In the Kitchen, on the Rails with Mo Rocca

Mo Rocca

Tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET is the premiere of Cooking Channel’s My Grandmother’s Ravioli, where Mo Rocca learns to cook from grandparents across the country. We know we’ll be tuning in, you should too!

As an added bonus, Amtrak is also getting in on the culinary fun with a contest sending one winning family on a free long-distance train vacation. Entering to win a free trip is easy at

We caught up with the show’s star Mo Rocca to find out about travel, trains and his favorite grandparent.

Trains are all about creating a community with your fellow travelers.  Who is the most interesting person you’ve met on the show?

You’re going to make me pick the most interesting grandparent? That’s like asking a grandmother to choose her favorite grandkid. (Actually they all have one and it’s usually pretty obvious.)

As for the grandparent I’d most like to travel with by train, it’s a tie: Mioko was 13 and living near Nagasaki when the second atomic bomb dropped during World War Two. To survive she foraged for food, then came halfway around the globe to settle in the U.S. without speaking a lick of English. She’s an adventurer. And then there’s Millie who’s just fun to talk to because she’s got an opinion about everything. She doesn’t just think Family Feud is the best show on TV; she knows it.

Our Acela high-speed service is an update to classic train travel.  For your favorite dishes, do you prefer the classics or the updated versions?

I like the classics: Spanakopita as made by Greek grandparents George and Kathy Boulukos … Shrimp Bruschetta Pizza as taught to me by Italian grandpas Vincent and Sal. I don’t like tall food, the kind you get at fancy restaurants like a teetering tower of raw tuna with a sprig of something balanced on top. Especially on a high-speed train, I prefer my food low and wide … structurally sound.

My Grandmother’s Ravioli is all about family.  It might be tough to decide, but who is your favorite family member to travel with?

This one’s easy. My mother: without her, I wouldn’t be here. Plus she doesn’t text, tweet or tumblr. She actually observes what we’re passing and reminds me to do the same.

Amtrak serves over 500 destinations.  Where would you recommend travelers go to experience the best food?

Gee whiz, I don’t know that I’ll ever again taste pork like Portuguese grandma Doris’ pork. She brined it for over three weeks and that skin was so crispy. Plus her linguiça (Portuguese sausage) with green beans and filhos (Portuguese doughnuts). Wow. Take the train to Boston, then make your way to Peabody and beg her to feed you! If you’re nice, she’ll also teach you to foxtrot.

You’re constantly traveling and appearing on television.  Do you ever get inspired for new projects while traveling?

I keep a little notepad at all times to write down ideas.  There’s something about train travel that relaxes my mind and opens it up. I might be sitting in the quiet car, but there’s a whole lot happening upstairs when I’m on a train.

My Grandmother’s Ravioli airs on Cooking Channel Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET

Head over to and enter to win a free trip for you and your family on a long-distance Amtrak train! It’s as easy as pie, get it?