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Food Network’s Jeff Mauro reveals what he missed most last year

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If you’re a Food Network viewer of any regularity, you’ve seen Jeff Mauro demonstrate his skills and humor in the kitchen and on “The Kitchen,” the cooking-themed talk show, now in its 28th season, co-hosted by Mauro with Sunny Anderson, Katie Lee, Geoffrey Zakarian and Alex Guarnaschelli. Winner of the seventh season of the competition series “Food Network Star,” Mauro got there with an eggplant parmesan sandwich, which led to three seasons of his own show, “Sandwich King.”

The Chicago-born Mauro, 42, is one of the most relatable of all Food Network personalities thanks to his keep-it-real personality and sense of humor, which occasionally extends to the self-deprecating variety. His new book, “Come on Over: 111 Fantastic Recipes for the Family that Cooks, Eats and Laughs Together” (Harper Collins) has a lot of that personality spread across each page. It’s an unconventional cookbook in that each recipe is accompanied by a story – some funny, some simply meaningful – that ties into the dish at hand. The recipes and anecdotes are complimented by some truly impressive photography and easy to follow step by step directions.

Mauro was just as relatable during the following interview that aired on BIG 104 FM, when he explains how relieved he is to once again host large family gatherings after more than a year. He cites his favorite dish from his book that he loves to make for his family and reveals one area of cooking where he does not consider himself an expert.

Mauro began the interview by saying he’s never been to Maine but “I’ve always wanted to go there and eat my weight in shellfish.”

The Maine Edge: I like the fact that every recipe in your book seems possible to me. In other words, as long as I follow your lead, I probably won’t screw it up.

Jeff Mauro: (laughs) I’m glad to hear you say that. One of my goals was to deconstruct and reverse engineer some of my favorite dishes that I order out to make them accessible to the home cook. A lot of the photos show you each step so it’s very easy to follow along.

The Maine Edge: I’m a horrible cook but you don’t need a culinary degree to successfully pull off these dishes. You’ve incorporated recipes for every skill level.

Jeff Mauro: I didn’t want to make people feel like they had to study before cooking. I’m that guy, the impatient recipe cooker. I always want to start right away so the first thing I read, I’m going to start doing while I read the rest. You can do that with this book. I spent as much time on the stories as I did the recipes. I kind of envision families sitting down and literally reading the book and gaining laughter and enjoyment out of it.

The Maine Edge: Could you cite one dish from your book that you love to make for your family?

Jeff Mauro: I love to make Detroit-style pizza for my family. I perfected the crust, which is so important. It’s so important to get that crispy caramelized cheese-crust around the edge, how to top it and when to top it with the pepperoni. When it’s pizza night at my house, I’m making two of these and I’m going to eat myself silly. It’s easy, it’s delicious and it feeds a bunch.

The Maine Edge: Is there an area of cooking where you don’t consider yourself an expert?

Jeff Mauro: I’m not well-versed in Indian food at all. I wasn’t a big fan of it for many years but then I traveled to Africa and fell in love with a lot of the curries there and that got me to dive deeper into Indian cuisine.

The Maine Edge: When we were forced to live life very differently in 2020, what did you miss most?

Jeff Mauro: Hosting Christmas, that was my thing. I love having my family and my wife’s family at our home for Christmas, up to 35 people. We don’t have a mansion, but we could squeeze them all in and I kept perfecting it every year. The Christmas before last was probably my best culinary moment. It was the best hosting job I’ve ever done, and that’s with switching the menu every year. I can’t wait to have them all come back for Christmas.

Last modified on Wednesday, 28 July 2021 08:02

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