Vanessa Marano talks Bobby Flay, holiday nostalgia and more in new movie One Delicious Christmas

Food Network and Discovery+ are bringing the holiday cheer to their schedules with a new rom-com movie, available to stream now.

One Delicious Christmas follows the story of Abby Richmond, played by Vanessa Marano, the owner of the Haven Restaurant and Inn. Richmond took over the inn when her family died and finds the responsibility too great.

“She can’t handle it anymore. She says, ‘Okay, it’s okay, we’re working, we’re not going under any time soon, but we’re going to go under because that’s too much responsibility for me. I need a partner, I won’t be able to hold this place alone,'” Marano said. “She sees the writing on the wall, which I like about Abby, she has that business savvy to anticipate problems.”

To save the business, Richmond tries to secure an investment from restaurant mogul Alexandra Grandfield, but in order for Grandfield to invest, Richmond must a) update the menu with the help of a new chef, Preston Weaver (played by Alex Mallari, Jr. ) and b) impress top culinary critic Tom Kingsley, played by Food Network’s Bobby Flay.

Though initially reluctant, Richmond relents and gets Weaver to polish the menu. And as the story progresses, Richmond and Weaver find that there could be a spark between them.

“I can tell you right now that a lot is going to happen between the two of them. Lots of conflict, lots of flirting, and essentially they have to work together in a way that they can both get what they want out of the situation, and what they want may not be what they need,” Marano said. “I really look forward to each of the fight scenes between my character Abby and Alex’s character Preston at the beginning of the film because they are so much fun to shoot. It’s a fun setting for her love story that emerges from such conflicts, and the comedy we were able to inject into it was a lot of fun to shoot.”

Chef Preston (Alex Mallari Jr.) and Abby (Vanessa Marano) cook new dishes and more in the Discovery+ holiday feature, One Delicious Christmas.Photo: Food Network/discovery+

As a Christmas movie lover, Marano was thrilled to be a part of One Delicious Christmas. Though Christmas/holiday movies are still a relatively new avenue being explored by Food Network and Discovery+, Marano says the team working on the film were seasoned space veterans.

“It was great to be surrounded by people who really captured the spirit of the times in the Christmas film. Our amazing director Stacy N. Harding has a great reputation with it, our producers had worked on it – they felt like they were in experienced hands,” said Marano. “But then there was this whole new excitement that it’s a streaming network like Discovery+ and Food Network that’s dipping its toe in the water and it’s relatively new to the game, so it was like that burst of energy was part of one of the the first few, but still have the safety and comfort of people who know what they’re doing and who’ve been at this game for a while.”

As with much of Food Network’s new scripted content, a familiar face from the culinary world was brought to the set, this time with Flay as the food critic. Marano says Flay was great to work with and she understands what it feels like to step out of your comfort zone to take on a role you’ve never done before.

“I was a guest judge on ‘Chopped Jr.’ For the Food Network, that was me stepping into a room where I said, “I don’t do this, I don’t judge food competitions,” but the judges and everyone there made me feel so welcome and safe to be. We really wanted to make sure Bobby felt the same way,” Marano said. “We started with him those days and it was a riot, it was a lot of fun and a lot of work. This is your first step into the acting space, which I know he’s done before in a situation where he’s playing himself, so I’m incredibly impressed with his let’s get her attitude behind it.”

Food critic Tom Kingsley (Bobby Flay) and restaurant entrepreneur Alexandra Grandfield arrive at the Haven in the Discovery+ holiday film One Delicious Christmas.Photo: Food Network/discovery+

When shooting a Christmas movie, there’s a lot of sentimentality that comes through for the actors on set. Marano herself was able to use her own Christmas memories to bring her character to life.

“There’s actually a line in the movie where Preston is trying to convince Abby to try something different with the menu, he’s like, ‘The Italians celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve,’ and Abby’s like, ‘Oh, we don’t’. I don’t do that, but we do – my father is Italian, so I felt seen by that line,” Marano said.

For Marano, the creation of Christmas films through Food Network and Discovery+ is a match made in heaven, especially as food is often a point of nostalgia for the holiday season for many people.

“You have these traditions, and mostly these traditions revolve around food, what your mom, your dad, your grandma, your grandpa made,” Marano said. “It really was a perfect partnership between Food Network and Discovery+ to make Christmas films because food is something more important than nourishment. It’s memories, it’s nostalgia and it’s a big part of Christmas in general.”

One Delicious Christmas is now streaming on Discovery+.

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