What’s better than interviewing a superstar singer/songwriter about his favorite drinks? When his equally famous wife says she wants to talk about her favorite drinks too. Daisy Fuentes may leave the music to her husband Richard Marx, but she’s conquered nearly every other avenue of entertainment: MTV VJ, model, actress, television host, spokesperson as well as creating her own lifestyle brand Daisy Fuentes Style. I spoke with Fuentes about when she discovered martinis, why she switched to a plant-based diet and why most people approach tequila the wrong way.
Richard says you’re the one who scopes out the local restaurants for the after-show dinner when he’s on tour. How did you get that responsibility?
I’ve always been a foodie. I think there is great pleasure in the ceremony of getting together and enjoying food and drink. It’s a great way to connect. Some people have their lunch standing up while looking at their phone. I like to sit down even if it’s casual. I like ambiance. I want to create the right circumstance for conversation.
What makes a place Daisy-approved?
It depends where we are. Sometimes we’re in a small town and there is no fancy restaurant, but there is that local gem with great food where the locals go. It also depends if you’re thirstier or hungrier. A great lounge or bar where you can grab a martini and pizza or fries – that’s perfect if the night calls for it. Other times you want a nice dinner and a glass of wine. You have to adjust to the circumstances.
What’s your favorite drink?
I have three. A vodka martini, a good scotch or whiskey and tequila on the rocks. I’m not a big fan of cocktails, but on the weekends Richard likes to make me a Paloma. It’s a light refreshing drink to have by the pool. Every now and then I’ll have an Eastern Standard.
Which whiskeys do you like?
I’m a Blue Label (Johnnie Walker) girl. I learned how to drink scotch with my dad. He would always have his one drink and sip it for an hour and talk. I loved the scent, the fragrance. When I first tasted it though, the fragrance didn’t match the taste. After a few little tastes from his glass over the years I was ready for my own glass and I just acquired a taste for it. In my thirties I also started liking single malts.
Which single malts?
I love Macallan and Highland Park.
Añejo or extra añejo. Something where I can taste a little of the barrel. I like a sipping tequila. I’n not a fan of doing shots. I often meet people who had a bad experience way back when and I always say hold on, give me a chance. You’ve been doing it wrong! It’s not about doing shots to get drunk, it’s the ceremony, the taste and the flavor.
And most importantly, how did a vodka martini become the official Daisy and Richard drink?
It started with James Bond. I loved the look of it. The elegance. In films growing up every time I’d see someone with a martini glass it looked so inviting. I remember the first martini I tasted — I did not like it. But I’m not a quitter! I kept trying them and discovered it was the vermouth I didn’t like. So for me it’s a clean vodka straight up martini no vermouth, not even a spray of it. I’ve recently been trying to acquire a taste for gin but it’s too much like perfume.
The word is you’re a fantastic chef.
I love to cook. A few years back we changed our lifestyle and started eating plant-based, but I still wanted to have all the flavors I grew up with: the Cuban foods, the Spanish foods and the Mediterranean. I had to learn how to make everything with plant based and I’ve been to replicate everything.
What led to choosing a plant-based diet?
A little bit of everything. I’m a huge animal lover and a big believer that ‘when you know better you do better.’ We had gotten to the point where we’d seen and read too much to understand the consequences of our lifestyle. As we get older we all suffer from the same illnesses and they all come from our lifestyle. Rather than wait until we’re older and run into those same issues, let’s be proactive and do this now. Richard and I are just starting our love affair in the middle of our lives. We have more sunsets behind us than in front of us, so we want to stay healthy as long as possible to enjoy life together.
How important was food in your family growing up?
On the weekends it was always visits to my grandparents. My grandmothers on both sides were amazing cooks. My mom’s side is from Spain and her mom would cook the most amazing Spanish stews and paellas and these incredible Sunday dinners. On my dad’s side it was the rice and black beans dishes, all the Cuban staples.
Was it hard to switch to plant-based cooking for your favorite dishes?
YouTube is full of videos on this. You can find your favorite recipe made plant-based. I think it’s easier than people realize to swap out a few things and eat more plant-based meals. Everyone thinks it’s all or nothing, it’s really not. It’s about what you do most of the time.
When your partner writes a book it puts your life out there as well. Was there anything that made you feel vulnerable or surprised you that he wrote about?
The parts about me didn’t surprise me much at all. He’s always been very discreet so it was interesting to see how he was going to share what he chose to share. There were stories in there I hadn’t heard before that really made me emotional. Hearing about his depression – I hate thinking that he was in that state. I remember thinking I wished I could have helped him through that. We were discussing the book after it came out and realized he had even more great stories. I’m thinking we need a ‘Stories To Tell Volume 2.’
What will your book be about?
More of a business memoir. How I went from being an MTV VJ and model to becoming a mogul! (laughs).
What’s your favorite Richard Marx song?
That’s a tough one, because there are the classics and a bunch of new ones. ‘The Way She Loves Me’ is one of my favorites. So is ‘Hazard.’ From the new ones, there’s the one I wrote with him ‘Beautiful Goodbye.’ I love that song. And the one I’m in the video for, ‘Front Row Seat.’