NEW YORK – Cooking for family is fun for actress Valerie Bertinelli. Cooking for Betty White was intimidating.
For the debut of Valerie’s Home Cooking, her new Food Network show premiering Saturday in the U.S., Bertinelli invited co-stars White, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick from the now-defunct TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland for a meal.
“It was a little nerve-racking because Betty doesn’t like too many things,” Bertinelli said of her 93-year-old colleague. “She likes tuna fish, she likes hot dogs, she likes Red Vines (candy) and vodka. So what am I going to make for Betty?”
Vodka sounds like a nice start. Bertinelli settled on a tuna salad with an Italian twist.
Growing up in an Italian family, it was “food, God and garlic in our house,” she said. The 55-year-old Bertinelli has fond memories of learning to make pasta from scratch as a young girl, and has long enjoyed cooking as a way to bring family and friends together.
She’s hoping the 10-episode Valerie’s Home Cooking is enough of a success to merit a second season so she can go back to a culinary “boot camp,” full days of trying out recipes with no worries about cleaning up.
Bertinelli sipped a green drink during an interview backstage at the Today show this week. She’s on a sugar detox after co-hosting the Kids Baking Championship for the Food Network, where some sampling was in order.
“When the Food Network came on, I had it on all the time in my house,” she said. “Some people had CNN on, I had the Food Network going on all the time. To be on it now is really surreal.”
The former teen sitcom star of One Day at a Time will be looking for acting jobs again following the cancellation of Hot in Cleveland after six seasons. She and her co-stars loved the roles because they provided meaningful jobs in an industry where middle-aged and older actresses are not exactly a hot commodity.
“Then they cancelled us because they wanted to put on younger shows,” she said.
She’s particularly proud of Wolfgang, her 24-year-old son with rocker Eddie Van Halen. He’s playing in his dad’s band, and now that he’s gotten older, Bertinelli is over the concerns she had about him going out on the road as a teenager.
She rode in the tour bus recently with Wolfgang to a show, and for the first time he played and sang for her some of the songs he had written. Mom was a puddle.
“I said, ‘Thanks a lot for that, Wolfie!”‘ she said. “‘Now I have to put on a whole new face of makeup.’ I was sobbing.”