- Special Features
Blogs & Columns
- Fun & Games
Kathy Wakile is one of the two new women to join the cast of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey this season and has quickly won the hearts and appetites of viewers. Easy to relate to and very open about sharing her passion and food on the show, Kathy’s fan base is ever expanding. TheCelebrityCafe.com’s Kim Alsumiri spoke with Kathy recently about her cooking, family, and entertaining guests.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: We've been watching the season, and everyone following the show this season has had their mouth watering watching you cook those dinners and desserts. What got you started in cooking?
Kathy Wakile: My mom was always cooking. She made everything from scratch, and dinners were on the table with all the food groups represented every single night. She found the time with five children, a husband, and a part time – no, a full time – job, and all the other household duties, and I grew up with that. She always had something going on in the kitchen.
I never even knew that I had these skills until I started baking. That was the first thing she would allow me to do growing up. Then, of course, I put that on the shelf for a while because I just had to feed my family, so I would put dinners on the table. Everybody always watches their weight and what have you so I tried to stay away from making desserts. But then I recaptured that again when my kids were growing up, starting with their birthday cakes and the cookies, and having them get involved in the process. It was always something fun to keep them involved.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: What are some of your favorite recipes that you do with your family?
Kathy Wakile: Well as far as desserts go, I like to make chocolate chip cookies, all those things. And I love mixing it up a bit, bringing Italian flavor into our desserts. I like to make them all miniature size, that way you don't feel as guilty, and I like to do a lot with fruit. When the fall is coming around I want something that's pumpkin, or very hearty, or a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg, and then when it's summertime I go for a lighter fare, and Christmas time I like to use a lot of the favorites that I grew up having. My desserts and my tastes and my favorites change as the seasons change.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: What are some must haves for anyone looking to entertain?
Kathy Wakile: What I think is really really important to have is some really interesting glasses and stemware. They don't have to be expensive; they could be very, very inexpensive but just interesting. They don't have to all match. They could go with a theme, have some short glasses, some tall glasses. But if you wanna do color, do all color. Or if you want to keep it very clean, go with a very modern glass. It depends on the type of evening that you're trying to set forth.
I think that another thing to have are service pieces for your cakes and for even your appetizers. I like different heights and really beautiful serving pieces. I think that makes a difference when you put things out there. It doesn't have to be an expensive menu, but when you put things on different levels and display them in different ways it makes the presentation that much more appealing.
And even silk flowers, or if it's seasonal you bring in pumpkins, and display them on the table. You can even use leaves even from your backyard and it's quick. I used to cut branches from the pine trees in my backyard, and gather pine cones and just scatter them around the table settings. You have to remember we eat with our eyes first and then it draws us in. When you put those little touches into an evening I think people really feel that you want them there.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: Now I know when I entertain guests I get stressed out. Do you have any tips on how to make preparing a dinner party and seeing it through a little less stressful?
Kathy Wakile: I think that the most important thing is to try and keep it simple. If you want to make it more extensive, that's fine, but know in your heart that if you're having a good time, you're happy to be doing this, your guests feel it. The same way, if you're stressed out, your guests feel that, too. And if you're really frazzled, and you're not really wanting to do it, if it's like an obligation, then your guests feel that.
I think the biggest key to success is to try and plan things out, write things down, and check things off as you get them done. And if you can set your table a day or two ahead of time, that helps with the stress. As for the kind of flatware you're going to be using, or silverware you're going to be using, you can plan that out ahead of time.
But the most important thing is embrace it. You're opening up your home. You know what? Don't wait for the perfect time. Just do it, just invite people over, put a smile on your face, and don't be afraid to - if someone says can I help you with something, you know take their help.
Definitely do a signature cocktail. That way you're not stressed on how are we going to mix this, or do we need a bartender. You're serving food and you're mixing drinks, it's a little too much sometimes. I always like to kick it up a little bit. If I'm making margaritas I'll put a little twist on it. I'll put like a little - sometimes they're too sweet for some people - so I'll have Liquid Lightning on the side, the sugar free Liquid Lightning. It gives it a little bit of a kick, and at the same time it lightens up the flavor. It makes it crisper and fresher. Or have Herbal Mist Tea, and to do that with something else, like your favorite vodka, or even a champagne cocktail. Play around with things. Things that are unusual get your guests feeling, 'Wow, they really put a lot of effort into this and I have to make that at home.'
TheCelebrityCafe.com: Now, on the other side, if you're a guest at someone's dinner party, do you feel it only polite to bring a little something as a gift to them?
Kathy Wakile: My mother always taught us you don't go to someone's house empty handed, especially for the first time. And you know everyone's working and it's very, very hard to make something up from home, so if you have the inclination to do that, that really is something sweet. You could put together a few things that you know the hostess likes. Or, if it's a theme night, you can make a little basket up of little things that you did purchase.
And they don't have to be expensive items, just something that the hostess really relates to and that you think they'll like. Like little tiny things like even napkin rings along with maybe little tags for cocktail glasses. Things like that that a hostess will really respond to.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: How's that catering business that you want to start?
Kathy Wakile: Well, we are having to hold on catering for now. We are still looking at different options. Right now I've gotten such a feedback for my desserts. I've been doing that my whole life, really since I could read recipes, and I never thought that much of it.
And I like to do things in small portions, because I hate the way a cake looks when it's cut. I find there's nothing more appealing than a dessert that's first done. And when somebody cuts into that big cake, and it leaves it messy, it's not the same.
And everyone's weight conscious, but we don't want to sacrifice taste or indulgence or quality. So instead, I put them in smaller portions. That way you can get that sweet finish, feel like you've indulged, but now, 'Okay, I walked away.'
So I'm really working on getting a line out of desserts that people respond to. It may be a retail store. I'm still toying around with that whole dessert thing, and I just want to see what's going to work best for me, and my family first and foremost.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: Do you have any plans to do a cookbook? I know so many of the viewers on the show have commented that they would love to see a cookbook.
Kathy Wakile: Everyone thinks that my reason for getting on the show was having my own cookbook. My reason for getting on the show was just to have some fun. I'm at that point in my life to start looking for something else. The kids are getting older, and they don't need me as much, and if I'm home they'll still look for me to do everything for them.
I still have so much more to do. I'm not done yet, and I don't want to shop all day, or go play tennis. I want to do something that I feel has self-worth.
A cookbook was never going to be out of the question, but right now I need to feel really confident in all of my dessert recipes. I mean I have so many different ideas, and I would want to put something out there that people really respond to. So I have to, you know, go through trial and error. I want to make sure that whatever I put in print is something that I stand behind, and that I worked it, and I perfected it, and people really respond to it. I don't want to just take someone else's recipes and sign my name to them. So I'm working on testing out all of my recipes, seeing how they'll hold up. And I would love to put a cookbook out one day, but first I want to make sure that it's something I'm really behind.
Catch more of Kathy Wakile, her family, and her food on Bravo TV's "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" every Sunday night.