Hot dishes

Local sexy cookbook goes digital and global

Mama Rose cooks up fun in her iTunes cookbook app with dishes like coconut prawns.

Mama Rose cooks up fun in her iTunes cookbook app with dishes like coconut prawns.

photo by christine g.k. lapado-breglia

Download a night of fun. Cooking to Impress Chicks is available via iTunes. The first six chapter are free, the rest are 99 cents each.

Rosemary “Mama Rose” Febbo is one of Chico’s most vibrant and widely known characters. If you don’t know her by sight, then you probably know the sound of her cheery voice from her long-running, food-centric radio show, Mama Rose’s Kitchen, airing two or three Tuesdays each month on local community radio station KZFR, 90.1 FM. And now, Febbo’s food expertise and popularity have begun to spread worldwide. Four weeks ago, the charming, vivacious 65-year-old launched her own cookbook mobile app on iTunes—Cooking to Impress Chicks—and it’s already been downloaded in 43 countries.

“The idea of this app came by way of inspiration from my son, Jason,” Febbo says in the app’s introduction. “I was visiting him in New York, and he announced one night that he was going to cook me a ‘red meal.’ I was intrigued. ‘What is a red meal?’ I asked. He sat me down in full view of the kitchen, and then handed me a glass of red wine. He proceeded to cook lamb chops with a red-wine reduction sauce, roasted red beets with herbs and olive oil, radicchio salad with raspberry vinaigrette, and raspberry sorbet for dessert. … I said, ‘You must have impressed a lot of women with your cooking, huh, J?’ And his response was, ‘Yeah, Ma, cooking impresses chicks.’”

<i>Cooking to Impress Chicks</i> art by Thorn Hart.

Cooking to Impress Chicks has been in the works for about five years. Originally, it was intended to be an actual old-school cookbook that a guy could hold in his hands, dripping melted butter and other ingredients onto the open pages as he cooked. It transformed into an app about six months ago after another of Febbo’s sons, Robert, suggested the idea. “He said, ‘You need to turn it into an app, Mom,’ and the very next day I made some phone calls to find out who could do this for me,” she said. “Most young men, if you ask them, they would probably not buy a cookbook as likely as they would download an app.”

With sassy chapter titles such as “Wake Me, Bake Me, Take Me,” “Chug Me, Hug Me, Don’t Let Me Drive” (on cocktail-based meals) and “First Course, Intercourse, Second Course,” Febbo’s app straddles the fine line between food and sex.

From Chapter 13, “Tease Me, Please Me, Feed Me”: “You get to eat this whole meal using only your hands and lips. You can build so much excitement around this evening that the results may just startle you. … A ripe juicy grape passed from your lips to hers is off-the-wall sexy!”

“Being the mom of three sons, the information I give is really tongue-in-cheek,” she continued, “but really good for a guy who wants to hone his romantic and culinary skills—in and out of the kitchen. I mean, I say things like, ‘Countertops are not just for cooking.’ It gets a little sexy.”

Febbo reached out to Portland, Ore.-based chef (and former Chicoan) Mike Wirch to be her co-author. “I enlisted Chef Mike just to give some banter to what I was saying,” said Febbo. “And him being a professional chef—I left the recipe development up to him, although I did work on them with him. We ate a lot of really good food, because you have to test recipes over and over again!”

Febbo is retiring her KZFR show on July 31, after almost 12 years on the air (in the early days, as listeners know, Febbo was teamed up with Loretta Metcalf when the show was called Mangia with the Mamas). “I’m gonna have more time to market this [app] and do some specialty events regarding food and music locally,” she offered.

True to her fun- and food-loving nature, Febbo had these parting words: “Put some romance and fun in your life. I mean, jeez, life is so darn short!”