Don't you just want to pinch his cheek? Grandparents adore sweetheart satirist Mo Rocca and he adores them — so much so that he roams the country with his Cooking Channel series, My Grandmother's Ravioli, to revel in their AARP-tastic wisdom and uncover their culinary secrets. And he never leaves without the recipes!
TV Guide Magazine: The seniors on your show are remarkable, and remarkably real. What's the secret to keeping them that way on camera?
Mo Rocca: It's deflating to admit this, but people who don't desperately want to be on TV are actually much better on TV than we who make a living at it. These marvelous grandparents are not trying to make a splash and get their own reality show. They lead full, rich lives. They speak their minds and don't care what other people think. They're all so incredible! I'd be extremely proud if this becomes the show that makes you want to get old.
TV Guide Magazine: They also seem wonderfully unphased by nouvelle cuisine.
Rocca: We're talking Thai immigrants, Holocaust survivors, American Indians, Pennsylvania Dutch — you'll never see anything trendy on their dinner tables! No tall food, God forbid. No foam, which always reminds me of flotsam and jetsam, even though they use it in all the hip restaurants nowadays. The closest we get to anything nouvelle this season is with Suzanne, a wonderful hippie grandmother, who took me out foraging for nettles to make a nettle frittata. Weird...but delicious.
TV Guide Magazine: So this job is total bliss? No challenges at all?
Rocca: Here's the only hard part: Getting their recipes down on paper so we can share them on our website. None of these people measure! With them it's always, "I use a little bit of this and a little bit of that." And so many of them have never made these recipes with anyone else in the family. Most of the grandparents on our show are volunteered by their kids or grandkids, who want a family document and a memory they can treasure for decades to come. We're capturing personal history here.
TV Guide Magazine: You've been a judge on Iron Chef America. How would these grandparents fare in a kick-ass competition like that?
Rocca: Most would be right up there in terms of flavor and presentation, but they would demolish the competition when it comes to personality. These are the folks who built America — strong, decent, sturdy stock. They invite you into their homes and you never want to leave.
My Grandmother's Ravioli airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on Cooking Channel.