A Bite with Joan Rivers

Published in Gourmet Live 11.17.10
Paula Froelich talks to the comedienne about cooking injuries, plating, and vegans

Joan Rivers, 77, The indomitable actress, comedienne and hostess with the most-ess had just returned from London where her documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work, premiered when she agreed to sit down with Gourmet Live and discuss her favorite topic: food. Just don’t ask her to cook.

Gourmet Live: Do you cook?

Joan Rivers: I don’t cook. My big joke is that the B on the oven stands for “burn.” I can’t cook, and it makes me terribly sad. I would love to be all things to everybody, but I can’t. My big threat to Melissa (her daughter) as a child was, if she was really bad I’d say, “You’re going to bed with dinner!” She’d cry and cry and cry. I have a chef now.

GL: So when did you hire your chef?

Joan Rivers: I was doing the Carson show as a guest and I came home afterwards and cooked a meal for my husband and some friends. After dinner we took a walk and all my guests stopped at a deli and got sandwiches. And my husband said to me, “You know, you can’t cook. You can write a joke. So hire someone that can cook and you write the jokes.”

GL: What was that (last) meal you cooked?

Joan Rivers: Lobster Thermidor. I did a really terrific job. I love good food. I love pretty food. It has to be attractive. I don’t care what kind of meat it is but it should have a beautiful orange or yellow vegetable next to it. Or greens. The plate should be gorgeous and the food should have shapes!

GL: So will you eat anything as long as it’s pretty?

Joan Rivers: I’ll eat anything as long as it’s in the shape of a flower.

GL: If someone sent you bull testicles you’d say yes?

JR: I’d say look how nice. It looks like a flower!

GL: What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?

JR: I like comfort cooking so probably something like a delicious shepherd’s pie or steak. Take me to a great men’s steak house, I’ll love it.

GL: Especially for the men.

JR: Exactly! And when you look down at a steak and baked potato with sour cream. Oh! Heaven!

GL: But you’re so small. How do you eat like that?

JR: I don’t eat after 3 pm. I’m very hungry in the morning and at noon time but by 3 o clock I don’t care if I don’t eat again. As long as I can have a glass of wine at night, I’m good.

GL: What will you do for Thanksgiving if you don’t eat after 3?

JR: I host Thanksgiving every year at my house. We will have a load of sweets! I love sweets! I would like to be at a table where they serve dessert first. That, to me, is heaven. Three courses of dessert would be great.

GL: Who is the best cook you know?

JR: A friend of mine named Joe Cicio who was a vice president of Macy’s for years. I think gay men are the best cooks. He makes the most amazing food. He’ll come to your house, you’ll tell him you have nothing to eat; he’ll go in your kitchen and come out with something amazing. He’ll whip up a stew or a salad. I don’t understand it.

GL: Does your chef get jealous when there’s someone else in the kitchen?

Joan Rivers: Yes. He’s very competitive. My cook Kevin — he and his wife Debbie — I was the first job they took as a couple. They owned a restaurant before in Pennsylvania, so they’re really chefs.

GL: How did you meet them?

JR: They just got tired of dishwashing. It would be a Saturday night and two thirds of the staff wouldn’t show up and they’d just had enough. They said, “Let’s just go into service.” Their thrill is when I say I’m going to have a dinner party and you decide what the menu will be. People have great meals at my house! Debbie always makes amazing desserts. I mean, we’re all children. Desserts should be something very special.

Subscribe to Gourmet