In addition to co-hosting Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family, TV personality and lifestyle expert Debbie Matenopoulos has been busy readying for the launch of her new Greek-inspired skincare – and the holidays, of course.
We had the pleasure of catching up with the five-time Emmy nominee and best selling cookbook author about her hit Hallmark Channel talk show, upcoming guests, the beloved “Countdown to Christmas,” holiday traditions and much more.
You co-host Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family alongside Cameron Mathison. Who have been some of your favorite guests?
DM: We’ve had so many amazing guests! Some of my favorites have been Gwen Stefani, Michael J. Fox, Candace Cameron Bure, Billy Baldwin, Meredith Vieira, Regis Philben, Kathie Lee Gifford, Kim Cattrall, Peter Frampton, Malin Akerman, Smokey Robinson, LeAnn Rimes, Carl Weathers, Jon Voight, Paul Reiser, Lacey Chabert, Jonathan Bennett, Holly Robinson Peete, Reba McEntire, Julie Andrews, Henry Winkler. Not to mention the amazing celebrity chefs, wellness experts, and authors who are guests on a daily basis.
Who can we expect in the upcoming future?
DM: Martina McBride, Chrissy Metz, Kim Raver, Curtis Stone, Lou Gossett Jr., Katee Sackhoff, and Elizabeth Berkley. I’m also looking forward to having my dear friend, amazing fashion designer Shoshanna Gruss on as well.
Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” offers endless holiday movies. Which ones are you most looking forward to this year?
DM: USS Christmas, Christmas Waltz, A Nashville Christmas Carol, Christmas in Evergreen: Bells are Ringing, If I Only had Christmas, and Time for Me to Come Home for Christmas.
You grew up in a traditional Greek household and penned the bestselling cookbook It’s All Greek to Me. What are your go-to holiday dishes?
DM: Pomegranate Trifle (click here for the recipe), Greek-Style Macaroni and Cheese (click here for the recipe), Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts (click here for the recipe), Baklava (click here for the recipe), Cauliflower Mash (click here for the recipe), Lemon Olive Oil Cake (click here for the recipe), Hashbrown Crust Quiche (click here for the recipe), Greek Rice Pudding (click here for the recipe), Peanut Butter Sticky Buns (click here for the recipe), Spanakopita (click here for the recipe), and Strapatsatha (click here for the recipe).
What about holiday traditions?
DM: Every Christmas Eve, my sister and her family, my brother and his family, and my family all go to my parent’s house in Virginia (to the childhood house we grew up in) and have Christmas Eve dinner. After dinner, we open the presents from the family around the tree and always play one game of white elephant. We usually all stay up far too late drinking red wine and Moscow mules and watching our very favorite Christmas movie ever, Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation. Then, far too early Christmas morning, we are awoken by the kids so that we can open the presents Santa left under the tree. Then, we all gather in the kitchen to help make a yummy Christmas breakfast that consists of sticky buns, quiche, a Greek omelet called Stapatsatha, and my sister-in-law’s famous Texas Trucker Eggs. You haven’t lived until you have had Trucker Eggs. We then get dressed up in our perfect Christmas outfits and go to church. The rest of the day is spent with our door open welcoming anyone who stops by with coffee, deserts, and adult beverages.
Ikaria, your Greek-inspired skincare line, launches this month. Tell us about the line and why it was important to incorporate your heritage.
DM: I am so proud of my Greek heritage and what my people have contributed to modern society. I wanted to do something to honor my culture by sharing even more of its beauty, so I set out to create a skin care line that is all natural and made from ingredients that are found in Greece (honey, olive oil, holy basil, chamomile, mountain tea, royal jelly, bee propolis, Mediterranean sea salt, as well as so many more natural ingredients). I wanted to create something that was not only nourishing and amazing for your skin, but something that also actually worked. So, I started my research on the island of Ikaria, which has been dubbed the place where people forget to die. Ikaria happens to be one of the only five blue zones on the planet. People on Ikaria and in most of Greece live longer and healthier lives and their skin always looks great. So, I wanted to bring a product to market that represents what my people have been doing for centuries – because it works.
Have you ever visited the Hamptons?
DM: Yes, I have visited the Hamptons many times. I lived in New York City from 17-years-old to 24-years-old. I’m a big fan of wind surfing in East Hampton and I loved eating at The Palm, Lobster Roll, Nick & Toni’s, East Hampton Grill, and Carissa’s has the best baked goods in America.