Speaking with Valerie E. Vasquez is a happy experience. She laughs often and offers a lot of witty banter. But why shouldn’t she be happy? She loves her husband, comedian Andrew Dice Clay, to pieces and they have advanced to the final throws of competition in the Fox series My Kitchen Rules. The finale airs on Thursday, March 2.
Vasquez was raised in Los Angeles to an Italian/Jewish mom and a Mexican-American dad, so she brings a lot of cultural influence into her cooking. She was working with a clothing line as well being a celebrity hair stylist and makeup artist when she met and fell in love with Dice Clay.
She discovered that she would be on My Kitchen Rules when her husband told her he got them a gig in a very playful manner and then a day later told her that it was a cooking competition show. Vasquez eventually found her confidence to join in the fun.
My Kitchen Rules is a reality show that forces celebrity teams of two against others under the backdrop of a dinner party. The other teams include: TV host and *NSYNC member Lance Bass and his mom, Diane Bass; Grammy Award winner Brandy and her brother, R&B recording artist Ray J; reality TV star Brandi Glanville and her friend, Dean Sheremet and country superstar Naomi Judd and her husband, Larry Strickland. They are judged by each other as well as official professional celebrity chefs, Curtis Stone (“Top Chef Masters”) and Cat Cora (“Iron Chef America”).
Valerie E. Vasquez spoke with TheCelebrityCafe.com about how she met her husband (Teaser: it was at the Playboy mansion), her clothing and makeup lines, what Andrew’s favorite dish is, her advice for couples who must share a kitchen together, as well as dishing on the competition and offering tips on how to throw a successful dinner party.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Valerie E. Vasquez: Okay. Where do I start? My dad is Mexican-American. My mom's Italian and she's also, technically, Jewish because my grandma was German-Russian Jewish. So I'm a little bit of a mix. Andrew always loved that part, too. Because he's Jewish [laughter]. Not that it mattered. His wife before me was Irish-Catholic. He loves everyone [laughter]. So yeah, I was born and raised in L.A., which, I guess, meeting people in the industry— growing up, that's all I really knew was people born and raised in L.A. And if you met someone that came from like San Diego that was a big deal [laughter]. Or like West Covina. But yeah, it really wasn't until I met Andrew that I really— like everyone was like, "Oh my God. Wait, what? You were born and raised in L.A.?" And I'm like, "Yeah, why?" In the industry, really, everyone comes from everywhere. And so that was fun. I loved his accent right away because that was like listening to a unicorn talk on that side of town. So yeah, I've always been into beauty and hair and fashion and that's pretty much what I did before I met him.
TCC: So how did you meet him?
VV: So I had a clothing line. I have to give the little preview of why I was where I was.
TCC: Oh, please [laughter].
VV: No, no, you'll know why. Because people are always like, "Why were you there?" So I had a clothing line with my best friend who I'm still best friends with and we would do parties. We would do fashion shows. We just started this in my dad's garage when I was 20 and she was 20 and we started a clothing line. We walked into boutiques. We'd be like, "Hey. Do you want to carry our tie-dyed cut-up t-shirts?" and they were like, "Yeah, this is cool." So somehow through a model we worked with, she introduced us to a promoter who threw parties at the Playboy Mansion and he had us make a custom outfit for the host and then from there is where I met Brandy Roderick, an ex-Playmate who was also on the Celebrity Apprentice with Dice and we—
TCC: And she's on the show with you, is that right?
VV: No, that's Brandy Glanville. Brandy Roderick was on Celebrity Apprentice and she was a Playboy Playmate. Really great girl, really great woman. She was like, "Who made these outfits?" Because we did it for choreographed dancers and so she just loved us and then she hired us to do parties with her and so that's how we actually met. At the Playboy Mansion [laughter]. And I always tell everyone it's really easy to stand out at the Playboy Mansion when you're wearing pants and a shirt [laughter].
TCC: That would make it a little bit abnormal.
VV: Yeah, yeah. So I was wearing pants and a shirt and I think that really— he wanted to meet me and then the rest is history. We were actually married one year later.
TCC: Oh, wow. Short courtship.
VV: I know. Yeah, yeah [laughter]. It's crazy.
TCC: Well, I've heard from my— I have a lot of friends who've actually met your husband and everyone says he's a heck of a nice guy.
VV: Aw, thank you! He really is. He treats me like a queen. He's definitely nutty, but so am I. I just hide it better [laughter].
TCC: How did you first get into cooking?
VV: I first got into cooking when I was a little girl. I think it's really my love of food. I love to eat. I love food and I love to feed people. It's just always been my thing. And actually, what's funny is my dad was the one who cooked more. My Mom did it only because she had to. She's like, "Oh, I hate it." And she's still like that. It's funny. And my dad always loved it and so he was the one who actually taught me more how to cook. And I probably started helping him in the kitchen before I was even 10 because I just really wanted to learn and help him and do things and cut, all that kind of stuff. So it just started at a young age and when my friend would come over for the weekend I would have sandwich making parties and they would just— at 11 making— I was like, "It's a sandwich. How do you not make your own sandwich at home?" But at the time, I didn't really make scotch eggs or anything. That wasn't until I got older, but even just making, grilling sausage at 13 and then adding the cans of pasta sauce and boiling the noodles. My friends were always so amazed at that. I'm like, "You guys are nuts." I always loved doing it [laughter].
TCC: Do you have a signature dish?
VV: I feel like my signature dish is one featured on My Kitchen Rules. I did pasta and meatballs. I love doing Italian. I love making a big pot of sauce and I'll also do sausage and peppers on the side and then meatballs I feel like it's just easy and very filling and there's a lot to be made. So I do love doing that.
TCC: What is Andrew's favorite food?
VV: Probably Italian food [laughter]. Yeah, and literally, just very basic— that's probably why I make that a lot, meatballs, pasta, or steak and potato with nothing on it.
TCC: Nothing on it [laughter]?
VV: Nothing on it. I've never met a human in my life who could eat a potato. He'll put a little garlic salt.
TCC: Well, that's better than no salt but still.
VV: Yeah, yeah, yeah, or regular salt, even just regular salt. Yeah, it's crazy.
TCC: But without butter it's a little sad.
VV: I know. I won't even look at a baked potato if there's no butter around. It's not worth it. I like my butter with baked potato [laughter].
TCC: Exactly! Do you throw many dinner parties?
VV: You know I actually do. I love to entertain. What's so funny is we never did a fancy dinner party where I would plate and so I was more of a buffet style dinner party type person. So it wasn't really a sit down. It was kind of more— there'd be music and everybody would be hanging out. My kitchen island had tons of food on it and there was stacks of plates. Everybody grab your plate. Eat all night if you want. Get it whenever you want. And then I'd have another table of desserts. So I never really did like that. It was kind of intimidating to do that. I was like, "What? I don't plate stuff!" So it was fun and different.
TCC: Those are the kind of dinner parties that I like to do best— I throw a lot of dinner parties as well and those are the kind I do too. It's easier and it's a little more fun.
VV: Yeah [laughter]. Yes, yes. you don't know how much somebody wants to eat what you have— but it was a little bit of a challenge because we were competing and we were being judged and that was scary in itself, I've always been more of a behind-the-scenes person, so when this came to us, what's funny is— I don't even know if I've told— yeah, my friends and family know this. He was like, "I got us a gig," and I thought he meant a makeup gig because that's what I do and then he goes, "I got you a gig" and I was like, "Oh my God, really?" because I was trying to get into the union. And he's like, "Yeah." He's like, "It's going to be really great. We're both going to be on it" and I was like, "Wait. What are you talking about [laughter]. It's not a makeup gig?"
And he goes, "It's a cooking show" and I was like, "Hold on. What are you talking about?" I was like, "I can't be on TV!" and he goes, "You're going to be cooking" and I was like what? On TV?" and he goes, "It's all you do every day. You'll be fine." I was like, "Oh my God." So then I just immediately thought, "Okay. Maybe it's some type of show where they come to your home and they're like, 'Hey, show us your favorite recipe.'" So I thought, "Oh, okay, so it might be one little episode—" I just was like, "I'm going to sleep." I didn't even ask questions. It wasn't until the next day he goes, "So it's a competition show" and I was like, "I don't think I can do this, I can't," but somehow it happened.
TCC: Tell us a little bit about this show specifically. What's it like?
VV: It's basically five celebrity couples or duos. There's mother and son, Lance and his mom. There's husband and wife, there's friends, brother and sister. So all of us are basically throwing dinner parties and then for the rest of us, along with Kat, Cora and Curtis Stone, who are amazing chefs and who I knew who they were before going on, which was scary knowing that they're going to eat food we make. And then we all judge the dinner party after and score and we're basically all competing to have the title of My Kitchen Rules.
TCC: I'm sure you're not allowed to say who won yet, but it looks like you guys are doing well so far [laughter].
VV: No, I mean, we're still in there barely, I mean, my gosh. It wasn't until I started seeing the episodes. I was like, "Hmm, some people were judging in a sabotage type of way [laughter]." And I didn't do that.
TCC: Well, I saw the first episode and it seems odd that all the contestants made meals they've never made before.
VV: Yeah. Yeah. I was surprised about that too. I—
TCC: Do you have a favorite co-contestant?
VV: You know what? I got along with everybody. I really did. I mean, it was really great. And it's funny because some of my friends, after they saw us cook, they were like, "Naomi was so mean. We don't like what she judged you on, but—" and I was like, "You know what? I still love her." I was like, "She was adorable. I was a fan before— I couldn't even believe I was sitting at a dinner table with her. I don't care what she scored me. I still love her [laughter]." I was like, "I don't even care." I love them all. It was really amazing.
TCC: I want to go back to dinner party question for a second. Do you have any tips for our readers on what to do to throw a successful dinner party?
VV: Yes, I actually do now [laughter]. Make sure you are on time do not start late,and make sure you have the help that you need because that could throw you behind. The worst thing is having hungry dinner guests at your house because everyone's going to start talking about that. So that's what happened to me and it's actually happened to me in the past, where I've bit off more than I could chew as far as throwing something at my house and that's just the worst feeling when you invited people over to eat and your food's not ready when they get there or shortly after. So be on time.
TCC: Okay, that's good advice [laughter]. How is My Kitchen Rules different than some of the other cooking competition shows out there?
VV: It's funny because I was a huge Cupcake Wars and Halloween Wars fan and so it's different because it's celebrities competing against each other. What's funny is not all of them are really known for cooking, so that's just fun to watch, as to where other cooking competitions shows, you know that most of— I think except for Worst Cooks in America [laughter]. Aside from that, you know that the people on there have cooking experience for the most part. So it's pretty funny to see the one and you could just— I mean Guy's had a handful of dishes that he's made in his life and that's about it. I was the one who was the cook. And that was my partner [laughter]. I love him to pieces but he's not the greatest cooking partner [laughter].
TCC: What is your advice then for people who have to share a kitchen with their spouse?
TCC: Good answer.
VV: You know what and if you're going to, only let them do what they can.
TCC: And have alcohol available. Lots of it.
VV: Yes. Yeah. Yeah, really.
TCC: So how do you like your fans to connect with you?
VV: You know what, I actually love Instagram and Twitter. And actually I just started a Facebook fan page and it's all the same name. It's called ItsValVasquez.
TCC: Well good luck with you and your show, your marriage, your life, everything like that. I hope your makeup show will do so well.
VV: Thank you so much.
Catch Valerie E. Vasquez on My Kitchen Rules Thursdays on Fox and let us know what's your go-to dish to make for a dinner party?