But tonight it takes some doing to figure out exactly where she is. Brie is in a small room off of the crowded bar on the second floor of New York’s oversized restaurant, Legacy Records. It’s like I’ve walked through a portal, leaving the raging party celebrating the relaunch of the American Express Gold Card outside and suddenly find myself in some kind of period drama where Brie is holding court on a small ornate sofa.
Despite doing this for countless hours, she has the energy and enthusiasm of her Glow character Ruth Wilder. Given that the event features food from a number of different New York restaurants, including Shake Shack, we start chatting about the Big Apple’s coffee shop game vs. that of her hometown Los Angeles where she still lives with her husband, actor Dave Franco.
In L.A. “they’re flourishing,” she says, but she admits that the city is also still home to plenty of restaurants serving macrobiotic and plant-based dishes. “I like the places that are splitting the difference,” she says. “I’m certainly a health-conscious person and I like the M Cafés and even the Café Gratitudes and things like that, but I’m more apt to go to Kismet or Sqirl for that good brunchy food.”
“Kismet is sort of Greek- or Mediterranean-inspired. It’s just delicious brunch and lunch food. I feel like I take almost every meeting there. I could hangout all day at Kismet. They have great tea as well. I’m more of a tea drinker than a coffee drinker,” she says. “And Sqirl is fantastic. They do great crispy rice bowls and also epic chicken sandwiches and things like that. But there is a line around the block.”
She also really enjoys cooking at home. Her husband “does a lot of eating at home, so it’s a great pairing,” she jokes. “When I’m working, I do a ton of ground turkey meals. I have my very easy hacks, like taco turkey, in which I do ground turkey with onion and bell peppers sautéed and then I do a bit of taco seasoning over the top. Put that in a bowl with some brown rice, some lettuce, some avocado, a little salsa and you got a taco bowl! I also do a great pan-seared salmon with a soy ginger glaze. I’ll do a kale fried rice on the side and maybe a roasted vegetable to go with that meal.”
Brie doesn’t eat beef or pork and has recently been trying to eat more vegan meals. “I’m always trying to go more and more meatless,” she says. However, her husband, who does eat meat, isn’t thrilled by this development. “I’m always trying to slip in a meal a week that has no meat. And I’ll be like ‘You’re full.’ And once he realizes that there is no meat, he’s like ‘wait a minutes, I’m still hungry.’”
Since we’re talking about eating in L.A., I inevitably bring up legendary deli Canter’s on Fairfax, which is perhaps the antithesis of health conscious dining. “I feel like growing up Canter’s was so iconic,” she remembers. “As a teenager it was so great because it would be open late and we could go there. Even when you’re a teenager and not drinking it still would be fun to go late night to Canter’s and get a matzo ball soup.”
While she still swears by their matzo ball soup, it’s not ideal for shooting her show Glow. When it’s in production, she tries “to eat more like an athlete. I cut out all alcohol. It all becomes about protein as it does and it also becomes about eating every two hours, so never sitting and eating like that big meal.” At the end of the day after her scenes are over, she eats an early dinner. “It’s so physical, it just slows you down so much to stop and eat a super-heavy meal.”
That, of course, doesn’t prevent craft services from tempting the cast with all kinds of delicious foods. In fact, her co-star, comedian Marc Maron, frequently grouses about the non-stop buffet. At this point Brie, in her best Maron impression, launches into a tirade about the never-ending platters of fried chicken, pasta and other decadent dishes.
As we laugh, I have a sense of what it must be like to work on the set of Glow. Do the casts of her shows typically hangout when they’re not working? “The set of Mad Men really felt like the vibe of Mad Men and everybody smoked cigarettes and drank. Those parties were always the best parties. On Community, we worked such crazy hours. We’d often would shoot until 5 or 6 a.m. the following morning. We did have a real tight party crew for a little while. Me and Donald [Glover] and Danny [Pudi] and Joe Russo and Ken [Jeong] took trips to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and did stuff like that. We all would end up kind of losing our minds a little in the wee hours of the night. That was a fun group.”
Did she have any idea of Glover’s musical talents? “Yes! Because on the set of Community he played us some of his first music ever,” she says. “I remember going to some of his first shows and we were so impressed and excited for him. But it’s still even crazier than we could have imagined and so fantastic.”