Cheril Vendetti Combines Cooking and Comedy
December 2, 2010
by John Long
Editor's Note: Since we published the December issue of Camp with this article, the location of Cheril Vendetti's performance in Kansas City has been changed: Cheril Vendetti will now be performing Dec. 19 at Sidekicks Saloon, 3707 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. For more information on tickets, call 816.931.1430.
Only a comedian like Cheril Vendetti would make me wish I hadn't deleted a message on my office voice mail. When I played her message aloud to take notes, she had the two of us in the office nearly rolling on the floor laughing. And this wasn't even a comedy routine.
Vendetti will be in Kansas City on Dec. 19 to perform at Sidekicks Saloon, 3707 Main Street. Recently we had a chance to talk, and she shared some of her story.
She and her partner and business manager Tonya Glass have an 8-month-old daughter, Sophia Rose, and they live in Sacramento, Calif., mainly because of Glass' job. During the pregnancy, they had the opportunity to be on a reality show about parenting on the Discovery network called Deliver Me.
"We were living in L.A. at the time, and I was watching Extra because I love Mario Lopez. And I saw them do this segment about these three doctors in L.A. and I thought, "Wait a minute, one of these doctors looks familiar" and it happened to be our doctor.
"They asked us to be on it, and it's debuting next January, 2011. They followed us around for like three months during the pregnancy, and we had Sophia on air. It's really cool because we were the third gay couple they've ever had on the show and they've shot something like 90-something episodes."
"Tonya's my partner and she also manages me, and hair and makeup," Vendetti said. "We just had our anniversary last night. OK, now this is the thing, and I'm sure you know this. So in the straight world, you get married once. In the gay world, or the gay and lesbian world, whatever it is, we have an anniversary over the night we met. And then we have an anniversary over when we became domestic partners. And then we have an anniversary over when we got married. We got married in Hawaii. So we have three anniversaries that we celebrate and -- I've got to tell you this -- that I'm lucky if I can remember one. And so is she.
"I told her, here's what we need to do, because I'm from Massachusetts. Wherever gay marriage is legalized, we need to go and get married there. Anything to have a cocktail and a bunch of people partying. So last night, we celebrated we've been together six years."
In addition to her appearances in stand-up shows and the reality shows, Vendetti has written a cookbook on Italian food, called Mistress of the Mob Cuisine. She also has made frequent appearances doing cooking segments called "The Comic That Cooks" on a local cable TV show.
The book, she said, laughing, is "actually based on my family, even though they don't speak to me anymore. I took my family, the Vendetti family, and I turned them into a crime family, and their only crime was that they were ricotta-intolerant. It's 75 recipes - and each of the recipes tells a story about either the Italian culture or 13 people in my family. It has illustrations, and there are wonderful characters like Cousin Al, who still lives in his basement with his mother. It takes place in the '60s, before gay was really chic, so I have a couple of gay characters in it and, obviously, mobster types and Italian types.
"My manager has been in touch with The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and we sent her over a book. And who knows, hopefully, I want to cook with Ellen. I worked with Emeril last summer, I did the Taste of Chicago -- I opened for him at that big festival. I'm also writing a parenting book, because I'm the baby daddy," she said, laughing. "So I'm busy, I've been busy."
"Oh, I've got to tell you this, John. I've got to tell you what I did Saturday night. There's a gay talk show here in Sacramento called Checkered Nation. "It's these two guys, Mark and Kevin, and they've done this show for, like, three years and what they do to get Sacramento on the map is that they go to all the local gay events and they set up their talk show. They do anything that's gay. I did the show for them on Saturday, and they asked me to come back and co-host. Isn't that great?"
We talked about other jobs she's held, including a short stint selling wine at Costco, right before she began filming her reality show in Los Angeles.
"This guy calls me up, and he says to me, "Are you still interested in working? I have a gig for six weeks selling wine at Costco, and what do you know about wine?" I said to him, "Well, let me check my refrigerator," she said with a laugh. "So he gets me this job for six weekends at Costco in the wine section. People would come to me and ask me, "What do you think of this wine?" and I'd say, 'Oh, go to Trader Joe's.' I became friendly with the sample ladies and at the time I was trying to lose weight, and I don't need to tell you that some of the samples at Costco are delicious."
We ended the interview with my suggestion that she possibly appear on a Kansas City TV show and demonstrate her cooking skills when she's in town. It didn't take more than a second for Vendetti to respond, amid her contagious laughter: "Do you know anybody over there? Is there any way you could Have you slept with anybody over there? You think you can so I can get the segment booked? I'll give you a free cookbook!"
I'm sure Vendetti's stand-up routine will be even more crazy than our hilarious phone interview.
Cheril Vendetti will be performing Dec. 19 at Sidekicks Saloon, 3707 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. For more information on tickets, call 816.931.1430. Her book, Mistress of the Mob Cuisine can be purchased for $19.95 at www.cherilvendetti.com and next spring at amazon.com. You can watch her interview with Mark and Kevin at www.checkerednation.com.