film and feel the Vermont feelings. It’s exciting. Thank you for bringing us this wonderful film!

Oh, it was just such a delight to make like I love Christmas movie. I am all about Christmas movies in any capacity. So getting the chance to actually be a part of one, despite the fact that it shot in July and I was particularly flooding the entire time was actually

Before I ask the most important first question, you mentioned about Christmas movies and you’re in one, do you have an absolute favorite aside from the one you’re in right now?

I have a big “Love Actually” fan. That’s a tradition in my family is we watch a Love Actually on Christmas Eve. And I mean every time that during the point where the little boy says that the girl we have a crush on has the same name as his deceased mother. And with Emma Thompson puts on Joni Mitchell, like clockwork, I’ve seen this movie so many times, every time every time get a little champagne.

Oh, I definitely agree with you. That’s one of those films when you’d watch it across time or any other time. You’re absolutely weeping. And it’s a classic to this day, which I’m glad it’s one of your favorites, and absolutely one of mine. So what attracted you to the role of Abby Richmond?

Well, they actually called me up and we’re like, are you interested in doing this film, and I really loved the fact that like, Food Network was involved because it was premiering on discovery+ and the aspect of having food be like, what New York City is to “When Harry Met Sally”, food is to this movie. It’s like its own character in the film and for me, a huge part of the holidays.

It’s my favorite thing to all the cooking with my family and like the nostalgia of like the dishes that you make every year is such a thing that is so purely Christmas to me. And to have that aspect of it involved in this film was such a fun part of it that made it like in many ways, you know what you’re getting right? It’s a Christmas rom-com. it follows the formula, that sort of uniqueness that is in the fabric of this movie is really something that was just so enjoyable.

And this is what it’s different about other Christmas films in the past that I’ve seen that food is the character. Every time I’ve seen a delicious meal or something new that was brought to the table in this movie, it’s like, “damn, I got to enjoy this dish one of these days. I’ve got to find the recipe I got to say serve it up. I gotta eat it. I gotta enjoy it.” So I have to ask you that, there was a lot of good foods featured in this movie that will make any Christmas dinner the best. Did you have a favorite dish that was featured in this movie that you want to enjoy after wrapping up?

I couldn’t literally talk about it for six hours. All of It was amazing. We had an actual chef amongst the crew who was literally designing the recipes from scratch and making the food, making the presentation beautiful, but actually making it like edible for you.  I’ve eaten on screen quite a few times. It’s not always the best thing. Everything was incredible.

I think my favorite thing was black truffle potato, as Abby said in the film, “gratin”. It was delightful. I love truffle. I love cheese. It had me at “hello”, pretty much I was getting really good. And I remember very specifically when we’re that’s one of the dishes that Abby makes with Preston as a part of a class. And I remember turning to our chef at the end of the shoot and asked “What are you going to with all of this truffle because that stuff is expensive”. And she’s like it’s coming home with me.

I hope you’ve saved that truffle dish because when we saw that truffle dish and looked at it and gaze upon it, it’s like, “yeah, I really want to have that recipe.” So if you ever talk to that show and get that recipe, you’ve got to send that to me, I need to know that truffle recipe. I got to try it at home.

It was so great. It was so great. It was wonderful.

Well, as we both know, Abby works with the hot shot chef, Preston Weaver, played by Alex Mallari, Jr, who I will have to admit and now that he and I actually have a history. In an interview. (Editor’s Note: I proceeded to tell Vanessa my connection with Alex at a local sci-fi convention)

First of all Dean, I love the connections that you have to this project in the sense of like, having interviewed my sister before. Having now interviewed Alex. It’s like it really feels like six degrees of Dean Rogers at this moment.

You’re right, you’re absolutely right that I love it.

We’ll just be talking about it’ll be a long paragraph diatribe about how to how to get truffle hunting in the forest.

Talk to us about working with Alex during this film, because you do have quite the chemistry in his film that it was definitely believable from beginning to end, you could build a tension, you could build a romance, you can feel the love by the end of the film.

We had the best time. I personally met Alex during the table read and in person was during a rehearsal. So it wasn’t a lot of time to get to know somebody but he is so easy to work with in the sense that he’s very professional, very experienced, very talented, but also just and you notice we’re interviewing him a delight and so funny. So like when you said that thing about like he signed an autograph and brought it up and would not let you live down that it was the wrong convention. That’s Alex, he loves a joke. He loves an inside joke. He’s ready to go!

And that makes shooting a film. You know, this is obviously an easier film in the sense that its Christmas is happy. There’s many other projects that are more depressing and dark. But no matter what, like a long day shooting something and so when you get to work with somebody who just makes the day fun. It shows on screen it really does.

You’re absolutely right now, since this is a Christmas film and Christmas is right around the corner. What were what were are some of your favorite Christmas traditions that you and your family celebrate every year.

Well, this is so funny. I have been answering the question. Lady Gaga, thank you for counting and all the interviews for “A Star is Born” this is my repetitious question. For the film, Preston approaches Abby at the end is like trying to get her to change the menu and put fish on the menu and she’s like we don’t do this for Christmas. He’s like look Italians do they call it the piece of the set of dishes? That is literally what my father makes a big seafood feast and has done every single year. That’s definitely do it we literally make seafood. We bake Christmas cookies and we watch Love Actually that is our Christmas and it was funny how the reference movie even funnier for me my character being like, “I never heard about it”.

Well, you just hit on a magic word. I’m not secret band, especially being from Maryland. And we got to have the blue crab or crab every year no matter the season, so what type of seafood does your father serve for the holidays?

Fried calamari. Clams. He does crab, we are a big crab family. I’m a big believer that crab but at one point he did do lobster and my sister had been working on a project in Canada and one procedure restaurant she was like eight and whoever she was with a friend of my mom’s who has been ordered ulcers, and they took the last lobster out of the tank in front of her, and then it came back in a salad and it’s tortured my sister for the rest of her life. And so my father had to like, stop doing lobster basically for that.

Now, I have to ask, because I’m a Marylander. And crab, there’s one thing if we have to have crab in the state of Maryland, we gotta have the Old Bay. So do you enjoy Old Bay with your crab?

Yes. I am aware of and I do have the we do not have it during Christmas, though. Because when the pasta sauce actually makes it.

I want to go talk a little bit about your career since you have been in business for twenty years now, since your first role in Without a Trace. First question is, what do you look for when it comes to choosing your roles, and what you want to play to develop your craft over the two decades?

You know what’s funny is, especially from an acting perspective, it’s not really that YouTube chooses you like if you are inherently what that creator’s vision is, that will be the role that you get, obviously have situations where like, a role come your way and will be a direct offer. And you kind of get to make that choice. I’m a big believer in if something is interesting and different, and you read it and go, “Oh, this feels right for me,” like just moving forward with it.

I love to create things, I have been pivoting into being a producer, and that the more like you have full control in that sense of what you are choosing the project that you want to do, you’re developing from scratch, I look forward those projects really are female forward stories that express an experience that is rarely captured on film all the time. And that probably comes from the fact that I have been very lucky in my career that those roles that I’ve gotten to be a part of “Switched at Birth,” the show I was on for a very, very long time. A Tale as old as time, which is a teen drama and, and it’s two people who are part of different worlds having to figure out how their lives would have been different.

We have this component on that show of an exposure to the deaf community and many, many deaf characters and actors on that show. So the story that everyone can relate to, but it also exposed me to something different. And that’s really been a guiding force for me. And it’s gonna sound crazy, like even in a situation like a One Delicious Christmas like, Yes, this is a Christmas romantic comedy, you’ve seen that format done before. But this infusion of food being another character within it and fine dining, mixed with nostalgia of a home cooked meal was like, Okay, this is just a different enough perspective that it feels like something I don’t really have to do.

And that was a great segue to my next question, because you talked about producing, and you stepped into the producers role with 2019 “Saving Zoë” and most recently 2022. Netflix is “The Royal Treatment”? And did you find that difficult to switch to go from acting to producing or was it a very easy transition?

Yeah, it was an easy transition in the sense of like, the industry is the industry, right? And I’ve been doing it for a very long time, you are exposed to different facets of it if you’re willing to expose yourself. And if you’re willing to listen and learn to people, which I always was very, very lucky in the sets that I worked on. I worked with a lot of people who were willing to kind of guide me and teach me and if I had questions, they answered them, which was awesome.

“Saving Zoë” was a lot harder, because that was literally like transitioning from actress/producer within minutes of each other, right, because I’m acting and producing it simultaneously. So you’re like in the scene crying, and then all of a sudden having to get on a phone call with the studio to like solve a problem. So that would be very difficult whereas “The Royal Treatment”, it’s the same situation, both my mother and my sister and myself produced together as a team. My sister was the only one acting and I can just be a producer in that sense.

And that was really rewarding in the sense that I slept better. It was really nice to just have one singular focus in that way. And there’s merits to both there’s like an excitement and adrenaline of being able to switch while you’re doing it. And there is a really sort of respect refreshing focus of when you’re just one purpose of like keeping the production afloat keeping the creative vision in line.

I want to wish you a Happy belated birthday, because I just found out you just joined the 30 and over club. Congratulations.

I did, Thank you. Thank you for having me.

You’re welcome. So what is one thing that you’re looking forward to your 30s?

I mean, coming closer to the limit of the original Sex & the City age is one thing. I’ll tell you what I did was I went to spa resort with my family. And so I feel like that’s how I’m entering this new decade is like just trying to relax. I’m looking forward to being more relaxed.

That’s one of one that’s a great way to start off a brand new decade. Now, when I was researching you, and I was looking up your Instagram, I saw you have delve into some cooking yourself. You shared the recipe of your zucchini flour bread or so I want to know, what do you like to cook? And how long have you been cooking? Do you have a signature dish that you always want to cook?

Well, that’s interesting, right? So I grew up in a household where my father cooking and my mother didn’t, right? It was the opposite of like all my friends but I got really wanted to cook out of necessity because he was the only one of the siblings that left New York. So the way he learned a couple of he would call my grandmother up and she could really explain it to him over the phone. It really makes me feel connected with my father and the way my father loves to cook is something that is joyful to me and something that I have a lot of positive memories.

And those are the zucchini flour bread is something that my grandmother used to make. It’s a recipe that my dad observed my grandmother doing it. She explained them on the phone, and he would make it for me as a kid. And this is the thing about my grandmother could explain things over the phone. My father is terrible at doing that. You have to really like watch him because he’s the type of person who would be like, “Oh, it’s just you know, the zucchini blossoms.”

So I make a lot of things like a pasta sauce that he makes. And then I been dabbling with my own sort of experiments and things too. I love looking up a recipe online and then like trying that out like I found a quinoa taco recipe recently. And I have been trying to find ways to make salads more fun for myself.

What do you hope audiences will take away after watching One Delicious Christmas? And if discovery+ offers you an opportunity, would you jump at the chance?

I would absolutely jump out another chance to discovery+ if you’re listening. I really was so fun. I think doing these films are just delightful. And that’s really what I hope everybody takes away from watching One Delicious Christmas. I hope they are delighted because its intention is for it to be just like a warm hug. And that’s what I love about consuming media during this time of year is that all of its purpose really is to bring joy. That’s what I hope people get from watching this film.

And people you have definitely got to check out One Delicious Christmas, which is currently streaming for a week now on discovery+

About The Author