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POP INTERVIEW: Mary Rolph Lamontagne Explains Food Waste and Why Celebs Care

Since 2005, Chef Mary Rolph Lamontagne has worked with food waste prevention in South Africa. Catch her here on before her upcoming USA media blitz promoting her book, EATS, as we quiz her on what social activism means for celebrities…and if it is real.



Every flip of the channel, some celebrity promises to “give back to the community.” Little is explained about more than the sound byte. How does one prevent food waste? What does food waste mean? What does Angelina Jolie do for charity? You know you wondered about it.

Since 2005, Chef Mary Rolph Lamontagne has worked with food waste prevention in South Africa. Catch her here on before her upcoming USA media blitz promoting her book, EATS, as we quiz her on what social activism means for celebrities…and if it is real.

Why do so many celebrities act like they care about the environment? I feel it’s a weird trend. Many are genuine but some make you want to rip out your hair with their artificial view. Why is this in style?
I think that there are lots of celebrities that have joined the environmental train because they truly believe in the cause that they support. Perhaps having a new family, a tragedy or finally enough star power to make a difference propels them to get involved. If celebrities buy into any cause by creating foundations, putting their personal money into the charity and donating their time and energy then they are truly genuine and I believe that at a certain point the public can tell the difference between a genuine person and a fake….even in Hollywood it never pays to lie! The fake ones slowly go by the wayside or eventually self-combust.

One of the basic rules of marketing is that for something, or someone to stay relevant, they need to follow the trends. Perhaps environmentalism has become a hip trend to promote but I don’t think any value is added by questioning people’s motives. At the end of the day I am an optimist and like to look at the good that comes out of something like protecting the environment becoming a ‘cool’ trend to follow.

Mary in a nest

Who in Hollywood seems to be most genuine about the environment and food waste awareness?
Food waste is not as glamorous as some of the other environmental causes out there so it unfortunately has not gotten as much attention as the others but there are still some great advocates out there. Cheryl Crow and Drake for instance are great examples of celebrities working towards reducing waste. They have both been known to use biodiesel, recycle, buy local and use compostable tableware for themselves and their crews.

Another great advocate of waste reduction is Mayor Bloomberg. Although not actually in Hollywood his name does carry a certain weight. He has created a big buzz with his Food Waste Challenge, which is why I stopped by NYC over the summer to see how things are going at the grass roots level. I camped out with Inside Edition in front of some compost heaps and met with some real people coming to dump what they thought was trash. Mayor Bloomberg’s initiative has had a slow start in terms of touching the general public but I am hopeful that as time passes and the project gains traction more celebrities will recognize the importance of reducing waste and help raise awareness.

The Feed bag does well with Saks clientele and the fashion set of celebrities. Everyone is snapped out on errands wearing the purse! Is this a good way to help food waste prevention and food availability overseas, or is it a gimmick?
I think there is a big difference between food availability and food waste prevention. North Americans have not yet joined the dots about food security and food waste. The Feed bag is a great concept that has helped to feed many people and children around the world, including here in the US. Celebrity endorsement of products is hardly a new concept so I am hesitant to call this a gimmick. The bags are trendy and people get to sleep better knowing that by doing something so small as buying and using one bag, they are working towards making the world a better place. Perhaps it is time we find a way to make reducing food waste trendy and endorsable!

Why is Angelina Jolie a powerful role model in social awareness in Africa? Whenever I ask anyone about socially concerned people, they skip world leaders and go right to her. Why would an actress’ words resonate more than a president’s support?
The public yearns for authenticity and although politics are an integral part of our every day lives, politics and hidden agendas often go hand in hand in people’s minds. Angelina Jolie however has proven otherwise with her track record. She actually lived in Namibia, created a foundation and has worked tirelessly with the UN over the years. Angelina Jolie has learnt how to translate her celebrity status into a commodity and has applied it to the causes she is passionate about. For example, having People magazine donate $500,000.00 to charity to get the rights to photograph her pregnant was a brilliant move. A win win for everyone.


Does most of the money at any of these famous causes really go to helping people? How can people weed out good charities from scams?
Transparency is key here so it is up to the donor to do the proper due diligence on a charity and weed out the scams from the honest charities. Sometimes when we see a natural disaster either at home or abroad, we want to help by making an immediate donation to have immediate gratification but sometimes, as we saw in Haiti, those funds were not properly spent because there was not the proper infrastructure in place to deal with the influx of money. I truly believe that finding the best group with a proven track record is the best solution. Do a little research and often that will be more effective than quickly donating for instant gratification.

For me, it is about “I am giving time rather than just money.” I learned about a charity in Rwanda called Gardens for Health ( when I was visiting Rwanda a few years ago. It is a charity that was created by 3 then university students, back in 2007, to reduce the level of malnutrition in the country through the prescription of gardens rather than pills. Last year, I had the chance to visit the charity in both Rwanda and Boston and I was impressed with what I saw. This year, in mid-November, I will be going to Rwanda to visit the NGO and actually cook with the mamas to teach them how to preserve rather than possibly loose the produce they have learned to grow to feed their families.

People often forget that time can be just as valuable as money for many of these charitable organizations. It is nice to find celebrities who understand how valuable their time is and put it to good use. You know that they are truly committed if they are using their checkbooks as well as their personal time to make a difference.

Why is Western culture obsessed with food: either eating too little and dieting or Paula Deen type splurging? What are we misunderstanding about food waste and our entire relationship with food?
There are so many angles we can take when looking at our food problems that it is hard to decide where to start. Sadly, I think that we have moved so far away from food feeding our body and soul that it is not surprising that there is a problem of obesity, dieting and so much more. We all want a quick fix because we are all so busy that fast food, packaged prepared food, unhealthy growing conditions, big business, globalization, lack of education and so much more are all responsible for our present situation.

Since most people have no idea where their food comes from, it is not surprising that there is no interest in where it goes after it has been thrown out. There is a new trend to educate children about food, teaching them how to grow and cook their treasures. The renegade Lunch Lady, chef Ann Cooper ( and Chef Alice Waters, who started the Edible Schoolyard Project ( should be credited for getting governments to realize that all levels of society should have a right to healthy food. States such as Maine and Delaware are just two of many that are now offering food stamps that are redeemable in farmers’ markets. School cafeterias are offering healthier choices and there is a growing trend with consumers wanting to know where their food is coming from. 1 out of 6 Americans have no idea where their next meal will come from. Soup kitchens are filled to capacity and yet supermarkets are rejecting ugly produce and fields are rotting away with fruits and vegetables that could not find a way to market. The system is clearly broken and a quick fix won’t solve it. Once we all start to view our food differently we can start to appreciate it. Only then will real solutions begin.

How can we prevent food waste here and abroad?
Food waste is a problem that is rampant at all levels from farming to distribution to markets to restaurants to our own homes. I think we need to concentrate on what we can control. For the average person, this means starting in our own kitchens. There is no need for this process to be overwhelming so long as people start out small, working their way up to some bigger steps in time.

Reducing waste starts with realizing that we are creating too much waste. You need to ask yourself, how much do you really throw out a week? Does it go in the bin or do you try to recycle and compost. Would you go that extra mile and set up a compost bin in your backyard or on your balcony. Would you walk those extra few blocks to leave a bag of compost in a bin? If the answer is no, then why not start with” what can I not throw out this week?”. Perhaps repurpose the braised carrots into a soup or take that extra ½ cup of wine and freeze it up in an ice cube tray to use in future sauces. Making one change, once a week is like collecting drops of water in a glass. In the beginning it does not look like much but as with everything, this too will grow to make a difference.

Once one gets into the swing of things, that little difference rolls into another until your habits take a change for the better. Doing, then sharing with other,s is the first step to being part of a greater good. I believe that this is the way to influence change and that is why I wrote my books EATS: enjoy all the seconds.

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What’s Brian Tryin’? The Crispy Sandwich Maker by Apod!



This weekend I tried out a new product that’s been crowdsourcing on IndieGogo. (The link is here.)

It’s called a Crispy Sandwich Maker, made by Apod.

I always love trying out a new gadget, so it was fun to see how this one would play out.  What makes this one a bit different than most sandwich makers is that this only requires just one single slice of bread to make a compact, easy to eat snack that can be sweet or savory. It can be used over a gas stove flame, or, with caution, a campfire, although the design’s arm length better lends itself to a smaller flame like a home kitchen stove.

Because I love a s’more, I decided to do an interpretation of that using  nutella spread and marshmallow spread. My friend John and I were happily making these little sandwiches in the kitchen while I friends taste tested the results along the way.

While the product description says that it requires no oil, we did decide to butter the bread to give a nice brown color to the sandwich, although it could easily be done without it.

The results of the nutella and marshmallow spread crispy sandwiches were consistent and delicious. After about two minutes per side, sandwiches were golden brown and the inside filling was oozy and delicious.

Then it was on to make a savory snack in the form of a crispy ham and cheese with dijon. Again, about two minutes on each side over the flame was just enough to brown the bread and warm up the savory fillings.

This was a fun gadget to play with, and the results were delicious. All in all, everyone gave the results a thumbs up!

To be part of this indiegogo campaign, visit this link!

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Get The Look! A Buyer’s Guide To Brian Balthazar’s Philadelphia Home Redesign



As the world was forced to spend more time at home, Brian Balthazar found himself in a position where he had sold a house before the lockdown and had to find a new one.

“We sold our home with all the furniture in it, so not only did we find ourselves struggling to find a new place, once we found one we didn’t have any furniture to put in it.”

And so, Brian and partner Dennis got resourceful, turning to refurbishing and buying store floor models. They were inspired to make bold, fun choices in color and style when they started shopping around for wallpaper.

Below is the segment as it appeared on the Today Show, and further down, a rundown of where you can find the pieces or ones with a similar look!


Let’s start with the Dining Room!

Move the slider dividing the image to see all of the before or all of the after!

Brian saysThe dining room was the first space we wanted to do. I haven’t had a true dining room since I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted a big table for dinner parties! There were no tables within the price range we wanted, so we found a floor model at one of our favorite go-to stores, Arhaus. We easily saved 75 percent on this table by getting the one that they weren’t going to carry anymore. The chairs are from Wayfair.  On each side of the fireplace (not seen in the photo, but visible in the Today Show video) are two black tall lanterns flanking the fireplace. I got them at Target. I can’t currently find them on their app, but similar versions pop up every year. Get thee to Homegoods! Homegoods and Homesense (same parent company) are my go-to spots for home accessories for virtually every room in the house. You never know what you’re going to find, which is part of the fun.

But let’s focus on the real WOW element to this room – the wallpaper! This pattern is called Bellewood, by RebelWalls.   As you will soon see, I’m sort of obsessed with their patterns. To me, this room is magical with the added whimsy of this forest pattern. (They also have a more muted version with grays and even one with blues.) I also love that by hanging the paper from the chair rail up, you almost get the feeling that you’re standing on a balcony overlooking the forest. I surrounded the whole room with this paper, which I love, but you could easily add the same magical feeling by just doing one feature wall. Their website shows how it can translate to a bedroom or office. You might be intimidated by hanging wallpaper but don’t be! This pattern has so much going on that it really looks perfect when it goes up!



Brian says: The guest bedroom is on the top floor of the house, so it’s got roof lines on two sides that make it a tricky space to navigate if you’re not careful. The planning of this space alone resulted in a few bonked heads. On the upside, the wall where the bed goes is tall, so it was an obvious place to create some visual pop. Again, the wallpaper takes the spotlight.  Called “Nude Roses,” also by RebelWalls, I love this design. Floral wallpaper was ‘big’ in popularity back in the 1920s when this house was built, but the patterns at that time were smaller, repeated more often, and were often really bold in color. This interpretation is so fun to me! Gone are the small roses in favor of oversized blooms, and the bold colors are more subdued pink and gray hues, with touches of dark green and creamy whites.

While roses can inherently feel feminine, the plaid bedding (30 dollars for a queen set from Target) are a surprising complement that keeps everything from feeling a little stereotypical. The side tables are mismatched – partly because we didn’t want to go too “matchy=matchy” – but also to save some money – the one on the left side (hard to catch here) was from West Elm. Normally $199, we got it for half off as the floor model. The one on the right we found in the trash. It was perfectly fine, clearly someone had just gotten tired of it! Nothing some disinfectant can’t fix. That gave us some extra money to spend – To reduce the softeness we went with industrial lamps and edison bulbs. The lamps  are called “Ginyard,” from Wayfair. The headboard was on sale at Arhaus. The dark gray takes balances out the pink hues well. The pillows are from Target and Homegoods.

For the 360 degree view of this room, watch the Instagram reel below!  You’ll see the dresser, on sale for $599 from Arhaus, a lamp from Homegoods, and mobiles from Amazon which we fashioned into a ‘piece of art’ that keeps you from hitting your head on the angled wall opposite the bed. Watch the video to check it out!


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A post shared by Brian Balthazar (@brianbalthazar)



Brian says: The idea for the basement game room was to create a space that feels like a lounge you might find if you went out with friends. When you go into this basement it definitely feels like you’ve gone someplace unique! Believe it or not, I found out the Today Show had invited me to to record my house tour just a few days in advance, and so we turned around this spot in just THREE days! There was literally no pool table at the time, (although it had already been scheduled to come on Friday, the wallpaper came on Saturday, (as well as the floor tiles!) and by Sunday we were covered in paint and glue and drinking wine to celebrate it’s completion! I recorded the final video that Monday.

Some people might not think to take a bright basement and make it dark, but that was our first instinct. Clubs are dark and moody, and we wanted this to feel like that. We painted the walls Wrought Iron by Benjamin Moore, which is a very dark gray that seems to take on different hues based on where you paint it and the light that shines on it. We painted the ceiling black. This was Thursday night! Then Friday the pool table came. The floor tiles (“Tweed Indeed” in black by Flor) hadn’t arrived until the next day, so when they did arrive I meticulously trimmed four tiles to fit around the pool table legs so it looks like they were there the whole time. I had ordered the pool table online weeks before from and by sheer coincidence it was scheduled to arrive in time for me to shoot the redesign. This was the second time I have ordered a pool table from them (which was initially scary because you’re not even seeing it beforehand!) but it always arrives in perfect condition to your specific selections. I love that the felt jet black and keeps things dark and moody. In the time that has passed since this photo was taken, I’ve added more of the carpet tiles to make the carpeted floor area darker and bigger.

But once again, the wall mural steals the show in a marvelous way! This mural is called “A Priori” from Rebelwalls, and is inspired by The Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power, a famous fresco by Italian artist Pietro da Cortona. Fitting, because this house is Italian in style on the outside. You can’t see it from this photo but the wallpaper runs up part of the ceiling as well. It truly gives the room a wow factor when you enter it. The lamps are from Homegoods, (we’ve since added some industrial floor lamps for extra mood lighting) and the piano was something we brought with us. The bar tables are from Amazon ($72 each) and the stools we brought with us – they were discards from someone who didn’t like their original bright colors and thought they were dated! We covered them ourselves with gray plaid fabric and they’re better than they were new!


So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed the rooms and find something you like!

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Well Sh-t, Leslie Jordan Has Shared Three Videos Of Himself Dancing In One Week And They’re All Perfect



Doing much better now, Leslie.

If you’ve never believed that “good things come in small packages” then you’ve never seen Leslie Jordan’s instagram. The 4’11” actor known for his iconic roles in shows like Will & Grace and American Horror Story has recently developed a whole new fanbase who loves him for his viral Instagram videos. Usually starting each video by greeting fans with “Well shit, how y’all doing?”, viewers have grown to anticipate Jordan’s hilarious recounting of stories from his time in show biz or growing up in the south. This week, however, the Tennessee native has shared 3 videos of himself dancing within 5 days and honestly it’s precisely what we all need right now.

The first video was posted on August 12th and shows Jordan taking part of the “Git up and dance challenge” which swept the internet about a year ago. Even though he is a little late, the video is still perfection.

On August 13th, Jordan does a dance to “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from Hairspray a with special guest dance partner Katie Couric!

Finally, on August 15th, Jordan does an epic “tootsie roll” and challenges Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills star, Lisa Rinna, to do the tootsie roll herself. Of course Rinna commented with a big “ON IT ❤️😂.” Who could say no to the viral star?!?

The moral of the story here is that the world is going through some tough times right now but maybe, even for a few seconds, we could all feel better if we’d just dance it out. Thanks for the inspo Leslie Jordan!

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