Meet a Mom — Recipe Creator Ereka Vetrini | The North County Moms

Twenty years ago, in the early days of reality television, Ereka Vetrini became a household name as a contestant on season one of The Apprentice. Today, she has found fame all over again on Instagram and TikTokwith nearly a million followers on each platform—as a recipe creator showcasing her Italian roots. Ereka has enamored her audience with a mix of classic recipes and inventive creations.  

Behind the camera Ereka is a busy Connecticut-based mom of two teenagers. “I met my husband Randy Burkholder when I was 25. He is my best friend and partner in life,” says Ereka, mom to a 15-year old daughter Joslin, and a 13-year old son, Harris. “We are not perfect parents, but I’m proud of the kids we have raised: kind, fun, smart and funny. We have so much fun together!” she beams.

Fun is exactly what Ereka brings to her social platforms and recipes. In her Meet a Mom interview, Ereka dishes—pun intended—on the passion behind her recipes, the downside of instant TV fame, and her dedication to carving out time for a healthy lifestyle.

We’ve all gone down a rabbit hole watching your cooking videos on Instagram. Everything looks SO delicious!  Tell us about your cooking roots and what inspires your recipes.

Thank you! Honestly my most vivid childhood memories are of food. My parents opened their first restaurant when I was a toddler so I basically grew up in that restaurant. Both of my parents were born and raised in Italy. When they came to this country they tried to assimilate, but the Italian food traditions stuck and were cherished. Everything was homemade; nothing came out of a can. They jarred their own tomatoes, made their own pasta and even grew some of their own fruits and vegetables. That’s the Italians way…they cook with fresh, seasonal, good quality ingredients. When I create recipes, I pull from those memories and then try to figure out a way to adapt them to our crazy busy lives. 


As moms, we know cooking for kids can get tricky.  Do your kids actually eat all of your gorgeous meals and what are a few of their favorites?  Any advice for getting kids to try new foods? 

Yes, my kids eat everything I make. Do they love it all? No, but they try it regardless. When they were little I had this rule called the “No Yuck Rule.” If they tasted something they weren’t fond of they weren’t allowed to shout “yuck” or “gross.” Instead, they’d say, “It’s not my favorite” or just pass on that part of the meal. I never force my kids to eat anything they don’t like; however, I do challenge them to be adventurous and taste everything. My husband and I would play this little trick when they were little. If they refused to try something, we’d say, “Oh good. I’ll eat it. I love it!” Their reaction was either, “No, I want it” or they’d watch in amazement as we enjoyed their food. I found that the next time I introduced the same foods they were more likely to try it. I know that this strategy does not work for every family, so no judgment. We’re all just doing our best. 

 

 

We absolutely are! Turning to your first encounter with fame, we’re curious about your days on The Apprentice. Reality TV has come so far! Looking back, how do you feel about that experience?  What lessons did you take with you in terms of business and yourself?

When I was asked to be a contestant on The Apprentice as the only female business woman from New York, I was excited and terrified all at the same time. It was a wild ride. At the time I was a Senior Marketing Manager for Estee Lauder and before that an operational auditor for Estee Lauder Corporate. I’d say the biggest take away was that I didn’t love being a reality TV “celebrity.” The 1st episode of The Apprentice ran right after Friends and 35 million people tuned in. Suddenly, lots of folks knew who I was, but none of them knew what I did for a living. That didn’t sit well. I’m now lucky enough to have grown this amazing community who tunes in to see me do what I love most. I work hard to keep them happy.

Your dedications certainly shows!  And you have grown your brand and your career all while raising kids.  What’s your formula for getting it done?  

You never get it all done, but you do your best to keep your head above water. You hire people you can trust to give you the support you need both at home and at work. I’m also lucky because my kids are older. They still need me, but not the way they needed me when they were in elementary school. This ever changing industry that I’m in makes it hard for a parent with a family to keep up. The algorithm changes daily.  Features are added regularly.  One platform folds and five new ones pop-up. Instead of getting overwhelmed, I try to remember what’s important to me. First and foremost, I need to stay connected to my kids. My daughter will be headed to college in a few years. I’ve got no time to waste. Second, I try to remember to stay authentic, have fun, and not get too caught up with clicks, views and likes.  


We love this perspective. So, in all of the chaos, what does your self-care entail?  From food to movement to daily practices, tell us the habits you love!

I’m often told I should meditate, but I’ve never been very good at sitting still. Movement and exercise are my form of meditation. I used to run 5-8 miles a day, but my bones asked me to stop. Now I bike, kickbox and have found a new love of pilates. I exercise 6 days a week, sometimes for just 30 minutes and max one hour. Regarding food, I eat everything I make in moderation. My plate is usually 65% vegetables, 20% protein and 15% starch, but there’s always the exception to the rule. 

We love your style. What are 5 fashion/beauty must-haves that you know will become favorites for us too?

So sweet! Thank you! Ok, so I love Lanolips. It’s the only lip ointment I use. I’m truly addicted. It’s made from ultra purified and cleaned lanolin (yup, the stuff we used while breastfeeding). I can’t go anywhere without it.

I’m also a big fan of The Ordinary. Love their 100% Cold Pressed Marula Oil and their Vitamin C Suspension for brightening. 

Regarding wardrobe, I’m a huge fan of Stillwater LA’s comfy yet sexy dresses, Tucker NYC blouses, anything from ALC and fun casual bracelets from Rachel Nathan Design

To learn more about Ereka, check out her website and follow her on Instagram @erekav

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