Freddie Prinze Jr On Opening A Restaurant And Advocacy Through Food

After nearly three decades in Hollywood, Freddie Prinze Jr has become much more than a leading man.

The actor, best-known for his roles in She’s All That, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scooby Doo, has not only been trying his hand at podcasts, wrestling, and parenting—alongside wife and fellow actor Sarah Michelle Gellar—over the last few years, but quietly honing his skills in the kitchen.

“I’m not a chef,” he makes sure to emphasize, “so I don’t feel I deserve to be compared and in the same breath as a lot of the people that are in the food space…but I am a very good cook.

“There is not much that I can’t make, but I don’t have the title that is earned through the skill and the time and the sacrifice.”

A self-proclaimed culinary institute dropout, Prinze Jr spent years bussing tables at his chef mother’s restaurant throughout high school, and toyed with the idea of following in her footsteps for many years before making the move from New Mexico to LA at 18.

“I mean, I booked a movie six months in at Cordon Bleu’s, so I peaced out,” he admits, referencing an early role in 1996’s To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday. “It was with Michelle Pfeiffer—and there was no way I was going to pass that opportunity up.

“Had I earned that degree, I probably would have been more comfortable doing it.”

Nonetheless, his passion prevailed behind the silver screen, culminating in the release of a 75-recipe cookbook—Back to the Kitchen—in 2016.

“I just had an awesome three months putting it together,” he says. “My kids and wife ate like royalty every single night.”

Leaning into the Pull of the Power Couple, the book was filled with personal family photos and stories from Freddie and Sarah’s home and life Hollywood, as well as a number of family-focused recipes influenced by Prinze Jr’s Puerto Rican heritage.

Naturally, numerous offers to do something more concrete in culinary space—like opening his own restaurant—followed shortly thereafter.

“I don’t feel like I’ve earned it,” Prinze Jr says. “Of course, I’d be excited to do it, but I would have to put in a lot more training before doing something like that.

“Restaurants are a tough game, as you’d have to open it knowing you’re not making money and opening it for the locals in hopes they enjoy the food you make.

“It’s a ton of work and sacrifice—and I would want to work there if I opened it—but I just don’t have the time.”

For now, Prinze Jr wants to focus on partnerships that fit into “dad life”, like his latest partnership with Libby’s Vegetables.

In an effort to support Meals on Wheels America (the national programme dedicated to tackling senior hunger and isolation), Prinze Jr and Libby’s Vegetables are donating up to 500,000 food coupons throughout the Thanksgiving period.

“Anybody who likes, shares, or comments with the hashtag #LibbysGivesThanks on my Instagram post, Libby’s will donate 1 coupon for a can of Libby’s Vegetables to Meals on Wheels America.

““When you don’t have food, it’s not just physically debilitating—it’s mental, too. It’s defeating, it’s depressing, it’s no good,” says Prinze Jr. “So I’m excited to partner with Libby’s and I’m proud to do it.”

While Prinze Jr’s own family enjoys all the Thanksgiving “standards”, including turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and cranberry sauce, Prinze Jr. draws the line at green bean casserole.

“There is no place for that at my table,” he laughs. “I know it’s a staple in almost every Thanksgiving menu, but I can’t do it—I don’t know what it is, I just can’t.”

Glossing over the rumoured revival of I Know What You Did Last Summer floating around Hollywood at the moment, Prinze Jr says he’s looking forward to a number of new projects being revealed in the coming months, including The Girl In The Pool, which he filmed just before the SAG-AFTRA strike.

“I say this all the time when people ask—and it’s not meant to be a dismissive answer—but it’s a river, you know? You just never know what’s going to happen personally. The old saying, ‘you’ll have 10,000 tragedies and 10,000 joys and manage to balance each other out’—so I just try to stay open-minded and ready.”

Especially, I get the feeling, for the moment when his schedule allows him to make that long-dreamt-up restaurant a reality.

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