Food Network is bringing you a new reality TV show called "Family Style". The show follows brother and sister team Melissa and Joey Maggiore as they make their new restaurant, Tommy V's, a success. Starpulse got a chance to interview the duo and learn more about what their life is like with a new Food Network show and what they love about being siblings in a working world.
Starpulse- Thursday's the big day, are you guys ready?
Melissa Maggiore- Oh yes, we're so excited. We had a sneak peek of episode one [...] that aired on the Food Network, did ya catch it?
SP- I did catch it. You guys are hysterical to watch.
(both laugh) M- Thank you. So what did you think?
SP- I thought it was really funny, I like that you guys try to keep it light. I mean, the show is really about you guys running your restaurant, and the fact that you guys are always playing pranks on each other, I just love that I think that makes it so fun.
MM- Well, when you're locked in a restaurant you're the first one to get here in the morning and the last one to leave, you're here for 14 hours a day, and so you have to do something to eliminate and relieve some of the stress.
Joey Maggiore- Yeah what better than to drag your sister out!
SP- (laugh) Right! So, what's the story behind the show? Did Food Network approach the two of you or was it the reverse? How did you end up on Food Network?
JM- It was the reverse, my childhood friend got into the production business and would come to the restaurant and say "Oh my God, one day you and Melissa have to have a show. You guys are hilarious!" And we were like "Ok, yeah it's a dream. We wish, ya know?" And then he came to us and said "Oh, I would love to do a little pilot and see if it goes anywhere." And we're like "Ok, yeah, whatever." So he filmed his little pilot and it was really good. And so he says "Yeah, but I'm just starting a production company and so I'll try to sell it to someone else and see if they pick it up." And he brought it to a big, well-known production company called "HighNoon Productions" and they fell in love with it as well and they said "Ok, now let's do a REAL pilot!" So we started filming another pilot and that was the one of me and Melissa cooking in all the restaurants, it was fun and we were talking about this restaurant [Tommy V's Urban Kitchen] we were going to open in Carlsbad, California. And they started thinking about sending it to Food Network and other networks. And we kept our fingers crossed that Food Network would like it, and they did. So here we are now.
MM- And out of all the networks that we pitched the show to, Food Network and TLC were interested and apparently they were going back and forth in a bidding war and Joey and I kept thinking "How fantastic would it be?" First of all, Food Network is our favorite channel and our kids' favorite channels. It's all we've ever watched for years. And to think that they found what we did interesting enough and to be in the same realm with all those other people that we look up to, it was amazing. And when we got the phone call we literally...the hair was standing up on my arms.
JM- She has long hair, believe me!
MM- Long hairs, I'm Italian!
SP- (laugh) So, how long ago did you film that pilot?
MM- Four years ago.
SP- Wow, so it was a long wait for you guys.
MM- Yep, four years in the making, and believe me, out of Joey and I, I'm the one that's more...I mean I'm an optimistic person and a positive person, but I'm kind of like "I'll believe it when I see it," you know? You can't sell me a bridge. I'm an Eskimo, you can't sell me ice. But Joey, he believes everybody.
JM- I bought the bridge! (laugh)
MM- And you know, I just kept saying "Joey, this is ridiculous, nothing's going to come of it." And after all of the months passed I was like "See, see, see?" And out of the clear blue a year and a half later I had to eat my words because my brother was right. They came knocking at our doors.
SP- Wow. So, what do you both like about being a brother/sister team? What makes you get up in the morning and handle the stress of the restaurant every day?
JM- You know what, you wake up in the morning and you say to yourself "God, I want to be better than Melissa," but when you get to work together, and the customer gets to reap the benefits because we're both trying our hardest to out-do each other -- the customer gets a great meal, great service. And it keeps it fun, you know? If I want to yell and play jokes on Melissa it's great because it relieves my stress! (laugh)
MM- But for me it has to be a different goal now because I am better than Joey! I can't really say that I want to be better than Joey because it is what it is.
MM- No I think from my standpoint, like I said earlier, it's very, very tough and you have to trust the people you're in business with. This is your baby, essentially, and who better to trust this with than my brother. Joey and I are very close, we're the only siblings, we make a great team, and it's really nice to be able to say that.
JM- We're so close that people might say weird things about us! (laugh)
MM- Oh shut up!
SP- (laugh) So the commercials that have been showing on Food Network show that you guys had a speed dating event at the restaurant?
JM- Basically what we do is we host events all the time and we try to bring in new customers. We were approached by this lady who owns a speed dating company in San Diego. This was a Monday or Tuesday night, one of our slower nights, and so we said "Oh we'd love to do one." She said "Yeah, we bring about 40 people." So I said "My sister and my cousin are single right now, so why don't we get them involved!" So I started the process of getting them both involved in this speed dating gig.
MM- And I didn't know this until the last second and, believe me, I was very hesitant. And the woman tried to assure me by saying "Don't worry about it, Melissa, your brother filled out the profile for what you like."
SP- Oh no! (laugh)
MM- And so the men that Joey picked for me, I thought to myself, "Either Joey does not know me at all or this is another prank" because those were the last people on earth...I mean, I will be single the rest of my life if that's the cesspool that I have to choose from.
JM- We wanted to have fun with it. So every appetizer had something to do with some sort of aphrodisiac. So all the courses we did were something that were supposed to work.
MM- It didn't work, by the way! I don't think it worked!
SP- That's great, so was that considered the craziest event that you had to either cater or have at the restaurant?
MM- No, unfortunately.
JM- That's just the one we could show on TV! (laugh)
MM- No, well, in one of the shows -- and this one for me was horrible -- my brother agreed to have his brother-in-law's rehearsal dinner and my brother agreed to do it Mexican-style without letting me know. Joey can't say no, he always has to be the nice one. [We're] not a Mexican restaurant and so, you know, there were mariachis and they wanted my wait staff to wear ponchos and I was having a nervous breakdown.
JM- Yeah but I made great food. The food was phenomenal.
MM- But [we're] not a Mexican restaurant! People were coming in and everyone looks like an idiot. It was terrible.
SP- But this wasn't at Tommy V's? This was at a previous restaurant?
MM- Oh no, this was at Tommy V's. Oh yeah, it was the second week we were open, so customers still don't even know us. So they're walking in and my staff is wearing ponchos.
JM- But what I wanted to try to get across to everybody is that we'll cater any event. We won't just stick to Italian. I'll do any party you want. Bring it in.
MM- Next time we're going to cater it off site because I don't know what will possibly come next.
SP- So part of the show is that you both like to "one up" each other with regard to pranks. So each of you, what was the worst prank that you have done to each other?
JM- I think America realized my worst nightmare [on the sneak peek] when I was so excited to do this Esquire Magazine [photo shoot]. Melissa set it up for me at this beach. I like to be the center of attention, but I don't like to look 40 pounds overweight and frolicking in the sand. But I can take it.
MM- Well you gotta get people where it hurts the worst and my brother's ego, that's where you get it!
JM- (laughs) Yeah ok!
MM- And it was funny because when I told him that he was having this interview at Esquire Magazine, he was like "Ha ha, they want me, they don't want you" type of thing. And I was like "Yeah, yeah you're the better looking one." For me, everyday there's some sort of prank, I kid you not, for the last 34 years of my life. I had been bothering him because I wanted the desserts to be better at the restaurant and everybody was falling short of what I wanted. He played this restaurant trick on me, and it was the oldest one in the book but I fell for it. After you make an espresso, the pod of espresso that's left behind, you throw it out. [What he did was] put it in a mold and people think it's a brownie. So Joey took a couple of them, doctored it up so it looked like the most delicious fudge brownie concoction you've ever seen. He brought it to me and I was genuinely happy and I thought "Oh, my little brother does care about me, I love him," and I think at that moment he felt bad. But I took a big bite into it and swallowed it, and it stuck to the roof of my mouth. I was spitting it out, I thought I was going to choke. It was horrible.
SP- That is horrible! I used to work at a Starbucks, so I know exactly what that little puck looks like.
MM- Imagine eating it!
SP- No way!
JM- That was good for a couple days. (laugh)
SP- So Tommy V's Urban Kitchen is the name of the restaurant, but who is that? A relative? Where did the name come from?
MM- Yes, it's our dad and mom. Well, the DNA is still pending for Joey. (laugh) But Tommaso is our father's name and he's from Italy, but Tommy is the English version. And the V stands for Valentino which is my mother's maiden name.
SP- Oh nice. So you truly are keeping it family style.
MM- Yes, definitely.
SP- Now, there's a terrible stereotype in the U.S. for what we think Italian food is. Spaghetti and meatballs is what usually comes to mind. I was in Tuscany for two weeks at the end of May and I can tell you, it's hard to find things here that can even come close. How do you combat this issue?
JM- Well, we grew up with Italian food, you know, Northern Sicily. My dad has the recipes from the old country. So we were trained, both of us, to cook the cuisine of Italy. In America, things get diluted and changed a bit. So we stick to our roots and try to stay classical with a modern spin on it.
MM- Right, you know, the thing is the Italian food is very innovative, and simple, and less is more, and it's very very healthy. And I think in this country we doctored it a little bit. The hardest thing for Joey and I is sticking with the authenticity of Italian food while still giving your customers what they're looking for, because at the end of the day we're here for to serve our customers. So we have to have a healthy balance of both.
SP- Wonderful, well thank you so much guys, I appreciated talking to you.
J & M- Thank you. Enjoy the show!
SP- I'm really excited for you both with regard to Thursday's premiere. Good luck with everything!
Catch Melissa and Joey Maggiore in their new Food Network show "Family Style" premiering Thursday, August 26 at 10:30 ET/9:30 CT!