Christine Fiorentino is a woman on the verge. This Hoboken resident is a mom, a home cook, and a blogger who shares recipes and wellness tips on her blog, Three Birds One Stove. She was recently selected to participate on The Julia Child Challenge show, airing on Food Network and Discovery Plus, where she will represent Hudson County with her cooking skills. Hoboken Girl had the chance to talk to Christine to talk about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, her life in Hoboken, and her journey. Read on to learn more about Christine, her life as a cook, and some details about the show.
(Photo credit: Food Network)
Hoboken Girl: Tell us about yourself and your career journey.
Christine Fiorentino: I’m a wife to the best guy and a mama to the sweetest little girl, Cecily. I’m the creator of the blog and Instagram handle, Three Birds One Stove, where I share content with a focus on cooking and recipes, family, and kitchen and wellness tips. I’m fearless in that I’ve never been afraid to march to the beat of my own drum or write my own rules. I’m a career changer.
I went from being a seasoned teacher to a 32-year-old, pregnant intern because I knew in my heart that whatever it took, I needed to pursue my passion for cooking and food media full-time. I’m a Reiki II practitioner, empath, and total ambivert. I firmly believe that manifestation and gratitude play an empowering role in life and that the energy you project is what the universe sends back. The kitchen is the heart of my home, and cooking is how I express my love and creativity. I just want to cook, create, laugh, and have a good time with good people, or by myself, depending on the day (#ambivert).
HG: How long have you lived in Hoboken and what brought you to the area?
CF: My father is Hoboken born and raised and I have family and lifelong friends here, so I’ve been in town all my life. One of my apartments was even in my Grandma’s basement on 3rd and Bloomfield. I knew in college that I wanted to move back here, which is what I did after graduating. Hoboken has a special and unique balance of cozy small-town charm and booming city energy. I’ve always said that I love going into the city, but I love coming home to Hoboken.
I’m so excited to be joining the Montclair community. I’m going to miss city living, but like many people, we’re ready for more space and a new adventure. We wanted quick and easy access to Manhattan and to hold on to some of that city energy, and it’s always been extremely important that we raise our family in a community rich in diversity and culture. Montclair offers all of this, so it’s always been at the top of the list. I’m happy that we didn’t give up our search in this competitive market.
HG: Tell us about your passion for cooking and what inspired it.
CF: I fell in love with cooking at three years old, when I stood on a chair beside my mother and she taught me to make scrambled eggs. The transformation of this one simple ingredient fascinated me, and I was hooked. I find a sense of magic and sensuality in the fact that cooking can comfort, unify, and connect us across space and time, and that with just a few fresh, quality ingredients, you can create something absolutely delicious and full of flavor.
I come from a long line of amazing home cooks and my mother-in-law is a fantastic cook too, so I’m really lucky to be constantly surrounded by opportunities to learn and explore in the kitchen, and now I share this with my own daughter. She loves to cook – it’s the most fun.
HG: What are your three favorite easy-to-make recipes?
CF: 1. Parisian Breakfast for Dinner – Scrambled eggs or omelets, mixed greens tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, pan-fried sourdough bread (usually from Choc-o-Pain) with butter and flaky salt, and maybe a bowl of fresh berries.
2. Chopped Night – These meals are great when you’re trying to empty out your freezer, finish your weekly produce, and minimize dishes. I see what we have in our fridge, freezer, and pantry and create a one or two-pan meal. Some examples are sheet pan meals like fish or chicken with herbed potatoes and charred broccoli – a shrimp and noodle stir fry made with teriyaki sauce and tons of fresh herbs and vegetables – or a stovetop egg bake in which I sauté vegetables and ground turkey or pancetta, and then crack a few eggs on top in the last few minutes, covering the pan until the eggs are cooked through. I just serve it right in the pan. Here’s an example. You can find tons of these quick recipe tips on my blog and in my Instagram highlights.
3. Pizza (and Martini) Friday – This is a weekly tradition I grew up with, and I’ve carried it on with my own family. Every Friday we have homemade pizzas and a big salad. I pick up the dough from a neighborhood pizzeria because it’s way better than supermarket dough and I like to shop local. Imposto’s is my current go-to dough. Pizza Friday is quick and easy, fun for the family, and you can get creative with your weekly toppings and salad combos. One of the easiest salads to make (and my all-time fave) is a Wedge – iceberg cut into quarters, bacon, cherry tomatoes, pan-toasted nuts, crumbled blue cheese, and blue cheese dressing. Cecily and I cook, and my husband is in charge of shaking up the martinis. Teamwork, dream work.
HG: What does a typical day look like for you?
CF: I’m a morning workout person, so most days I wake up around 5:30AM to work out before the hustle and bustle of the day. I try to meditate or do some reiki healing and journal for at least 10 minutes before my daughter wakes up, as well. I drop her off at daycare, pick up any ingredients I may need that day, and then come home where I work remotely. I drink warm water with lemon and have coffee while I get organized, sorting out my to-do list and going through emails. My workday may include meetings, connecting with brands, working on recipe development, shooting content and writing for my blog, and any other projects I may have going on.
I love that my job is never the same day twice, but staying organized is key. I try my best to take a midday break to just stretch and ideally take a short walk, and then prep dinner before picking up my daughter so we can just be together once we’re all home. Sometimes what we eat may be whatever recipes I tested that day. Then my husband and I double team bath, bottle, and bed, and after Cecily goes to bed we chill with some TV and maybe a glass of wine while we catch up about our days. I try to unplug and read before bed to calm my now spinning mind and get ready to do it all again tomorrow.
HG: So you’re a contestant on the new show The Julia Child Challenge airing on Food Network and Discovery Plus, how did that come about?
CF: I will never, ever forget this moment. I was standing in my kitchen when I noticed a DM on Instagram from a casting associate that said she was casting for a new series and looking for passionate, experienced home cooks who love Julia Child. She noticed my Instagram and thought I might be a good fit. I thought it was a scam or bot at first since the description of the show was just too perfect for me. Within a couple of hours, we were on the phone discussing the show, myself, and my story.
At the end of the call, she said this was actually the first round of interviews and that I would be moving on. I remember hanging up the phone, staring blankly at my husband, and just saying, “Is this happening?” It took off in a whirlwind from there. We’ve actually become really good friends. I call her my Judith Jones and she calls me her Julia Child. When I asked her on that first call how she found me, she replied, “Because I’m good at my job and I don’t care how many followers people have, I care about their talent. You have talent.” This is an important reminder for anyone reading this because it goes to show that your follower count doesn’t necessarily mean a thing – just be authentic and do what you love, and your passion will stand out.
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HG: Tell us about the show and what viewers can expect from the competition.
CF: The Julia Child Challenge is the first-ever competition series dedicated to all things Julia Child. Based on the legacy of Child, the series will see eight top-level home cooks and Julia Child superfans compete in high-stakes culinary challenges for a life-changing grand prize.
Viewers can expect delicious food, tons of creativity, an ongoing panel of amazing guest judges, and to feel transported to Julia’s kitchen as we share our personal journeys and experiences, personalities, cultures and traditions, and connections to Julia through the greatest unifier of all – cooking.
(Photo credit: Food Network)
HG: Where were you + what was your reaction when you found out that you were chosen to be a contestant?
CF: I had been through six or seven back-to-back rounds of intense interviews, including everything from general video meetings to project-based rounds that required us to write recipes, record ourselves on camera, and more. This is Julia Child, and I love that the directors were respecting that. They weren’t going to settle on who was selected for this show, and they wouldn’t stop until they were absolutely sure they found the right people to honor her legacy. To be totally honest, I had been waiting by the phone at this point, hoping to get the call.
I’ve always known food television is my dream, and I just knew in my heart that I was meant to be a part of this show. I was at my desk working and had an incoming call from California. I answered and it was a girl from the production company. She said, “Hi Christine, I’m calling to let you know that the network absolutely loved you and they’d love for you to be on this show!” I’m pretty sure I jumped up and screamed. Then I FaceTimed my mom and we both cried happy tears. Julia had been in the kitchen with us forever, and now I was going to be in hers. It was a beautiful and emotional full-circle moment.
HG: What has been the most exciting and challenging part of being a contestant?
CF: Julia’s kitchen is truly brought to life in this show. I felt like I’d been transported into her home, with her iconic pegboard, bowls of Goldfish (one of her favorite snacks and a go-to dinner party appetizer of hers), the side door where she’d warmly greet guests as they walked into her home, and so many details that viewers will notice as they watch.
Some challenges included using no oven mitts, only kitchen towels like Julia used, and working to create elaborate, beautiful, technique-driven family-style dishes that may normally take all day long, but on a major time crunch. Home cooks tend to take their time making love to the food, so it was a bit outside my comfort zone, but I like it there. It was very empowering. I can honestly say everything was exciting, even the challenging parts.
HG: What was it like working with the celebrity judges on the show?
CF: There was certainly a bit of fangirling at first. We didn’t have a clue who’d be walking on set each day or who would be hosting, so the shock factor is 100% genuine. These are people I’ve looked up to and followed for many, many years, and some of them even knew Julia Child personally, so to be standing in front of them, cooking for them, learning from them, and then sitting to enjoy a family-style meal with them felt a bit surreal. But every single person was incredibly kind, cool, and down to earth, so after a few minutes, I felt like I was hanging out in the kitchen with new friends who also love Julia and cooking.
HG: What’s next post-show?
CF: Food television is my main goal and dream, and what I’ve always felt called to. Being on this show really affirmed it, and so I plan to continue pursuing my career in food media. The passion, excitement, and joy that I feel when the camera turns on and I’m connecting to others through food and cooking is like nothing else. Food is our great unifier. I’ve had a series concept in mind for a long time, so I’m excited about seeing what could happen with that.
Whether it’s by way of television or a different digital platform, I know this is the space I’m meant to be in. Other plans include working on a cookbook proposal and getting involved with organizations that are devoted to ending child hunger and inspiring kids to have fun in the kitchen. As a mother and former teacher, helping women and children is very important to me.
HG: What advice would you give to those who want to pursue their passions full-time?
CF: Build a genuine and supportive network and surround yourself with positive people who applaud your passion and success. Seek out mentors in your industry, do freelance work in your area, take courses and workshops to improve your skills, reach out to people non-stop in your industry and express your desire to learn and grow through as many opportunities as possible, whether it’s a work project or grabbing coffee to gain some knowledge.
For every 50 outreach emails you send, you may only get one or two responses, and sometimes none. Don’t give up. Be persistent and show up every single day. Express gratitude towards the people who take time and a chance on you. A lot of days will feel like an uphill journey, but I truly believe that with a commitment to passion, hard work, and persistence, success is inevitable. There’s a special spark that energizes your work ethic when you wake up each day feeling excited and passionate about what you do.
Also, fear is totally normal, and can actually be a driving force when acknowledged from a certain perspective. Try not to fear failure or think of all the reasons something may not work out. Instead, imagine not taking a chance and then having to look back forever, wondering what would have happened if you bet on yourself and just took that leap. If it doesn’t work out, you can always go back and regroup. Pivoting isn’t quitting, it’s a sign of evolution and growth. But just try, because the one thing you can’t get back is time.
HG: Where do you like to shop locally in Hoboken or Jersey City?
CF: Some of my go-to spots are Washington General Store, the Co., Sobsey’s Produce, Organic Basic Food, Kanibal + Co, Little City Books, Fiore’s, Van Hook Cheese + Grocery, and if there is a farmers market or arts festival event taking place, I’m there. It’s probably not surprising that I get more excited about shopping for quality ingredients and kitchen/home/wellness items than I do for clothes.
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HG: What is your favorite thing to do in Hudson County?
CF: There are many, but my absolute favorite thing to do is our weekly Saturday family ritual during farmers’ market season. I walk with my daughter to the Hoboken Uptown Farmers Market. Once she gets her hands on her routine Choc-O-Pain croissant and donut, we shop fresh produce for the week. My husband meets us there, and we take our time making our way back home along the river, stopping at parks and playgrounds, maybe grabbing lunch, and just enjoying some fresh air and weekend downtime together as a family in our beautiful little city.
HG: Tell us about a business in the area you admire.
CF: MOJO Coffee is making moves! I met Jess back in 2018 when I was hired to do some digital content work for Zack’s Oak Bar + Restaurant (Jess’ family owns it and they are so lovely). I admire Jess for taking the knowledge learned there and applying it to create a business of her own. Now she’s getting ready to open her second MOJO location. I love seeing women bring their vision and dream to fruition, and the way female-owned businesses in the area support one another is really special.
HG: What is your favorite outdoor place to spend time in Hoboken or Jersey City?
CF: Anywhere on the river. I love being near the water – my husband even proposed on a boat near Liberty State Park and planned a surprise after-party at Liberty House. On nice days, Cecily and I may grab some lunch and then go have a picnic on Pier A. On our weekend family walks in the spring and summer, we’ll often pop into Pier 13 for a drink and some snacks from the food trucks. The vibe is great there. We can just hang out and Cecily can run around and play with other kids.
HG: What is your favorite place to work out in Hudson County?
CF: I was a devoted Bar Method Hoboken client for years before it closed, and I’m a member at Crunch. The environment is motivating and the classes are great there. I’m also a runner, and there’s nothing like a jog along the Hoboken waterfront. You just can’t beat the view and the breeze. If you haven’t done a sunrise run along the piers here in town, it’s a beautiful and energizing way to begin your day.
HG: Where do you go out with friends in the area?
CF: There are so many great places, I could go on and on. Whenever my husband and I get a chance for a date night, we like to start at the Halifax bar at the W where the dirty martini with blue cheese olives is a must. Some of my favorite spots for dinner are Dino + Harry’s, Grand Vin, Sorellina, Razza, and 15 Fox Place. Pilsener Haus + Biergarten is great for family and friends Sunday Funday. For family breakfast, you can’t beat Turning Point, and if you’re looking to add mimosas to the mix, Elysian Cafe, City Bistro, La Bouche, Anthony David’s, and Union Hall have always been warm and welcoming to those with littles.
HG: What is something you think needs to come to Hoboken or Jersey City?
CF: Whenever we walk by the location where The Dubliner used to be, my husband and I always say how fun it would be to have a big old-fashioned family-friendly arcade right here in Hoboken. We think that’s the perfect location with its multiple floors, pretty old brick, big windows, rooftop, and the waterfront just steps away. You could fit tons of games, a prize counter, a pop-up area for local businesses to be featured, and a casual rooftop bar and restaurant so the entire family can enjoy the experience. Can you tell we’ve really thought this through? If it ever happens, we’d love a shoutout and unlimited Skee-Ball access.
Keep up with Christine and her journey on The Julia Child Challenge on Instagram.