When he isn’t on stage singing musical numbers without any clothes on in the hit off-Broadway production “Naked Boys Singing,” 31-year-old Michael Muñoz is cooking up a storm in his tiny Times Square studio.
Muñoz, better known in the blogosphere as The Gay Gourmet!, is celebrating the first anniversary of his food website, a pink-striped virtual space where Muñoz shares intimate details of his life alongside mouth-watering recipes. He hopes to eventually turn the blog into an over-the-top, variety-style cooking show with big musical numbers and plenty of laughs.
City Spoonful: How would you describe your website?
Muñoz: Some say I’m a little bit food enthusiast and a little bit show stopper. I’d say I’m a fearless home-trained cook and a university-trained performer that gets his wit from his sassy Brooklynite, Puerto Rican mother and the New York drag queens that raised me. I’ll let you decide.
Why did you decide to create the Gay Gourmet!?
In 2008, I came off a year-and-a-half of consistent theatre work and walked into a recession. One night, whilst being unemployed, I was watching “Inside the Actors Studio.” At the end of the episode [actress] Patricia Heaton advises young actors to create for ourselves. From that came my idea for The Gay Gourmet!The Gay Gourmet! is my idea for a variety cooking show. Think Judy Garland/Carol Burnett meets a Rachael Ray/Paula Deen type of show.
It combines my two passions cooking and musical theatre. Think about it—an educational cooking program in the old variety show style. You’ll never know who’s going to stop by, who’s going to break out into song or what’s going to happen next, but you’ll sure have a good time watching—and maybe [you’ll] even learn something.
What sets The Gay Gourmet! apart from other food blogs and websites?
My blog is more than cooking. It’s all of me and my life. There is almost nothing too personal to share. That’s why I say The Gay Gourmet! is fearless cookin’ with a side of saucy pizzazz. I’m not afraid to try things, and you never know what’s happening in my life, which certainly affects my eating.
What has been the most rewarding part of being a food blogger?
Meeting people who actually read the blog is always surprising and humbling. I obviously wanted this to be a success, but I never really considered myself [to be] a writer. The biggest compliment I receive is that people love reading the blog. The food is the extra bonus.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
Blogging is super time consuming
– especially when there is no income coming in from it. I also teach voice, am in an off-Broadway show and pick up cater waiting shifts to supplement my income. Plus being a youngish SINGLE gay guy in New York City, I have to have some sort of social life.
The other challenge is cooking in my kitchen. [It] is about two feet big—no joke. So I have to get creative when it comes to making certain things, like rolling out dough.
Why do you think food blogs are so popular these days?
People like having a go-to [source] for food inspiration or advice. Food bloggers are accessible. You can’t email Emeril [Lagasse, a celebrity chef] and say, “Yo, I f’d up my mac and cheese and don’t understand why.” But you could write [to] a food blogger.
What’s your favorite cuisine to prepare?
There is a lot of Latin influence in everything I make. Some [is] stolen from my mother and my Puerto Rican-ness and some [is] just taken from other Latin flavors that I love.
What sorts of food trends do you think we will see in 2012?
I really hope that we are going to see much more home-style cooking. [I want us to] get back to our roots and simplify dishes.
What’s next for The Gay Gourmet!?
It’s time to start taking The Gay Gourmet! to the next level and start recording episodes of my show. This is the year of The Gay Gourmet! and you’ll be seeing a lot more of me and maybe even some of my crazy character friends in the kitchen.