"He asked me to have a cigarette in the piazza. We ended up talking for three hours and came back to the party as changed people," Mazar says of meeting Corcos at a mutual friend's party in Florence more than 15 years ago. "I spent the rest of my summer with him in Europe, and he started cooking for me. That really sealed the deal. I knew I wasn't going to say goodbye to him."
Mazar and Corcos's fairy-tale romance may sound familiar, but their union was anything but conventional. Corcos was a motorcycle-riding Tuscan musician with a flair for cooking, and Mazar a successful Brooklyn-born actress known today for her roles in Goodfellas and Entourage, and her work as Madonna's makeup artist. After Corcos left Italy behind and the two traveled back to L.A., they got married, bought a house and were pregnant with their first daughter within a year.
Today, they've moved their family back to Mazar's old neighborhood, Brooklyn. While Mazar is still acting, Corcos grows his own career as a chef and shop owner. Still, they couldn't be more in sync. The meshing of Mazar's high-energy personality and New York upbringing with Corcos's laid-back, patient Italian heritage comes naturally, and it's helped define the life they lead. (See their favorite product picks below.)
With Corcos operating their Park Slope café and restaurant and Mazar juggling a busy shooting schedule for TV Land's Younger, pulling it all off isn't always easy. "We always have each others' backs," Corcos explains. "If one of us has to be away for a while, we're always going to be covered. It's about balance."
Nowhere is that balance more evident than in their work together on Extra Virgin, the James Beard Award-winning series they created for Cooking Channel. The show, which Mazar describes as a docu-soap, chronicles their lives in L.A. and New York over six seasons, focusing on food, comedy and family.
Playing on their own strengths as a TV veteran and an experienced cook, respectively, Mazar took control of writing and executing, while Corcos cooked signature Italian dishes. Together, they created the format for a cooking show that had never been done before: something far from reality TV, with an honesty and authenticity only they could have produced.
"There's a poetry in the story we want to tell," Mazar says, "and Gabriele helped us get there with a lot of patience and compromise. I'm a high-energy person who always wanted to take control, and he's an Italian who takes too long to get to the point. We make a great team."
As for that Beard Award this year?
Corcos says, "Ultimately, the secret is that the project was born out of love. We started out in a very humble way: We just wanted to spend time in the kitchen together."
Although Extra Virgin's run has come to an end, the two still find plenty of time to cook together. And though their daughter's school schedule prevents them from traveling to Italy as often as they'd like, they work hard to bring pieces of Italian culture back to Brooklyn with them.
As Corcos describes it, "There's the drive of urban life, of never stopping, and living to work and to move forward, and then there's the Italian way: the joy of a fireplace, a roof over your head and a few fields where you can pick your lettuce. The combination is a lifestyle we've been able to maintain together over the years."
From the trusty Bialetti coffee pot that wakes them up each morning to the go-to olive oil that's almost as good as Mama's homemade stuff, Corcos and Mazar keep Italy close at heart, even from afar in Brooklyn. At his shop, Corcos cooks family dishes that define his heritage, striving to find the opportunity to bring business back to his Italian home.
Frankly, we can't wait to visit.
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