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Tina Majorino Interview!

Interview by Tyler Steele

Around the time most of us are taking the training wheels off our bikes, Tina Majorino was already starring in television and films, alongside the likes of Oscar winners Hilary Swank, Whoopi Goldberg and Kevin Costner. At 13 she decided to take on a role she hadn’t yet played – being a normal kid! She took 5 years off before a triumphant return to the screen as “Deb” in last year’s hit Napoleon Dynamite.

Film sets have notoriously good food – and lots of it. This sets some high standards for food, and can bring the pratfalls of constantly eating in between takes. We caught up with Tina at Clifton’s Brookside, a landmark in LA’s burgeoning downtown.

Tina Majorino: I’ve never been here before – never even heard of it – but it’s pretty cool.

Turtle Soup: Yeah, it hasn’t changed much in 66 years!

That’s interesting – I like that – because LA doesn’t really have as much [old] history.

You’ve traveled a lot for work and fun – what are your favorite restaurants?

In New York, it’s John’s Pizzeria in the village. It’s so good. They make huge slices and I like to fold them like a taco. I love the Cheesecake Factory. I’m picky about what I eat and they’re always cool about making changes and substitutions.

What do you get there and how do you substitute it?

I get filet mignon cooked medium with asparagus, which I love, instead of fries, which I don’t really like. I know it’s funny but even when I was a little kid asparagus was the only vegetable my mom could get me to eat as a kid. I also like their teriyaki chicken. Instead of white rice I get the brown rice or additional asparagus and broccoli. I try to eat as healthy as I can, and there’s probably like 1200 calories in it, but I love their Linda’s Fudge cake. It’s huge and they serve it with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. The best part is it has really, really thick frosting, but it’s the real kind – not from the can. They put chocolate sprinkles on the back end of the cake. It’s the best cake ever! Did I mention I have a really bad sweet tooth? (Laughs)

I like that their menu have pictures, so I don’t have to keep ogling what everyone else has coming to their table to see how good it looks!

I’m a very visual person too, so I like when there are pictures, and I sometimes spy on what others are eating, which I shouldn’t, since it annoys me when they do that to me.

What are your other favorite sweets?

Sugar cookie dough. My friend makes it the best, and we shared a little bowl of it the other night. I love to bake.

Baking is hard!

It is, but I don’t know, I feel like it’s more fun since I can put more of my style into it then when I’m cooking. Plus there’s sugar! I really love the smell of fresh cookies in the oven, or pies. I really love pies. Dutch apple with the crumbles on top and marionberry pie and peach pie are my favorites. There’s nothing like making fresh food in general – especially when you’re baking with fresh, organic fruit because there are so many pesticides in many grown foods. It’s cool because we have some fruit trees in our yard – grapes, avocados, citrus, so we just pick them. We live on a hill, so when the breeze comes along we smell fresh orange blossoms.

What’s your favorite market to shop at?

Gelson’s. I really like the variety of great stuff that they have. It’s along the way from my house to L.A. and I like that I can stop by and pick up some things. I also like Whole Foods. They’re awesome. They sell my favorite kinds of sodas. They have this Crystal Geyser Strawberry Banana juice...

I love that juice – I drink a whole bottle a day!

It’s really good, huh? They don’t sell it in any of the stores near my house. It tastes really good, and sweet, but doesn’t have any sugar. I like the layout there too – I’m not tempted to buy stuff I don’t need.

Did you always eat healthy?

No, but of course when you’re like 15 and 16 you can eat chocolate cake for lunch and not get fat, but as you get older your body completely changes and it doesn’t work the same. It sucks!

When did you make the decision to start eating better?

I was having anxiety. I hired a trainer Valerie, who is amazing. She really taught me about eating stuff that tastes good but is also good for me. I was all about eating at In-N-Out burger 3 or 4 times a week. It’s not good to eat like that all the time. After I saw Supersize Me and saw all the things fast food has in it, and all of the side effects it causes, I never ate at McDonald’s again. Certain foods can cause anxiety or sickness, so I try to be more aware now. Eating healthy forces you to try new things because you don’t want to have chicken and salad for every meal.

Since you’re Italian do you love that food or are you sick of it?

No, I don’t think I could ever get sick of Italian food. There’s a lot more to it than spaghetti and meatballs. My dad and I both love to cook. He makes a killer saltimbocca and fettuccini alfredo.

What ethnic foods do you like?

I’m allergic to peanuts, so I can’t eat a lot of ethnic foods since many are cooked in peanut oil. Every Christmas Eve we make a killer Mexican feast instead of having turkey. I’m not too into Chinese and Asian food, but I do love Benihana. But you can’t eat that every day. The food is so good! That little bowl of rice – you’re thinking ‘God, they’re really sticking me with the rice” but then you start eating the whole thing and realize it’s a lot more than you thought. I know this sounds silly, but until recently I’d never eaten fish, except for tuna. I don’t really consider that a fish since it comes in a can. Fish is so good, and so nutritious. I really like snapper.

Since you’ve cut down on sugar, how do you satisfy your sweet tooth?

Well, I love the fudgsicles by Healthy Choice. They’re really awesome, only 90 calories and don’t have a lot of sugar. Another thing I love is cut berries in cream with some Splenda. Splenda is genius. My sweet tooth is pretty demanding, and Splenda makes things even sweeter than sugar.

With oatmeal, I put the Whey protein powder in with Vanilla flavor, and put a full scoop in after it’s cooked, and it balances out the sugar and carbs.

Are you more of a breakfast, lunch or dinner person?

I love food and I love eating. Eating is one of my favorite things to do. Breakfast food by far is the one I can eat the most of. Anytime of the day it’s great. Some of it’s from being little, because my dad has always made these amazing pancakes, and my mom has one of those crazy Belgian waffle makers. You can be really creative with breakfast.

What are your other favorite foods?

Pasta is by far my favorite thing to eat. Growing up we’d have fettuccini alfredo and garlic bread. When I was real little, as a treat, my mom would make mac and cheese with those little hot dogs. Sooo good!

What foods do you hate?

Green beans. They make me gag. Peanuts, because I’ll die if I eat them. Oh, and veal, because I don’t eat baby cows. Or lamb.

What 3 things in always in your fridge?

Turkey, string cheese and hearts of palm. And green mild taco sauce. I’m not even sure why on the last one, but it’s always there.

What’s the most exotic or strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Jellyfish. I was tricked into eating it by my dad in Las Vegas. It was gross. I’ve also been tricked into eating deer meat by my dad, who told me it was steak.

Do you bring any of your own food or snacks to the set, so you’re not tempted by all the treats at the Crafts Services tables?

They always have really good food on the sets, but I try to stay away from the crafts service table because even if I walk over with good intentions I always end up screwing it up like “I can’t even look at this chocolate muffin without going after it!” So I bring some of my own. I definitely bring my own snacks – and not just to the sets. If I’m in the car, I have a little cooler because I get really grumpy if I don’t have my snacks. I’m a very regimented eater, and always have been.

If you could be reincarnated as any food, which would it be?

A sweet potato. I love them. They’re great without anything on them, and full of nutrients.

If you could have anyone to dinner, who would it be and what would you serve?

I’d have my family, my friends and 50 Cent. I think I would make really thin chicken breasts, pounded, breaded with sourdough crumbs, seasoned with salt & pepper and lemon, served with fettuccini alfredo and garlic bread. And more so than cooking dinner I’d probably bake. I’d make peach cobbler, upside down pineapple cake and marionberry pie, and have big buckets of ice cream.

What’s your favorite homemade recipe?

Italian casserole. Mmmm…good times. You take shredded sirloin and put it with tomato paste and a little bit of sauce, and some corn and you pour elbow pasta over it and bake it until the top is crunchy, and then you sprinkle it with freshly grated parmesan. For dessert, my favorite is vanilla of ice cream with, and this is a technical term, a butt load of sprinkles. I have a Baskin Robbins down the street, and this guy just loads them on.

Where I’m from they call sprinkles Jimmies.

Jimmies? Huh. I have an ex-boyfriend named Jimmy, so I try to stay away from anything called Jimmy.

What would you make for a guy you’re trying to impress?

I’m not very keen on impressing guys, but if I was cooking for a guy, which if I had a boyfriend that would be cool, I’d make something yummy and rich, like a really good filet mignon, or a roasted chicken with garlic. We used to make it with lemon and broiled garlic that you spread on the chicken about halfway through cooking. The garlic is really good for you, but it makes you stink. We had it one night and I was running the next day and I started thinking, “what smells so bad?” and then realized it was me!

What exercise do you do?

I like running. I run with my friend Jodie and we keep each other company. When you have a trainer, it’s nice because you can keep motivated and keep on track with your exercise and eating.

After “Napoleon Dynamite,” will you ever drink 1% milk again?

I used to drink 1% but then the whole Napoleon thing happened so I kinda got turned off on it. I still drink fat free milk. When I was little my brother told me chocolate milk was from abused cows, so I never liked it. But I do like milk and drink a lot of it, so I had to go to the fat free.


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