UConn alumnus Hannah Chloe Kaplan has come a long way since she earned her BFA in acting. Now an actor and host in Brooklyn, New York, she will be featured on the “Back to School” episode of the Cooking Channel’s show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” to talk about her love of Willington Pizza’s red potato pizza.
Despite having little culinary background, Kaplan works closely with food in New York. She has hosted 16 episodes of “Spoon Proof,” a life-hack web series by Spoon University, has starred in another episode of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and works at Catfish, a cajun food restaurant. She credits her talent in cooking productions to her background in theater.
“I absolutely apply my theater background to the cooking productions I have been in,” Kaplan said in an email. “How else could I have convinced people that I should be trusted around mixers and knives and hot boiling concoctions? I learned while studying acting that you have to lean in to any experience.”
Kaplan’s life as a lover of food didn’t really begin until she left UConn and moved to Brooklyn.
“When I moved to New York in 2013 I really discovered how much I enjoyed exploring the food scene here,” Kaplan said. “There are so many different cultures here and so many restaurants with their own takes on those cultures’ foods. You can go to one place in Brooklyn for authentic Senegalese food, and then walk a few blocks and find yourself right by a hole in the wall that has the best Mexican food. It’s nuts.”
Prior to that, Kaplan struggled to even cook frozen chicken nuggets in a toaster oven. But while living in Brooklyn, her exposure to food was so extreme that she was able to get a restaurant job under “Chopped” winner Garret Eagleton.
Beyond working around the food industry, Kaplan is also the co-founder of “The Brooklyn Actors Troupe” and a host for Broadly Entertaining. But it was through her job with Spoon University that she got chosen for “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” Someone from The Food Network, which shares studio space with Spoon University, saw Kaplan hosting “Spoon Proof” and suggested her for the show.
Kaplan’s upcoming episode of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” will center on the best food the contestants tried in college. The first time she ever tried Willington Pizza’s red potato pizza was back in her freshman year when her then-boyfriend brought her there to meet his parents. The pizza at least clearly left a lasting impression.
“I chose Willington Pizza for its uniqueness,” Kaplan said. “It’s a little spot in the middle of nowhere that is just doing its own thing. You read the menu and see taco pizza, red potato pizza? And then you get it and it’s like woah. What glorious creation did i just eat and who was the genius who came up with this?”
Beyond the unique flavor of the pizza, Kaplan also loved the atmosphere of the restaurant.
“When you walk inside [Willington Pizza] it’s like a memorabilia overload,” Kaplan said. “Anything with chotchskis and treasures all over the walls and I’m in. They even have this little kissing bridge out front… if you’re into that stuff.”
Kaplan isn’t alone in her devotion to Willington Pizza’s red potato pizza. It is a national award-winning pizza, which once won first place for most exotic pizza of the year, according to Willington Pizza’s website.
You can watch the “Back to School” episode on March 11 at 9 p.m. on the Cooking Channel, and you can drive a short 12 minutes from campus any day to taste the legendary red potato pizza yourself. Kaplan will be watching the show too.
“I am especially excited to see this episode though since I get to go down memory lane and talk about one of the best pizzas of all time,” Kaplan said.
Rebecca Maher is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.