Laura Vitale, celebrity chef dishes on life, work and National Pizza Month

Laura Vitale

Laura Vitale is not only busy celebrity chef with her popular cooking show on her YouTube channel Laura In the Kitchen, but she is also a busy mom who is chasing after an adorable toddler, so it makes sense that this cooking and entertaining pro has some great tips on how to make a great meal without spending too much time in the kitchen.

Since October is National Pizza Month, we have another reason to celebrate with Laura.

Laura Vitale is an expert on Italian cuisine as she was born in Naples.  She moved to New Jersey when she was 12 years old. Cooking is more than a passion, it is a way of life for her.

Her hit video series Laura in the Kitchen landed her on the Cooking Channel, where repeats of Simply Laura can still be seen.

Laura spoke with Michelle Tompkins for Stars and Celebs, the new home of The Celebrity Cafe about her newest role as a mom, what is going on with her cooking show, how she likes to save time in the kitchen, how she celebrates National Pizza Month, what are some of her favorite pizzas, which sides she recommends and so much more.

Michelle Tompkins:  Hi Laura, it's nice to speak with you again. What's new with you these days?

Laura Vitale:  Well, trying to survive motherhood. That's the number one. She's at an age now where's she's into everything. So keeping her occupied and happy is a full-time job in itself.

Michelle Tompkins:  How old is she?

Laura Vitale:  Yeah, she's a year and a half. So we're ramping holiday recipe development, all of that fun stuff. And celebrating national pizza month this month, which is kind of awesome.

Michelle Tompkins:  It does sound awesome. Now, remind people where they can see you. You have a YouTube show.

Laura Vitale:  Yes, they can see me on my YouTube channel at Laura in the Kitchen. Or if you just Google Laura Vitale, everything kind of comes up. I'm very frequent over at Food Network and Cooking Channel with reruns of my show Simply Laura and I do a lot of guest appearances for them as well on various shows. You'll find me on the Today Show often and pretty much all over the place.

Michelle Tompkins:  Have you visited Italy lately?

Laura Vitale:  Yes, I have. I was there in April and I was also there about a month ago. I just came back the second week of September so we were there for two weeks.

Michelle Tompkins:  I love that you go there so often.

Laura Vitale:  Yes. Well, that's the foundation. That is home. So anytime I can get there or just to really reconnect with not only my friends and my family, but with myself, then I take the opportunity.

Michelle Tompkins:  Now, what are some dishes that you have been making that have been making you smile lately?

Laura Vitale:  Well, anything that's kind of quick and easy and uses just one pan has been making me very happy lately because I'm really busy with work, my husband's really busy with work, the baby is so active. So at the end of a long day, I'm just looking for recipes that, like I said, they're just quick and easy.

I made a really delicious Italian chicken ragu that was just so good and so fantastic about a week or so ago that took no time at all and it was kind of using things that I already have on hand. So those recipes always make me smile.

Then right now, any kind of baked good is making me smile because it's in that time of year where it's so comforting and your house smells so nice and sweet and perfumy from pumpkin spice and apples. It just brings a small to your face. So that's what's making us really happy these days is a lot of baking.

Michelle Tompkins:  That really sounds good. I want to go try some right now of yours.

Laura Vitale:  Oh, I wish I could transport some to you [laughter].

Laura Vitale talks about National Pizza Month

Michelle Tompkins:  Now, tell me about National Pizza Month. Do you have any details about it?

Laura Vitale:  Well, National Pizza Month, what a month to be alive, am I right? I love national pizza month and I was thrilled, really thrilled, to be able to partner and work with Dr. Oetker Virtuoso Pizza and to really highlight their delicious pizzas that are made from such good hand-selected ingredients that you can feel good about eating.

If you're anything like me, where you do need a little help from the store once in a while to pull something together to eat. And if you're a pizza fan then these should be in your freezer. I've been actually eating their pizza for a long time and then when this partnership came along and I learned a little bit more about the company and the brand itself, it was just a no-brainer. It was a match made in food heaven just because they pay so much attention to the quality of their ingredients and the way that their pizzas are crafted.

That's important to me. Because if I'm eating something out of convenience, I still want it to be fantastic. It's a pizza you can feel good about eating. And it makes for last minute, spontaneous gatherings a breeze. Because you can pop a couple of them in the oven or even on the outdoor pizza grill, you're outdoor grill or your pizza oven, and it's just fantastic every time.

Michelle Tompkins:  That sounds like a good tip for party planning.

Laura Vitale:  Right? So, my absolute favorite topping on any pizza is pepperoni, it always has been and I think it always will be. It's just I like the saltiness, I like that it gets kind of crispy around the edge, the pepperoni gets kind of crispy around the edge when you bake it. That's my absolute favorite pizza topping, but I also love a veggie-loaded pizza. If you put broccoli, kale, whatever on the pizza, I'm going to like it. Bacon never hurts anybody. My favorite is the pepperoni pesto, or a really heavily cheesy pizza is like you know what I mean?

Michelle Tompkins:  Please tell me of the doctor, whose name I cannot pronounce, I'm sorry, did he invent this?

Laura Vitale:  So Dr. Oetker's Virtuoso Pizza was established in 1891 in Germany, Dr. Oetker is from Germany. He carried out the belief that he wanted to make a great pizza with quality ingredients. From that point forward, they have been in the market making quality frozen pizzas accessible.

They specialize on really good pizzas with really fresh, hand-selected ingredients that you can feel good about eating. There's something there for everybody, but what you can feel good about is that the quality is top notch. And to me, that's really important.

Michelle Tompkins:  Sounds good. 

Laura Vitale:  Right? So, my absolute favorite topping on any pizza is pepperoni, it always has been and I think it always will be. It's just I like the saltiness, I like that it gets kind of crispy around the edge, the pepperoni gets kind of crispy around the edge when you bake it. That's my absolute favorite pizza topping, but I also love a veggie-loaded pizza. If you put broccoli, kale, whatever on the pizza, I'm going to like it. Bacon never hurts anybody. My favorite is the pepperoni pesto, or a really heavily cheesy pizza is like you know what I mean?

Michelle Tompkins: That sounds great.  What are some favorite side dishes that pair nicely with pizza?

Laura Vitale:  I think a nice green salad of some sort is good because a nicer pairing of something indulgent like a pizza with something a little fresh and vibrant. So a good mixed green salad. I mean, think about it. Arugula tossed in a little bit of olive oil, lemon juice, a little bit of sea salt, and then shavings of Parmesan, that is heaven. It's good on its own, but next to pizza with a good glass of wine, it's fantastic. Right now I'm really loving a mixture of mixed greens with apples and walnuts and cranberries and a poppyseed dressing. That's really good. I like any salad with my pizza. I think that's really good.

But if you want to do something a little bit easier, go get a package of prosciutto, wrap it around some roasted pears or some fresh figs, or just make a little antipasto board. It is phenomenal. Just keep things easy on yourself.

If, for example, you want to do a take on grilled cheese and a soup, do a light broccoli and cheesy soup with your pizza, because their pizzas are really thin crust so they're not real heavy. You feel like you're getting that experience of the cheesy, yummy, crispy grilled cheese and a bowl of soup, but it's sort of like a bit of a fresher, more modern take on that combo, by doing the pizza and the soup. Anything that I can pull together really quickly, I'm happy with.

Michelle Tompkins:  Sounds really good. And you're making me hungry for salad which is tough to do.

Laura Vitale:  I'm making myself hungry.

Michelle Tompkins:  So here's a fun one. Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget that you love to use and play with?

Laura Vitale:  I think one of my favorite and most, most underutilized, I think, kitchen gadget, is an ice cream scoop of various sizes because an ice cream scoop is not just for ice cream. It is for making the most perfect, uniform-shaped cookies, muffins, biscuits, dumplings, anything that you want to form into a muffin pan, a cookie sheet, use an ice cream scoop instead of using two spoons or whatever other device you use. Because when you use an ice cream scoop, which you can buy in a lot of different sizes— I even use it to make meatballs. I use my ice cream scoop - the one tablespoon size - to make my meatballs because they are all even. They're all the same size. Therefore they cook easily. So get yourself an ice cream scoop of a few different sizes, and I'm telling you, it will change the way that you cook because it's the best thing ever to make pancakes, for example. I just scoop up with my large ice cream scoop, which is about a quarter cup. I make pancakes using one and they all cook at the same time.

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Michelle Tompkins:  That sounds like a very good tip. So get ice scream scoops in multiple sizes, and you'll have uniform results and nothing needs to be measured out or balled up individually.

Laura Vitale:  Perfect every time.

Michelle Tompkins:  Now how do you like your fans to connect with you?

Laura Vitale:  If you just go to Instagram and find me. If you type in my name, my Instagram will pop up. You can go on Twitter. You can go on Facebook. You can go to whatever social media outlet you'd like to use. Come over. Say hi. Let's chat. It's the best way to connect. I have a lot of fun on Instagram chatting with people, and Twitter, chatting with people. That's where most of the conversations happen. So hop on over. Let's have a chat. Let's talk pizza. Let's talk ice cream scoops. Let's just have a good old time.

Michelle Tompkins:  Very nice. Well, what's next for you, Laura?

Laura Vitale:  Next for me, like I said, is to really dive deep into holiday cooking. We're in the middle of recipe development for Thanksgiving, and lots of good, homey, hearty cooking going to happen. That's what's going to take up pretty much all of my time for the next three months.

Michelle Tompkins:  Now is there anything else you'd like to add?

Laura Vitale:  I want people to have pizza, have it ready, and have last-minute gatherings with your friends and family because guess what? Life is made of those little tiny moments, those little spontaneous moments of where people drop by and you have such a fun, casual time, get-together, laid back. That's where life happens. I want people to think a little bit less about making the perfect five-course meal to entertain their friends, and think a little bit more about simplifying things so that you can spend that time hanging out with those that really matter. That's what I want people to take away from today.

 

Laura Vitale can be found here and get your pizza here. She recently offered some very good general entertaining tips. Click next to check them out!

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Michelle Tompkins

Michelle Tompkins is an award-winning media, PR and crisis communications professional with more than ten years experience with coverage in virtually every traditional and new media outlet. She is currently a communications and media strategist and writer, as well as the author of College Prowler: Guidebook for Columbia University. She served as the Media Relations Manager for the Girl Scouts of the USA where she managed all media and talking points, created social media strategy, trained executives and donors and served as the organization’s primary spokesperson, participating in daily interviews with local, regional, and national media outlets. She managed the media for the Let Me Know internet safety and Cyberbullying prevention campaign with Microsoft, as well as Girl Scouts’ centennial Year of the Girl To Get Her There celebration in 2012, which yielded more than 800 million earned media impressions. In addition to her extensive media experience, Michelle worked as a talent agent in Los Angeles, California, as well contracting as a digital content developer and her writing has appeared in newspapers and online. She is passionate about television, theater, classic movies, all things food and in-home entertaining. While she has lived and worked in NYC for more than a decade, she is from suburban Sacramento and gets back there often to watch the San Francisco Giants on TV with her family.

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