Veronica Hendrix is a Los Angeles based journalist, food blogger of the widely read food blog Collard Greens and Caviar, and will make her debut on the new six-episode series Food Network’s “Clash of the Grandmas Show,” on Food Network Sunday, December 11 at 10:00 p.m. Hosted by Cameron Mathison, the holiday-themed cooking battles premiered November 13th and will go into their fifth episode, “Glam-mas Showdown.”
A native Angeleno and grandmother to a 3-year-old, competes on the hour long show against three other grandmas from Hawaii (Joan Channon), Florida (Dale Roland), and Ohio (Neera Sharma). Following the theme “on fleek,” contestants are challenged to make dishes that are on point with the latest food trends. It is a perfect episode for Hendrix whose personal style, culinary perspective, and youthful outlook shatters all expectations of the “traditional grandma.” Up for grabs in the kitchen battle is $10,000 and Hendrix and her staunch competitors battle mixing bowl to stove top in intense elimination rounds that tests their cooking chops, creativity and nerves. With 45 minutes or less in each elimination round, here’s the challenge rundown: Round One – four contestants make an afterschool snack featuring each of their grandkids’ favorite ingredients. Round Two – three contestants make spicy fried chicken and grits using quick grits. Round Three – the final two contestants battle for $10,000 and make a savory dish that looks like a dessert. She will be judged by a panel of tastemakers, including former NFL player and Food Network star Eddie Jackson; Lifestyle expert and POPSUGAR.com Reporter and Producer Brandi Milloy; and Food Network Star, Celebrity Chef and Television personality Jamika Pessoa.
On being chosen as final contestant to represent Los Angeles, “I received an open casting notice via email from the Black Business Association of Los Angeles (BBA) and Food Network, I responded to it and read what they were looking for, I didn’t think I would get a call back or be of any interest. It took a few days for them to get back to me and it caught me off guard. They said they liked my profile and that they were interested in putting me into the next round of screening which was a skype interview, they ended up liking me, and recruited me for a final screening with the Food Network producer and food technician where I had to cook a pasta dish and a pair of tarts. I had to show that I could cook, and then I got the call that I was chosen as one of the final contestants for the show.”
Hendrix being chosen as contestant allows her to showcase her talent on a new platform. “It is exciting, I get to expose my style of cooking and my blog, but I also get to show how I am connected to my community and that’s why this is so exciting. It is not just about me, but it’s about a village that I represent in Los Angeles.”
As far as her strategy to win the “Glam-mas Showdown,” competition, she draws upon her cooking skills and abilities to create something that is trendy, hot and a novelty. “This is an episode where we had to be “on fleek,” so to speak, “on point.” In each challenge, I kept that in the back of my mind what could I do that is “on point” and “on fleek” to separate myself from the rest of the grandmas.” From her culinary style to the food blog, Hendrix elevates everyday cuisine, so it doesn’t feel mundane, “for me that’s kind of a “on fleek” approach to food.”
“There was a serious adrenaline rush, because we had 45 minutes or less to create a dish with very specific instructions with an array of ingredients to choose from, and we had to deliver what they asked for. It is nerve racking for cooks to put a meal on the table in 30 minutes, but to do it with cameras in a strange kitchen where you don’t know how things work or where things are in the pantry is bit intense,” she admits. “There were nerves, a sense of panic and urgency, however for me, I love being in the kitchen, I was like ‘let’s do it,’ my whole attitude was ‘bring it, because I got this.’”
“I have been cooking since I was a very young girl in grade school, I was raised in the San Fernando Valley in Pacoima,” Hendrix said. She recalls preparing dinner for her mother with her siblings. “My mom worked the day shift and my dad worked swing shift, so when I got old enough to stand in front of a stove, I would come home from school and my dad would say, ‘you’re going to start dinner for your mom.’ Back in the day we were latch key kids, there was about an hour that we were home alone. I was the oldest making meatloaf and cutting potatoes, finishing dinner before she came home. I’ve been cooking all of my life, I come from a long line of cooks, my father taught me how to cut a chicken.
“My family is from the south and cooking is something that takes skill and tenacity…”
Although Hendrix grew up in the kitchen, she has always seen the act itself as traditional.
“I aspired to do something that was non-traditional, I wanted to break the mold,” she explained.
“However, cooking was always gnawing at me and I did everything I could not to take the traditional route. When I did the Taste of Soul Cookbook with Danny Bakewell, I started interviewing chefs, cooks and restaurants owners to talk to them about their food journey. The whole process of writing about people behind the food is what motivated me. I thought well I’m a closet cooker, I’m coming out.”
Hendrix is a veteran journalist and food maven who is not new to having the spotlight on her. Being a journalist, a food blogger, columnist, author and much more, COTG is another milestone for her. Her column Veronica’s View covered a myriad of social and political issues and appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper and other online outlets for 12 years. Today her widely read blog Collard Greens and Caviar (collardgreensandcaviar.com) features food stories and recipes of those behind the food, and has featured chefs, radio personalities, home cooks and her own personal foray into the kitchen.
She is a former Los Angeles Sentinel news reporter and continues to have a long standing relationship with the historical newspaper. She credits writing for the cookbook as her inspiration.
“I have a close relationship with the Sentinel, I talked about that during my interview process,” Hendrix said.
I underscored to them how important my relationship is with the Sentinel and how they are the organization that encouraged me to get back to what I love doing, and its writing about food.
Working on the TOS Cookbook was a game changer for her career and was the brainchild behind Collard Greens and Caviar. Due to her passion for creating narratives around food, she decided on a range of topics, from a local guy that works at the fish market, the fancy French restaurant to why food matters. Following this plan, she discovered she was going back to her roots, “collard greens are my roots and caviar is like my aspiration.”
“I’m building this brand of being a spokesperson for home cooking, I think it is important. Fifty percent of all calories consumed are at home. What are the qualities of those calories that we are consuming? I’m committed to improving the quality of home cooked meals and making it accessible for them to do. I want people to take control of what they cook and eat.”
“I’ve learned I’m a fearless cook, that is my tag on my blog, ‘Cook Fearless, Eat Well.’ I personify that, when you see the show and the risk that I took, you’re going to be blown away.”
She explains that she is not afraid to fail.
“I have thrown a lot of food away in my kitchen, I’ve had a lot of mistakes and those mistakes have made me a success. I’ve learned that I’m extremely competitive. Being in the food culture, an expert, journalist and blogger is my full time passion, it’s my identity and I embrace it.”
Be sure to tune in see the Los Angeles’ hometown favorite in action on the Clash of the Grandmas Show on Sunday, December 11 at 10:00 p.m.
Visit collardgreensandcaviar.com and follow her on Instagram @collardgreenscaviar, Twitter @collardscaviar @vhend, and on Facebook at Collard Greens and Caviar to stay up-to-date with