Monday, February 10, 2014

Mob Wives: Up Close & Personal with Lana, Renee and Jennifer Graziano

Monmouth, New Jersey Book Signing!

As blog "MobChef," I had the pleasure of chatting with Lana about her collaboration in the cookbook "How To Use a Meat Cleaver." Lana co-wrote the book with her two sisters, Renee and Jennifer. Lana, the elder of this thriving threesome, certainly has shared her passion for cooking in this book. She has owned and operated a few restaurants and she says she worked hands on and did everything herself. Lana's cooking style comes from her Italian roots and claims she is old-school. She is currently looking for a prime location to open a new restaurant with her sisters. Here are a few questions I asked:

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Lana Graziano

Thanks for taking the time out to chat with me. It looks like “How To Use a Meat Cleaver” is getting a great response.  Congratulations.

Tell me, what region of Italy did your family come from, and are the recipes from there?

We came from Sicily, from the region known as Sciacca, pronounced "Shaka."

Who was the most influential person who taught you to cook?

That would be my grandmother Nora. I learned a lot from her at a young age.      

What motivated you to write a cookbook?

I wanted to take my love of cooking and share it with everyone.

I know Jennifer mentioned that you, being the older sister, cooked for her and Renee when they were younger. Did you teach them to cook?

Yes, when I was younger and I babysat my sisters, I would tell them to help with whatever meal I was making. As they got older they would often ask me how do you make this dish or that dish, and it went on from there.

If there’s one recipe everyone should try, which one would it be?

I have so many that I love, but I think the Sunday gravy fulfills everybody from the meatballs to the pasta.   

What did you find most challenging about writing the cookbook?

The most challenging thing was having to figure out how much of everything was needed when it came to ingredients because I do everything by eye and taste.

Who will "whack" that filet mignon?

What recipe is your personal favorite?

My stuffed filet mignon. I think it's because you can get really creative. Other than the breadcrumb mixture you can make it with mozzarella or without, you can add mushrooms or spinach, really it's to your personal liking and it will always be tasty. I promise. 

Tell me about how food has influenced your life.

I center food around my whole life. Everyday I think about what I'm gonna make and who is coming for dinner. I love company and family all getting together. 

As the most private of the Graziano sisters can you tell me something that the fans may not know about you?

I'm a very simple person, I love my family and friends, and really love to cook.

Jennifer mentioned you owned a few restaurants and the lines were out the door; I grew up in a restaurant so I am always curious about other experiences. Tell us about that...

I'm now looking into opening my next restaurant along with my sisters. That's something I would love to do again so my fans can come in, eat, and be merry.          

Is there anything you would like to add that we haven't discussed?

Something I would love to add is:  I'm so very proud of both of my sisters. Renee for her sharing herself with everyone whether it was good or bad because I know she has helped a lot of people out there. I would've to see more of her funny side, that's the side I Iove. I get the biggest kick out of her. And Jenn well I'm amazed at her how she has become this successful business woman and how much she has accomplished. I'm truly speechless. 

Thanks so much!
Carmela

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"Meat" the Graziano sisters!

I got to attend the book signing in New Jersey on Thursday, February 6th, where the girls got one on one with the audience. Clearly they sat in sibling birth order. I say that because Lana was reserved while Renee proved her ownership of  being the middle-child. She brought her huge personality with her and is just as we see her on Mob Wives. Jennifer, who is usually quiet, sat and tried to make her points, but Renee usually ended her sentences. Jennifer says Renee aggravated her as a kid, but she found some ways to get back at her. For example, they treated their food as a test of loyalty. Jennifer hid a meatball for herself and Renee found it. While she attempted to eat it, Jennifer stabbed her. Well Renee says stabbed and Jennifer says "it was only a fork."  Another time, Jennifer got even smarted and took a spoon, heated it over a candle and burned Renee with it. They share such great memories of their childhood that came from sitting at the table eating.  These are the memories that stay with you. I asked Jenn which recipe from the book was hers and she said, the "stuffed artichokes." "Sure," Renee said, "everything is yours." We all had a laugh. Jenn said they are hers, she tweaked the recipe. The girls went on to talk about the inspiration that came from their grandmother, Nora. Learning the basics from their mom, Veronica, and they even talk about their father's cooking. Mom cooked the basics like meatloaf, mashed potatoes and stew, while dad jarred his own caponata and made gravy (yes, I said it) from tomatoes that he boiled. Very old school to say the least.

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Jennifer Graziano

The group asked about the show whether or not it was staged. Jennifer answered by saying that the production talks to the girls, looks for things that will get the audience's attention, they clear the location and then whatever happens happens. Renee talked about her Mob Candy line and said it's doing excellent. They asked if Natalie was still the model for it, and the answer was flat out NO! Someone asked if we would be seeing any of the other Mob Wives again. Jenn said, Ramona, no; Carla & Love, no and Karen, well it's a possibility. I was especially interested in the last part of this comment and hoped that the possibility becomes a reality. Jennifer talked about a new business they are embarking on, The Graziano Macaroni Company, that will feature foods and wine.

The cookbook holds lots of old Italian recipes, some with a modern-day twist. The Graziano family is from Sicily, as is my family, so our styles are very similar. I will try some of these recipes and blog them.  I hope you all got your own copy so you can enjoy their style of cooking from their home to yours.

Congrats to the Graziano sisters. I wish you all continued success.

Written by: Carmela Corleone follow me on Twitter @carmelacorleone

Picture Credit Manny from MTC Photography Twitter Account

1 comment:

Anthony Zancocchio said...

thank you so much for the article I loved it and it was a pleasure to have meet you