Mo Knows Cooking…And More!

Mo Rocca was an indisputable force of dancing nature—or so he thought. The actor, CBS reporter, comedian, author and NPR regular injured his gastrocnemius leg muscle doing the “Turkey Lurkey” at the Fire Island Dance Festival earlier this summer. But a little injury wasn’t going to keep Mo out of the kitchen! We caught up with the host of the Cooking Channel’s My Grandmother’s Ravioli to dish on dating, Chef Boyardee and…cocks in our new October/November Issue, but there was more Mo to go around! Check out our rapid-fire online exclusive as we get Mo’s take on Amanda Bynes, undecided voters and more… 

Do you have a life of luxury while filming?

Oh please, we are digital tier cable. Though I love it creatively, my rider is so far from J.Lo's. I know she demands everything to be white. I just ask that things be relatively unstained.

What's your secret favorite food?

I probably eat too much red meat. I love a good hanger steak. I like lobster rolls, but a bad lobster roll is really bad. It's like eating rubber. The other day, Sunday night, I stopped at McDonald's out on Long Island. I do that once a year. I wanted it so bad. There was Wendy's on the way. Burger King. But it had to be McDonald's. This time, I didn't hate myself as much afterwards.

I hadn't eaten McDonald's fries in years until this spring. They made me almost high on salt and, in my imagination, really sexy. I felt like Miranda Kerr.

Maybe that's why they call it a Happy Meal! It all depends on how the fries are prepared. These fries I ate were hot and crispy. If they're cold and soggy, then you feel anti-sexy.

Amanda Bynes just got off a very anti-sexy 5150 hold for starting a fire in someone's front yard. What items would you burn if you got to start a fire in a random neighborhood?

I would probably burn some of my clothes from the ’90s, like my MC Hammer pants. I might even burn my boxer shorts. When I switched from briefs to boxers, first I thought it was a right move, but this was before boxer-briefs. I'd probably burn my briefs, too. Nobody wants to see them.

I want to toss in my old Spice Girls CD.

I would actually hold onto that Spice Girls album. I'm not burning my Members Only jacket, because it's probably valuable. I'm so worried about the rising oceans that I don't want to burn stuff. It's only gonna make this planet hotter.

Are you saying that my dream of starting a brush fire will hurt my odds with my dream crush, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mr. Environment?

I think you have to suppress your desire to burn anything! He's very serious about the environment. He is probably more landfill oriented.

So why are grandparents the focus of your show?

Because I think that grandparents are at a point in their lives where they don't care what other people think of them, so they'll say what's on their mind. Not a "grandparents say outrageous things" or a "let's watch Betty White act like a lunatic!" type of thing. They're relaxed, and most of them are not as fame crazy as everybody else. It makes them more enjoyable. My memories of my grandmother are ravioli, watching The Birds on TV and going to see The King and I. I’m also interested in finding an evil grandmother for the show. When I did press for the first season, this woman from NBC local said, "I have an evil grandmother! She's diabolical. She sadistically uses her food as a way of luring her grandchildren to her home. They don't like her, she knows it and she revels in how they can't resist how good her food is." I've been searching for evil grandmothers.

Who was your favorite person to profile on CBS News?

Celebrities can be hard, but I loved Loretta Lynn. I was a huge fan of hers. Rita Moreno was completely awesome; she's a grandmother. I also love Roseanne. It's hard to do a celebrity profile without making it feel like a Wikipedia entry.

You've done serious and funny election coverage. Bill Maher argued in 2012 that undecided voters shouldn't vote. Do you agree with him?

Many undecided voters are attention whores. They just want to get on CNN panels. But hey, you gotta start somewhere in this business.

What are your favorite books? Do people still read?

I'm a big American history buff. I love Edmund Morris' first book on Teddy Roosevelt. I wish I had a neck like TR.

You're an actor, too. What was it like being in a big Will Ferrell movie?

I saw my scene [in Bewitched] once on an American Airlines flight. I was startled to see a glimpse of me. That's all it was, and that was the truth. I was like, "I just saw my performance in Bewitched." I'm saying "like" a lot.

It's okay. I watched The Hills this morning…

Yeah, but I'm 44. I can't be doing that. I need to do this interview in an articulate way.

Like Lauren Conrad and her homegirls, have you ever done something for ratings, like eating something that sounds gross but is delicious?

I had cow-eye tacos when I was in Hermosillo, in the desert in northern Mexico. At first, when you bite into it and the fluid squirts into your mouth, it's a little bit startling. Then, it's kind of refreshing. Eating cow eyeballs is so good for your eyesight. I'm so done with carrots.

Please tell Instinct readers about the famous country of MoRocca and how we can visit a mythological place where cow eyeballs are a major export.

Oh, my gosh! For so long, I resented being confused with the northwest African country, Morocco, and I would try to explain to people patiently that I really am a percussive instrument. But then, people would call me marimba or woodblock or triangle, so I made peace with the fact that part of being Mo Rocca is being MoRoccan. If anyone wants to visit the country of MoRocca—I've been there, but never been to me—all you need is a Twitter account. You don't need a passport.

So, why should people watch your TV cooking show?

It's really good. It features people you actually want to know and be related to, as opposed to the crapfest that is most reality TV. And there's no other cooking show like it. I had a 92 year old badass grandpa talk to me about cannibalism. His point: How else are you going to survive if your plane crashes in the Andes? He's got a point.

Do you want to be an embarrassing, evil grandparent one day?

I think so! The people we've had on the show take such joy in their grandchildren. If they can figure out a way to skip kids and go straight to grandkids, there's got to be a way with all this technology involving a petri dish and test tubes. There must be a way!


Catch Mo’s cooking show, My Grandmother’s Ravioli, Wednesdays on the Cooking Channel

(Photo by Thom Kaine)

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