Wendy Stuart Kaplan has so much going on in her life it’s amazing that she can focus….but she does, and well. She is a model, author, Zoom TV co-host, producer, Host of her own comedy-cooking show, film producer, documentary maker, gay activist, animal activist, New York Nightlife personality, and an absolutely awesome, incredible, vivacious and fun person….For those who aren’t yet familiar….meet Wendy Stuart Kaplan…
What’s new in the world of cooking?
Exciting news! Are you sitting down? Pandemic Cooking has gone on the road! That’s right! You’re probably thinking how did she do that? As we have entered into our opening up phase I thought to myself “you don’t have to cook alone anymore”! So keeping to the rule of social distancing and ordering face shields for myself and my guest, I’m able to go into people’s kitchens and we can all be safe! And believe me I know some incredible cooks! Some of my last episodes were shot with Celebrity Hairdresser Richard Lowy! He’s worked with Raquel Welch and there we were in his kitchen with our face shields on, cooking up a storm! And because the shields are clear unlike a mask, you can see our happy faces as we sauté away! It’s so natural you forget you have a shield on when you go to taste something and then oops! It smears all of it! Guess it’s one of the job hazards! And today we did an outdoor barbecue with Goya Marinade for the chicken! Throw it on the grill and you’ve got a tasty Cuban dish! And who doesn’t love a tasty Cuban dish Pollo Crillio ! And believe me my guests are as colorful as my dishes. Because cooking together during a pandemic really brings out the quirky! Today’s guest was feminine, fun and a Doomsday Prepper since 2009. So when the Pandemic hit, Simone had a basement full of food! Unlike me who had books in their oven!!! I know so many interesting fun people I’m excited to see who I decide to cook with next!
What’s new in the world of Wendy Stuart Kaplan?
As you know I am very involved in Triversity, our not for profit that serves the LGBTQ community. As the person who threw a lot of our fun events, I had to come up with some new ideas during a time of social distancing. So I’ve started hosting some fantastic online events with my executive director. We did an evening of readings about coming out, or being gay and adopting, or transitioning and I have to tell you each and every story was filled with such emotion, such realness and honesty, I can’t remember when I was empathetically moved to that degree. From that night the seed was planted for Triversity Talk, which I host with our executive director and we interview extraordinary people in the LGBTQ Community. So, I’ve had to take every skill I had live, or on stage, and move it on line. And I took to it like a duck to water! Imagine that. Because of this Pandemic I’ve gotten to perform with some incredible people like comedian Ike Avelli in “Live In Bed With Ike Avelli” and “Evan Laurence Presents“ doing sketches, readings, singing parody’s ;(Tainted Glove like Tainted Love and Virtual Girl like Material Girl) that I’ve writteN, and just about anything else you could think of! I tell you it’s been a Renaissance for me! And I’ve had fit modeling jobs for clients on Zoom? They send me the clothes and we set up a Zoom meeting and I try things on in front of the computer for them. It’s great. I don’t have to go on the subway. I can do this is my own house. A girl could get used to this easily!
What drives you?
I am driven aren’t I? I’ve always had burning ambition, always felt like if I didn’t go 90 miles an hour the parade would pass me by! And that thought was something I could not live with. I am very determined in anything I try and do and I just don’t give up. Passion drives me. I feel we are in this lifetime to create, experience, and explore! My curiosity drives me. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t read something or meet someone that makes me want to know more. I don’t have a filter or boundaries. Not great as a kid to be that way but fantastic now. I’m also a Capricorn and we’re always climbing mountains. I came up with “Pandemic Cooking With Wendy“ because they shut down NYC March 12 and it occurred to me I’m a performer WTF now! No stagework, no MC, no hosting, no modeling, no nightlife! Nooooo Unacceptable! I’ll start a cooking show that’s what I’ll do! And not let the fact that I don’t cook get in the way. In my parallel universe, the only reality is what I can see. And I now have 60 episodes that encompass everything I did before! My costumes, my comedy, my hosting, even cooking with guests where possible! I’m using my entire skill set in a way I could have never envisioned. And my husband who is the videographer shoots and edits the entire show. And guess what happened? I learned to cook! I’ve been published in a cookbook, been on podcasts and radio, all because of an idea I had March 12th! Okay the Culinary Institute won’t be inviting me as a guest chef anytime soon but see what happens when you’re driven? Anything can happen.
If you could have any guest appear on your Pandemic Cooking Show, who would you choose and why?
Well you know how much I love drag! What could be more fun than to have Sherry Vine on my cooking show! We would be like sisters, two blonde bombshells cooking up trouble in the kitchen! We would both have big big hair and wear Bob Mackie Couture, dripping with sequins as we chopped, mixed, stirred, glazed looking fabulous the entire time. Our audience would see how glamorous cooking could actually be. And the dishes we would create “sashay flambé cream brûlée, or polenta a la fierce, or aurora borealis au gratin potatoes. The sky is the limit here! We would also be singing while we cooked! Sherry is well known for her off color parodies and we could compose some about food! And not “mince“ words! Mince by the way is a cooking term which means to chop up into tiny pieces. And then we could “dish”, another cooking term, about this seasons Drag Race! We would have a “ball”! As in drag ball….
Do you have a favorite episode?
As a matter of fact I do. I loved being Pam the stewardess (not a flight attendant, definitely a stewardess) , and I fly Pandemic Airlines anywhere in the world! You see it’s all virtual because none of us are going anywhere these days, but you can travel in your mind can’t you! And of course, we serve airplane food on Pandemic Airlines just like they do in real life! I even serve it in those little plastic dishes, with the aluminum foil over it! I believe we served a chicken dish with rice. I was going for realness here. Anyway, we ran out of the beef by the time we got half way up the aisle. Isn’t that what always happens? You know how it goes. And then there was the guy getting high in the bathroom. I had to physically restrain him in his seat with handcuffs! Most of the passengers were no trouble because I introduced them to virtual First Class which I discovered on a 12-hour trip to Hong Kong in Coach. Virtual First Class is 1/2 an Ambian washed down with six ounces of Vodka. You sleep like a baby, and arrive at your destination adjusted to the time change feeling fresh as a daisy. The beauty of Pandemic Airlines is you can experience every aspect of flying without ever leaving the ground! And you can pay for your tickets on Venmo!
How did you become so creative?
I found that the more life experiences I had, the more confident I became, and the more I didn’t seek approval from outsiders. Being able to “go for it” to create something whether it be a documentary, producing a club night, or turning out a great performance, allows for me to take risks. And if I can jump in with both feet and not worry about failing, or other people’s approval, it really allows for all of those great creative thoughts to percolate. The way Pandemic Cooking With Wendy was launched which had to do with the shutting down of NYC on March 12th. Suddenly myself and anyone else I knew in nightlife or any kind of performing career, had whatever we did put on pause. I had just come off of weeks of promoting events, hosting, presenting, acting, modeling and suddenly there was nothing! Literally within 3 days I came up with Pandemic Cooking With Wendy, a show that really used all of my talents, and Zoom became my stage for doing sketch comedy on friends shows like Live In Bed With Ike Avelli, or Evan Laurence Presents. I even started working with modeling clients on Zoom! All of this happened because when NYC went on “pause” I shifted into high gear. I’m still in high gear, taking Pandemic Cooking on the road. Have face shield will travel! Look at the exciting locations for Pandemic Cooking With Wendy, like Carbondale PA with a celebrity hairdresser, or a pipe welder from Vernon NJ! Because I love cooking with people from everywhere! And I’m having a blast doing it. I’ve even come up with a campaign for my collection of face masks designed by my very talented designer friends. It’s called “Living My Best Pandemic Life”. And anywhere I am that’s cool, I whip out my phone and shoot a selfie which goes on my social media.
When can we expect one of your very cool documentaries?
Right now we are editing “Working Dogs:A Love Story” set time be finished by early fall. What I love about this film is paying homage to therapy and service dogs. From 9/11 when we first started hearing about rescue dogs that were hero’s I felt that you never really heard more about the dog, that a line or two in the newspaper or the news was deemed enough. But it’s not enough. In our film created with my partner Alan Kaplan we present these dogs in an empathetic light, how they truly help the people who need them, and the intrinsic personality of each dog as it relates to the bond they have with the people they are helping. From sensing when their person needs to take their seizure medicine, to anticipating an anxiety attack for a person with PTSD, to children who need someone to read to that won’t judge them so that they can increase their reading skills, these are just a few of the situations we present in the film. People will realize what incredible hero’s dogs are and what they contribute to our society. I f you love dogs you’ll love our film. And if you’re not a dog lover, you’ll leave knowing a lot more about service and therapy dogs and feel empathy for the humans who depend on them.
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Photo Credits: Wendy Stuart Kaplan