On September 8, DivineCaroline’s editorial team attended a Fashion’s Night Out shopping event at Macy’s in San Francisco, and the highlight of the evening was getting to meet Sonja Morgan, one of the stars of Bravo’s Real Housewives of New York City. Sonja dished with writer Allison Ford about the charities she loves to work with and why men love a girl who cooks in a toaster oven. She was almost kind enough not to tell us the truth about Bay Area weather. Almost. In return, Allison was nice enough not to make a conference call in the middle of the interview. If you watched last season, you know how badly that would have ended.
Allison Ford: I love your hair! Who styled it?
Sonja Morgan: Arvin Tohardi, across the street at Cinta Salon. I was impressed, and I loved his shoes.
AF: How do you like San Francisco?
SM: That was a big hint. We are in San Francisco. [laughs] I’m a big supporter of the LBGT community. I love my gays.
AF: I know, you’re Queen of the Gays. So are you and Kathy Griffin going to have some sort of “Queen of the Gays” battle on Bravo? Is that going to have to happen? I would watch it. I’m just sayin’.
SM: That would be fun! We would fight over our gay friends! [laughs]We can’t leave out the lesbians, though. That’s the only thing you have to be very careful of doing.
AF: You’re pretty involved in a lot of charities...are you already involved in LGBT charities, or do you have plans to get more involved?
SM: I’ve been doing charity for twenty-something years, and I was honored back in 1986 for being a Singular Sensation with Mira Sorvino at the Waldorf-Astoria, as a single woman raising money for charities. It’s been a long time that I’ve been doing that. My umbrella of charities are children, artists, LGBT, and animals.
AF: Any specific organizations that are near and dear to your heart?
SM: Well, for animals it’s the ASPCA and the Humane Society, placing dogs and cats. Now I’ve been getting more involved with horses—horses going off to be slaughtered—but that’s just in the beginning talks.
AF: They do those commercials with Sarah McLachlan and I just want to start handing out my credit card number. They always get me. Are you going to get back to New York for any Fashion Week events?
SM: Yes! We’d never want to miss any of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week! Everybody asked me, “Why Macy’s?” but I would not miss coming to Macy’s. I was the fan favorite this year, so I had quite a few calls for Fashion’s Night Out, and when Macy’s invited me to cook in the toaster oven, I thought that would be so much better. I could share something—share recipes, share so many secrets of how to work your way around the toaster oven and in the kitchen. And I do have a big fan base out here.
AF: So how did you get into cooking in the toaster oven? What brought that about?
SM: For as long as I can remember I’ve been using the toaster oven, and for even longer than that I’ve been using a crock pot. You know, my mom was a single mom, working, and I’m the oldest of four children, so I was responsible for making meals. Peeling the potatoes, getting things ready before she’d come home, starting up the crock pot in the morning.
AF: So if you were cooking at your home for a date, what kind of meal would you cook in the toaster oven to impress a guy?
SM: You girls have to do my Hungry Man meals! Take lamb chops or rack of lamb, broiled across the top rack, and on the bottom you can do steamed asparagus. If you take out the lamb chops and then at the end, just put the asparagus on the top, you can broil them, too. Or grill them.
The other thing men love, which is very filling and healthy are sweet potatoes. Put those in before the lamb chops or the sirloin steak—another thing men love!—and those cook up very nicely. Start those baked potatoes at forty-five minutes to an hour on the top rack inside foil—you don’t cut them or do anything—then put them on the bottom and put the steak on the top for ten minutes or less. Delicious!
You don’t want a guy to see the toaster oven and think, “Oh, I’m going to be starving.” You want him to be impressed that you can serve a stylish meal with a great presentation, and it’s not a big to-do. At the same time, you can look great doing it—you have your hair up and loose, not too much makeup, a little something-nothing dress, and you’re cooking. That’s what men like. They don’t want to see you huffing and puffing, and the cookbook, and you’re sweating, and it takes you forever...they want to know that you can whip it up quickly and on a budget.
AF: Now, I don’t mean to switch directions entirely, but I do have to know...if you could join the cast of any other Housewives franchise, where would you go?
SM: If I could? You mean if I had to!
AF: Yes, if Andy Cohen called you and said you had to go somewhere else, where would you want to go?
SM: If I had to? OK, if Andy said I had to move, I’d go to Beverly Hills. I’m good friends with Kathy and Rick Hilton, and I’ve met their daughter Paris over the years and she’s lovely. I’ve exchanged messages with Kyle Richards and met her and her sister here in California when I came out to NBC, and from what I’ve heard, they seem like nice people. I’ve had dinner with Lisa Vanderpump, and I’ve spent a couple of evenings with Taylor Armstrong. So if I had to go somewhere else, I think I’d be very comfortable with those girls. And who doesn’t love Beverly Hills? I used to have a place in Beverly Hills before I got married, I was there for two years and I was very happy in California with the weather, and my old Volvo, and my poodle...I like that lifestyle.
AF: Although I don’t know why you’d want to leave New York...
SM: I had both—when I lived in California, I had New York, too. I would do ten days in California, and then do a business week in New York.
AF: That’s the best of both worlds.
SM: You know, Monday to Friday in New York pays all the bills in California.
AF: And down in L.A. there’s the really good California weather. We don’t have that good weather up here. It’s bad hair weather...very humid and sort of dank.
SM: Well, I wasn’t going to mention it... (laughs)
Catch Sonja on The Real Housewives of New York City, on Bravo