Bertinelli ready for a picnic on ‘Valerie’s Home Cooking’

'Valerie's Home Cooking' - Life becomes a picnic

Valerie Bertinelli

In the age of the pandemic, getting outdoors is a welcome escape from day-to-day isolation. And these days, it also seems kind of exotic.

Valerie Bertinelli is feeling it, too, which is why in the new season of her Food Network series “Valerie’s Home Cooking,” she’s ready to have a picnic. So in the episode airing Sunday, May 16, the cookbook author and former “Hot in Cleveland” and “One Day at a Time” actress prepares a portable meal for husband-and-wife Southern California first responders.

“That comes from one of my best girlfriends, Jo Stougaard, who happens to be a travel and food writer,” Bertinelli explains. “And her nephew Chase happens to be a firefighter and his wife is a nurse. So I thought, ‘Well, I want to pay it forward to them. And I know Jo, she can bring them the food.’ And it was a lot of fun to put together some really great travel food, if anybody wants to have their own picnic, especially since we can go outside now without masks. You can go to a park and have a picnic.”

As for what always goes into her picnic basket, Bertinelli starts with the obvious.

“Sandwiches, of course,” she says. “Easy sandwiches, easy cold salads – any kind of salad that travels easy like a slaw, because cabbages hold up or kale will hold up better. And just great sandwiches, There’s so many different things you can do. Sandwiches are like pizza. Like anything you put between bread is going to taste great. Anything you put on top of bread and bake it like a pizza is going to taste great. You know, only your imagination can hold you back.”

In another episode this season, Bertinelli does a remote segment for NBC’s “Today” and heads to the New York apartment of that show’s co-host Hoda Kotb to demonstrate a steak recipe. And then burgers are the focus of another installment, in which she challenges herself to come up with new variations on an American classic.

Away from “Home Cooking,” Bertinelli has a pilot for a prospective series airing Saturday, May 22, titled “Valerie’s Hot Dish,” in which she invites actress friends Melissa Peterman and Nicole Sullivan over to her house for food, drink and conversation, with guest appearances by TV personality Ross Mathews and her Food Network cohort Duff Goldman.

“Maybe you call it like a cross between a talk show and a cooking show,” Bertinelli says. “It’s a little bit of everything. I’d be curious to see what people kind of call it when they tune in to watch.

“Maybe we’ll get more of an idea,” she adds with a laugh.

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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