Sooooo long story short, I have left The Kitchen. Not, of course, the real kitchen. I mean, I may be a little plant-based right now, but I’m still very much Chef Marcela. No, I mean the talk show that I’ve been on for the last four years. The precise details are unnecessary and, in the words of Ms. Sunny Anderson, nunya business, but there are two things that are very important here, in this departure.
The first one is that I need for the things I cook for you to be things that I would cook for myself (and my family) in real life. I admit that this makes life a little hard for me in terms of my TV life. What I have to offer sometimes isn’t easy to make; I ask for organic or very clean ingredients, I rarely cook with processed foods, and I like old-school recipes (the kind that might not work in this 30-minute-meal world). And that’s cool. You gotta do you. I gotta do me. The second (and most important) detail is that I’ve been experiencing absolute misery every time I’ve gotten on a plane and left my children for work. And it’s not all travel that does this… I’ve vacationed with Philip without the kids, and have been perfectly capable of enjoying each day with him to the fullest. I even tagged along on his press trip with Jackie Chan for the release of The Foreigner (he’s executive producer on the film and Jackie’s manager) and I sort of forgot I had kids while I was getting my facial at The Peninsula.
But, honestly, those monthly trips – seeing them on my calendar for the rest of this year and the year after that – were chipping away at my soul. And I love that show. The crew and the cast… we got lucky. I mean, for the most part, it’s a drama-free set and almost everybody there has the exact same goal: to produce a great show… but my time there was done. Zakarian and I often joked that we’d grow old together on that set. I found that thought endearing – something to look forward to – but life is fun because of the curveballs, right?
When I think back on it, I only have one regret: not pushing to say goodbye to you on camera. So, I wanted to say goodbye here. Thank you for tuning in. Thank you for cooking my recipes, for saying hi to me on the street, for remembering my kids’ names, and for following me on social media. Thank you for your loyalty. I’ve loved doing this show, and loved that the incredible diversity of this cast opened us to new audiences. To the Hispanic viewers, I have been so honored to be called a representation of you. I take that role very seriously. You know how proud I am of who I am and where I came from and I connected with so many of you on that level. I’m out here fighting for the American dream and so are you. I consider you my familia. I’m so grateful for that. Closing this chapter is incredibly difficult for me. As much as I have adored my cast and crew, the bigger part of this challenge has been about what it means to me personally to end this cycle. Philip and I have been discussing this for a while; I knew that this would be the window in which we would all move to Los Angeles. Yup, that’s happening. And while there is so much excitement about us FINALLY living in the same zip code, the thought of the massive amount of change that it will bring has given me tremendous anxiety. We’re leaving my family, my sister, my community, this house, and this garden. I’ll be living in the same house with a boy full time after 10 years of being pretty much on my own. I mean, even though we’ve had two perfect kids in the last couple years, we’ve still had separate homes. It’s about to get real. And I’ve felt selfish for the instability that my kids will experience during this move, especially my teen. So inside I’ve been processing all of this and, in the meantime, I’ve needed to go to work, tape those shows, and pretend like it was business as usual. So I did it my way. I thanked everyone in a very long letter because I thought my eyes would explode from the crying if I did it individually. I asked that we just wrap the last show like any other and that they let me just get in the car and go home immediately afterwards… and so that’s what we did. I needed a safe space to just let it all out. Philip flew out for just that reason and was waiting for me at the hotel. I mean I don’t consider myself a superficial person but that very expensive bottle of wine did kinda help. Gracias amor. I also saw Vivi, my old assistant. I hate calling her that; she’s like my best friend now… so I saw Vivi, one of my best friends. Like I said, I needed a safe space. We all talked for hours. Then me and Philip flew back and that was that. And, at the end of the day, my only regret is not thanking you and saying goodbye to you on camera. For that I am truly, truly sorry. I should have fought harder for that. I was drained. I’m sorry.
I’m also sorry that I’m including Adam Rapoport (the EIC of Bon Appetit Magazine) and his tomato sauce recipe in this post about leaving The Kitchen. The thought process was that I’d talk about the ending of one show and segue into the beginning of Best Baker in America and our incredibly cool host Adam, and then I’d talk about his super amazing tomato sauce recipe that I heard him yell into the phone to one of his editors from the set. And, to be clear, he wasn’t mean-yelling… he’s just really loud. I mean, I was two green rooms down from him and I was still able to jot down the recipe! All I can say is that I really hope I get more recipes in this manner in the future. And taping that show in LA with Adam and Jason and judging these phenomenal bakers making nothing but the classics has filled my soul with enough joy to get me super motivated about all that’s coming.
So I’m taking about 5 minutes to process the move. We have homes and schools and childcare to resolve. I’m excited and scared and motivated and exhausted half the time, but just really happy in this moment that I am living in right now. My spiritual guide (who also happens to be my redheaded sister) always tells me that life gets so much easier when you just chill and let it unfold. That you have to accept that things are as they should be… and you are at the verge of Buddha-hood (I made that up and mean no disrespect) when you are able to thank those that seemingly hurt you because, in the end, they are the ones that shaped you the most and the ones that made you show what you were made of. Turns out, I’m made of happy and gratitude at the moment.
So gracias, familia. Stick around; it’s about to get real. And enjoy the pasta… we love it at Casa Marcela!
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes
- Kosher salt
- ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 pound pasta, cooked al dente, reserve pasta water
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Shaved parmesan, for topping
Add olive to pan. Smash garlic and add to pan, cook on medium-low heat until light brown. Add tomatoes and continue to cook. Simmer on medium-low heat until they start to release juice. Smash some tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Add basil. Pasta sauce is done with tomatoes have released their juices and have become a sauce like consistency. Season heavily with salt and pepper.
Add pasta directly straight into the pan. Add a splash of pasta water and butter and stir to melt. Serve with shaved Parmesan on top and enjoy!