Because food connects us all, Yahoo Life is serving up a heaping plateful of table talk with people who are passionate about what's on their menu in Deglazed, a series about food.
Actress and model Camille Kostek is known for hosting shows like Wipeout and Dancing with Myself, but the Is it Cake? judge says in all of her world travels, there's nothing like the pierogies her babcia (grandmother) makes.
"I thank my babcia over and over again for taking the time — sometimes months out of the year to prepare hundreds and hundreds of pierogies," says Kostek. "When we were kids, maybe we had three, but now we're going up for three rounds, so she's having to make more and more as we get older."
Kostek, the oldest of four siblings, says she cherishes memories of family meals during the holiday season, when her grandmother painstakingly crafts pierogies, a traditional Polish dumpling. "[Pierogies are] something we've grown up making with my babcia," Kostek explains. "When you're a kid, you have so much fun [cooking], but as you get older, you grow to have such an appreciation."
Kostek admits she's a bit of a snob when it comes to this delicious delicacy. "If my grandmother didn't hand-make them, I don't want them," she says. "I'm spoiled to have had a Polish woman make my food."
The 30-year-old self-proclaimed "dog mom" to adorable French bulldog Ralphie Gronkowski tells Yahoo Life her beloved grandmother once made pierogies for her classmates, as part of a special school project.
"There was a food tradition day when I was in the fifth grade and she came in with a little skillet and made pierogies in front of everybody and fed the class," she recalls. "I was like, 'You don't understand what a treat this is, that you're getting these in the middle of the year.'"
In addition to growing up around authentic Polish food from her father's side of the family, Kostek's tastes were also influenced by her mother, who grew up in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
"I grew up going to the Virgin Islands," she says. "My aunt Camille, who I am named after, still lives there in the same place my mom grew up."
A childhood in the islands instilled a love for fresh local foods, fruits and vegetables in Kostek's mother, a craving she passed along to her daughter early on. "My mom has been feeding me avocado since I was a baby — before I had teeth," Kostek says. "I grew up eating rice and beans and plantains with avocado on the side. Before avocado ever became a craze, that was one of the first foods I'd ever eaten."
Kostek still enjoys avocado, which she eats regularly alongside a classic breakfast made for her by her boyfriend, Rob Gronkowski, retired tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"My boyfriend is like the egg chef," she says. "He said he used to love waking up in college to make eggs for everybody, so I Iet him continue that great tradition by making me eggs every morning too"
Kostek's go-to egg order? "Scrambled eggs with cheese — my favorite is feta — with mashed avocado on the side. Sometimes I drizzle a little avocado oil on the eggs," she says.
Aside from her typical breakfast, Kostek, who spoke to Yahoo Life on behalf of her partnership with Rowdy Energy, shares that, while she doesn't drink a morning coffee, the energy drink has quickly become an unexpected staple for her.
Kostek says when Rowdy Energy first contacted her, she felt skeptical. But after understanding the drink's ingredients and testing the products, she wanted in. "Their [slogan] is 'drink clean, live rowdy,' and that's exactly what I'm all about," she says. "I like to bring bubbly excited energy, and having that extra boost and something that keeps me hydrated and keeps me clean, without not feeling myself — it was an instant sell for me."
While Kostek enjoys eating a clean diet, she also loves to indulge in foods like "greasy egg sandwiches" during her travels. Her philosophy on food and her relationship with what she eats is something near and dear to her heart: And it's all about balance.
"If you're going to have something you might not enjoy every day, or that you know might not be good for you — if you're going to have it, enjoy it," she says. "Don't talk bad about it. Don't feel bad about it. Really enjoy that piece of ice cream cake or ice cream sundae, that pizza, that sandwich."
"I really do believe food has a chemical reaction [in your body] to how you think and feel about it," she adds. "If you're stressed about it, I almost feel like it acts like poison to the body. If you enjoy it, it will break down like a nice crunchy salad."
Wellness, parenting, body image and more: Get to know the who behind the hoo with Yahoo Life's newsletter. Sign up here.