FN Dish is counting down to the season 2 premiere of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off by introducing a new celebrity contestant every day. The competition tests the celebrities to see who has the culinary chops to win the title of champion and guarantees a $50,000 donation to the winner’s charity of choice. Watch the premiere on Sunday, January 6, at 9pm/8c and keep coming back to FN Dish for exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes previews.
TV, movie and Broadway actress Kathy Najimy is well-known for her comedic roles, such as Sister Mary Patrick in the movie Sister Act. She can carry an improv act from the stage to the kitchen, making up recipes on the spot. Get to know Kathy better from her Q&A with FN Dish.
The two words that best describe your cooking style are…
Kathy Najimy: Stone-soup improv! I like to go into my kitchen not knowing what we have and frantically put together something out of nothing. My husband, Dan, calls it “stone soup” because I make a big surprise meal out of unplanned ingredients, and I never use a recipe. It’s a lot like a crazy episode of Chopped. Mad fun!
What’s your earliest food memory?
KN: My grandmother in her basement pulling homemade pita bread out of the baking ovens. We are Lebanese so my Mom’s delicious tabbouleh being chopped. Going out to the garden (a small patch in our rusty backyard) to pick fresh mint for the salad EVERY night. And just to throw you off, her famous tamale pie — watching her drench the tortillas in the gorgeous enchilada sauce, lots of black olives in everything. But mostly the fragrant Arabic food smells; as far as I can remember, my mom barely ever left the kitchen.
What’s the best meal you ever ate?
KN: Thanksgiving at my mother’s: her stuffing with blanched almonds, onion, garlic, celery and tons of mushrooms. Everything at her Thanksgiving: hummus, fataya, lube, lebne, fatoush, baba ghanoush — all of it! Not a big fan of turkey when we have all the other luscious Arabic dishes.
Going into Rachael vs. Guy, who did you think was going to be your biggest competition?
KN: Carnie, but Dean had an overly confident swagger.
Favorite pizza topping?
KN: White cheese only, from any corner in my neighborhood in NYC.
Who is your favorite food TV personality, past or present?
KN: Cat Cora! And well, of course, Rachael and Guy. Johnny Weir, the Chopped judges…Meryl Streep as Julia Child.
What food will we never catch you eating?
What’s your signature party dish?
KN: Hummus with pita, olives, crudites, authentic chips and salsa, and guacamole, and Hendrick’s with cucumber and mint
Sweet tooth, salt tooth or both?
KN: Um, ALL three? Okay, two.
What kitchen tool can’t you live without?
KN: Well, there are about ten 15- and 16-year-olds over here about four times a week… so the pizza cutter and our fantastic apple slicer, garlic press and the GREAT GUY FIERI KNIFE I got on the show! Best knife I’ve ever had. I was basically cutting with dinner knives until Guy came along.
What’s the most surprising thing we would find in your fridge?
KN: Medicine, candles, chia and hemp seeds. We don’t have a lot of dairy; my daughter is vegan (never eaten anything alive her entire 15 years!). So, almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk and rice milk. No cow’s milk in our fridge since 1996! She never got one earache!
What music do you like to listen to in the kitchen?
KN: Bacharach, The Dan Band, Kathleen Wilhoite, Samia Finnerty’s original songs, Betty, Alanis, Bette and bad fuzzy AM pop tunes on the radio
Kathy is playing for PETA.