The gourmet doughnut has finally gotten the Bravo treatment -- or, at least, its maker has.
Waylynn Lucas is the co-owner of West Hollywood-based Fonuts, the 3rd Street doughnut shop she and Nancy Truman opened in 2011. The curly-haired pastry chef, who has worked for several big name Los Angeles restaurants and served as the executive pastry chef under Jose Andres at Bazaar, is in the midst of adding "Bravo-lebrity" to her resume as one of the stars of "Eat Drink Love."
Already finding success in the food competition genre, the network is now mixing foodie culture with its bread-and-butter formula: personal drama. The show follows five single women in the food industry -- including Lucas, a personal chef, a restaurant marketer, a publicist and a food writer. [In recipe terms, the show is ½ cup of "Top Chef" + 2 cups of "Real Housewives" (early seasons) + 2 tablespoons of "Sex and the City." It certainly has the foodie world talking.
We caught up with Lucas at Fonuts -- post-morning dance party -- to talk about the show, which now airs Thursdays. Read on to find out how her peers have responded to the show and her response to those who say it's giving a bad name to L.A.'s food scene.Why do a Bravo show? I assume you're familiar with their stuff.
No, I'm not. I don't watch a lot of TV. And I watch zero reality TV. I was approached by Brownstone Productions, which makes the show, and I had done work in the past and knew a lot of people at Magical Elves who does "Top Chef," which is obviously a Bravo thing. So, you know, my name had been floating around. And I thought about for a second about competing on "Top Chef Just Desserts" -- I’ve done a lot of stuff on TV. I was a judge on "Hell's Kitchen," I’ve done some Cooking Channel stuff and Food Network stuff when I was over at Bazaar, so a lot of people would approach me to do TV -- cooking things, competition things, judging things. I was always very picky and very selective about it just cause, for me, TV was never something that I ever wanted. And I didn't want to do anything if it would take away from my integrity as a chef because I worked really hard to get my experience.
When they approached me -- I’m the type of person who will say yes, I’ll go along with it, and have the conversations, because you only live once. I thought we would get ball rolling and see what it’s about and then I’ll make my decision. And I ended up just saying yes, and they came to film a bit here at Fonuts -- me cooking, hanging out with Nancy -- to get me on camera. It was about a year of convincing that it took me to make my decision. I was very, very, very hesitant. Very hesitant. I really wanted to know who else was going to be on the show, what it was really going to be about....
And what did they tell you?
They let me know that it was going to be everything in my life. I really, really struggled with it. I don't think I slept for that entire year trying to make the decision. Only because (a) as a business owner -- and my business is reflective of myself and as a chef in this town -- I knew that I really had everything to lose, and I also had everything to gain. So I really thought long and hard about it and I sort of came to the cliche decision that you only live once. I do have this new business, which I am so proud of, and what an amazing way to get that out into the world and have people see that.
What about Nancy -- did you consult with her about the decision, and did she have any concerns?
Nancy has to be the best business partner and friend ever known to man. She was beyond supportive. And she knows and trusts that if I believe in something, and if I decide to do something, she will no matter what support me 100%. She played devil's advocate with me and we weighed the pros and cons of everything. But ultimately she said if this is something you want to do, I’ll support you. I was beyond lucky.
Seeing how it's played out thus far, are you happy with the decision?
There’s definitely been a couple of moments where I say things and I’m like, "ohhh, yeah, I think that’s a moment where I forgot the camera was there. How nice.” But, really, all and all, I'm OK with it. You can see me dancing in the shop and joking around with Nancy and burping in her face and having fun and busting my employees’ chops. Just really holding true to who I am. I don’t really put up with a lot of BS -- I say it how it is, but I also try to be kind and loving. I think my true personality comes across. There’s obviously been some moments, and there’s obviously some people on the show that sort of paint a picture of what we do in a little less admirable of a light. That makes me sad. But really when I went into this show, and throughout the whole time, and now, it’s just sort of all I can do is keep my side of the street clean. All I can do is try to behave as a person with integrity and good work ethic -- other people are going to do what they’re going to do.
To be totally honest and frank, I can absolutely, 100% see their argument. And it makes me sad that it is that way on the show because I love the show, I love being a part of the show. But I think, unfortunately, TV is TV and there needs to be a certain amount of drama when it’s based around five women. It’s not solely based around the food industry, it’s also based on single women and dating lives and social lives, and seeing how in this industry of food and drinks, we live our lives. So, it does make me a little sad that the L.A. food scene is represented like this because I think there is so much more to it. I would just certainly hope viewers take it with a grain of salt and know that though you are getting an inside view into what goes on behind the scenes at food event and restaurants in our lives, to realize it is TV and it’s supposed to be entertaining. And it is Bravo.
There is so much more that you can’t capture on camera and you can’t really see, and you can’t really know. I made it sort of my mission to really represent Los Angeles and the food scene the best way possible, and that’s why I really wanted it to be seen and known on camera how hard I work, because everybody else in this town who works in this industry as chefs and cooks, they work that hard, if not harder. And really that was the most important thing that I wanted people to see. There’s so much passion and so much hard work and an amazing work ethic to really make it in this industry, and I feel like that’s what people don’t see, that’s what people don’t know, and you don’t get that in the other food channel shows. You don’t get that in the competition shows -- that it really is your life. It consumes you. I think this show tries to show that -- that it is our life. I mean, it’s a small world, and we’re dating each other. It’s sort of unfortunate that it comes across in kind of a catty, airhead way. But all I can do is be responsible for myself.
And I imagine there’s a lot of politics in the industry. What’s been the reaction from your peers about the show? Are they keeping their distance? Are they telling you not to bring the cameras?