It's no secret — we love Marcela Valladolid. From her Safeway line of meats and Mexican food staples to her appearance as a cohost on Food Network's The Kitchen, everything Marcela makes is (or looks) muy delicioso. The busy mom and food star answered some of our most eager-to-answer questions, like how she feels about Tex-Mex, whom she looks up to, and her most hilarious on-camera moment.
PS: Who's your favorite cohost on The Kitchen?
MV: I can't do that; it's like choosing a favorite kid. I've learned so much from all of them. Sunny is the most professional and the most amazing on-camera talent. I'd kill to have 1/10 of Jeff's wit and sense of humor. With Katie, it's so absolutely refreshing to see such a gorgeous and successful woman be so down-to-earth and kindhearted. And then there's GZ [Geoffrey Zakarian], who I know will be a friend and confidant for the rest of my life on top of being one of the most amazing cooks I've ever seen in action.
PS: Who has been your favorite guest?
MV: Hands down Martha Stewart. I was a contestant on the Martha Stewart version of The Apprentice, and I learned so much from her. I've been a fan and follower of hers my whole life. She truly has inspired my career, and now, more than ever, I'm hopeful that we'll get an opportunity to work together! She is a pioneer, and in an industry of fakes, she's the real deal.
PS: You're working in front of a live audience, and anything can go wrong. Can you share a funny on-camera moment?
MV: There are times that I just can't stop laughing with these guys. So many segments we need to redo, because it just gets hysterical on set. I had to put a globby green-tea face mask on GZ and Jeff once, and my hands were shaking because I was laughing so hard.
PS: We love your grilled meats, but what other new products will you launch at Safeway, and when can we expect to see them?
MV: There will be more new products launching before the end of the year (think fresh salsas, refrigerated soups, rice and beans, and more!).
PS: What ingredients are essential to stock for cooking Mexican cuisine?
MV: For me it is tortillas, tomatoes, onion, garlic, chile, cilantro, any kind of melting cheese (preferably Oaxaca), and a killer salsa.
PS: What is the easiest homemade salsa recipe?
MV: Simple. Throw tomatoes, garlic, onion, and jalapeños in the oven. Roast for about 35 minutes at 350°F. Process until smooth in a blender, and season with salt. Finish it off with a little chopped fresh cilantro, and there you go.
PS: What is your go-to cocktail?
MV: I love tequila, but I don't usually drink it. When I do, I drink reposado in a snifter with an orange wedge. Love!
PS: When it comes to junk food, what are your guilty pleasures?
MV: Cheeseburgers. Preferably from In-N-Out. I just had one today. Oreo cookies, I'm obsessed with, and all of the salty snacks (salsa verde tortilla chips, chile lime flaquitos, ancho chipotle chicharrones, adobada potato chips) from my line of Mexican food at Safeway.
PS: What would be the tailgating party of your dreams?
MV: Outside of a soccer game at a stadium. We love soccer. I imagine it with spicy chips, burritos, tacos, and micheladas.
PS: How do you feel about Tex-Mex foods, like chile con queso?
MV: Honestly, I used to hate it, but now I'm actually grateful for it. In the beginning, I found it almost offensive that people thought that that was Mexican food, but the fact is it's just a different kind of cuisine. Also, thanks to that cuisine, the general US population is already in love with all many of the ingredients I use in my cooking. Honestly, my food and cooking philosophy has changed. To each his own, and if it tastes good, then it's good.
PS: What else are you working on?
MV: Many things are in the pipeline. I need to set aside some time for book three, and I'm also looking to create of line of cooking equipment for Mexican cooking, specifically.
PS: What inspires you when you are writing your recipes?
MV: My family. I come from a family of chefs. My grandfather was a chef, and my aunt is a chef (and my biggest inspiration). Most of my recipes are passed down or are developed from my memories growing up in Tijuana. But also the California lifestyle. There's more ease and health in the Cali way of cooking, and I've very much incorporated that into every aspect of my life.