When Cooking and Comedy Collide by Kelly Zemnickis

We have the multi-talented Kelly Zemnickis joining us today to discuss how she has combined her love of creating delicious food with dishing out loads of laughs. Check out this article and then hop on over to her podcast It’ll Be Fine: a Baking Show.

I have been a foodie all my life, long before I would ever hear that word, food has been my thing. I love ALL of it. I have a memory of being a kid in Montreal, in the kitchen and tossing pasta and butter into a pan, giving it a stir and presenting it to my parents. I remember my dad “taking a bite” and proclaiming it’s deliciousness.  For whatever the reason, that’s just imprinted on my brain. Or the times my brother Kevin and I, or my childhood best friend Alison and I would bake cookies… I can still taste the raw dough which brought me such comfort and bliss, and which continues to be my go-to if my heart is broken.  Our brain might be faulty at times, but food does this amazing thing of reminding us of a trip, or celebration or the last time you saw someone you love.

But food also brings people together, gets you sharing stories as you break bread, and if you’re in the kitchen together on a mission to make something delicious… it’s this amazing adventure, you’re trusting each other, even if you don’t know each other that well. Which is what I love about doing It’ll Be Fine: A Baking Show. So far, I’ve had fellow comics on the show and dear friends… writers, producers… and it’s this wonderful way of getting to know them better. If it’s been a dear friend, we’ve reminisced over where our friendship has taken us. If it’s someone I don’t know that well, it’s this chance to find out something new and I have to say, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to know how many stand-ups have been to culinary school or just love to be in the kitchen overall !! And together we make these incredible dishes, and filling our bellies with good food. I do these little happy dances as we’re creating our dishes, it’s pure joy to make something and make something that I get to eat!

Kelly bravely invites Darcia (one half of Black Sheep Comedy) to destroy her kitchen.

If I get a chance to do so, I will be hosting a dinner party; as much as it stresses the crap out of me, the thought of bringing together people over a shared meal? I’m in. Bring on the food allergies, too. Gives me a challenge and helps me discover a new food! I can remember my grandparents Karl & Elisa hosting dinner parties every weekend at their home outside of Montreal, I can remember the food and drink and impromptu concerts as the guitars came out and the harmonicas passed around. My grandfather Karl died when I was pretty young, but he left me with these amazing food memories. Which I’ve clearly carried with me.  I have such a passion and a joy for food because it helps you focus on what matters… you’re with friends, you’re sharing stories, you’re making new memories. You’re celebrating life, which is far too short and passes too quickly. And those memories of afternoons at my grandparents’ house are like a warm hug.

When I was a kid, I plunked myself in front of the TV to watch a cooking show on CBC called ‘The Urban Peasant’- hosted by a charming British fellow named James Barber. He reminded me of my papa Arthur, who was also kind and charming and just loved being in the kitchen. I’d sit with pen and paper and make note of recipes I loved (no Google back then!), or I’d wait for the calendars the newspapers put out and hope it was a calendar filled with food recipes. I started to bring those dishes to parties when I was in sixth grade, because that’s what your 12 year old needed at his pool party… Kelly’s homemade pies! But what I remember the most about watching that show? Well, as I got older I realized Mr. Barber might have had a drinking problem… BUT… he always encouraged his viewers to “use what you’ve got”. So he taught me the value of finding an alternate, using what you had and making it work.

That belief that it will be alright in the end, it’ll still be delicious is the thesis of my baking show. You may not have exactly what’s called for but you will figure it out!! Life may not be going exactly as we plan, but we figure it out- we change course. We adapt.

I started in stand-up in my late 30s, getting the gumption to do it through a job waitressing… food again, being a major influence in my life! But what I’ve done in the past four years? I’m so proud of myself, genuinely proud and celebrate the small victories. To do something that I love to do? What a gift! I spent YEARS working in an industry that caused me stress, grief and anxiety… but I always found comfort and joy in my kitchen. I’d come home from 17+ hours on set and bake or cook… finding my moment of Zen in a new recipe. As a kid I knew being in a kitchen brought me joy, and that never left me. It’s in my DNA.  As was/is my love of comedy… it just took a bit of time to rise. Just like any oven, sometimes you need a bit more time with one than with the other! So now, to have folks over and sharing our creations on the internets… I love how we’re throwing positivity out there one yummy bite at a time.  Because the world needs more love, more laughter and definitely more good eats.  


Kelly Zemnickis is a Toronto-based / Montreal-born stand-up comic, writer & producer. She began her comedy career as a lighting/sound tech back in the mid 1990s, but only started her stand-up career at the tender age of 37 and has since become a regular on the stages of Toronto, Montreal and New York City! Kelly is also a contributor to the online publications Future Female Magazine, Unwritten and has written for Hello Giggles. Her documentary No Responders Left Behind (co-produced with Paradox Pictures), highlights the increasing and troubling health issues of 9/11 first responders and is currently in post-production. Kelly has been spotted talking gossip on the webseries TMZ Live and just feels ridiculously lucky that she gets to do all these things.Follow her on Instagram: thelatvianfoodie OR on Twitter @AijaGreen

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