Mob Wives star Renee Graziano and her sisters – the show’s creator, Jennifer Graziano, and restaurateur, Lana Graziano – have joined together to create a full color cookbook, titled, How to Use a Meat Cleaver: Secrets and Recipes from a Mob Family’s Kitchen.
Renee opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about sharing 100 of their favorite and most coveted family recipes, the joys of motherhood with 20-year-old son AJ, the success of Mob Wives, and her best advice for parents facing the empty news.
CBS: Did it surprise you that Mob Wives became the No. 1 show on VH1? How do you keep up with such a demanding schedule?
RG: “When I first started on the show, I did not know what was going to happen but everyone tuned in and the fans made it the No. 1 show. This is the most realistic show that depicts this type of lifestyle. Filming season 5 starts early this summer and I am busy with my new book tour, Playing with Fire.
After I am done filming I make time for myself and spending time with my son, family and close friends.”
CBS: What is it like to work with your sisters? And tell us about the inspiration for your cookbook, titled, How to Use a Meat Clever: Secrets and Recipes from a Mob Family’s Kitchen.
RG: “The recipes come from my real family. My father is actually a big cook, so it was passed down from my parents and grandparents. When it comes to Italians, food is what keeps us together.
We wanted to pass down our recipes into other peoples’ kitchens because when your family comes together, no matter how angry somebody is, you can still sit down and break bread — that is really important. How To Use A Meat Cleaver is more than just recipes — it’s a story, pictures, it is personal.
The cookbook was a way to thank our parents for everything they’ve done for us.
Jennifer came up with the name. Ever the marketer, she wanted it to be catchy and reflect the content of the show, but also be real and authentic enough to stand against any Italian cookbook out there. It really is amazing.”
CBS: How has your life changed since you started filming Mob Wives? How do you keep a sense of normalcy with your celebrity status?
RG: “It has changed that I am more noticed in the public eye now, but I love my supportive fans. I still have the same friends since I was young. I stay true to myself and my son is my No. 1 priority so that keeps it normal.
I’m focusing on Renee. I’m working on me and the show has given me a platform to work on my brand.
Overall, it’s been quite an experience. It’s comforting that my sister is behind the camera, because there is a feeling of safety there, although I definitely don’t get special treatment.”
CBS: Italian families’ lives are centered on family and food. What’s it like sitting around the dinner table at your house?
RG: “I love to cook. Sundays are a very important day for Italian families. You could hate each other all week long, but when that food hits the table on Sunday, it no longer matters. So it brings the family together — it brings health to your body and it gives you time. Even if it’s just 5 minutes with your family to sit and talk and ask them how their day was. My son will say that no matter what, mom always had a meal on the table for me and that’s important.
Our family gets together — we laugh, we argue, we catch up on everyone’s lives. It’s like glue – it keeps us together.”
CBS: How old is your son AJ? Does he have plans to attend college? What are his interests these days?
RG: “AJ turns 20 this year – he is out of school and is working now. He wanted to enter the work force for a few years and make some money while he decides exactly what he wants to do with his life/career.”
CBS: What kinds of things do you enjoy doing with AJ? How has your relationship changed since you started filming Mob Wives? What words of wisdom would you share with moms who are preparing for an empty nest?
RG: “We have our mother son dates – whether it’s to a movie, dinner, or sports game. He’s my buddy and I love him as a mother loves her child, but also as a best friend.
He’s greatest kid in the world — I can’t even explain what an amazing child he is.
Since filming started, we’ve learned so much about each other. He has been my rock.
My wisdom for moms out there that have kids leaving for school or a job in the big city is spend as much time with them at home as you can. Quality time with your kids is very precious because they grow up fast.”