"Whether in the courtroom or in the kitchen I bring the heat." The thought of having one particular tagline define me or any of the ladies on this show always seemed a bit simplistic. I found solace in that the message was mostly positive albeit a little silly. Asking someone to look away if they don’t like your smile or announcing that you don’t deal with stupid speaks volumes and could not have painted a more accurate picture of what was in store this season.
So many people were surprised to see the dramatic fallout at the reunion between Lea and myself. It seemed to come out of nowhere. Lea and I interacted very little on the show save for the Marysol debacle. I never felt I had much in common with Lea and for that reason kept my distance. I always got the impression that she was all "smoke and mirrors" as I said many times. She wanted people to buy into this persona and she tooted her own horn incessantly. Nothing about that particularly bothered me. I just kind of found her to be an odd yet amusing bird.
The reunion was sure to be a long and draining experience and I arrived at 7 AM as requested. I spoke to no one the night before except Joanna who came to my room to discuss jewelry and wardrobe. About 20 minutes before I went on set I was again reminded that Lea was "gunning" for me. I took my file sat in my designated spot (on the most uncomfortable couch in the western hemisphere) and hid my file behind a throw pillow. Within the first 3 minutes Lea attacked me without being provoked. Twice. The first thing she said (quite aggressively) was that my husband (now ex) has been sleeping around for years. I was not sure how that was a character flaw on my part. After all, even if that were true it certainly can’t be imputed on me. She then corrected herself when I reminded her that we had been separated for two years. She backpedaled and retracted saying that she never said "cheating." Sleeping around = cheating no? Thesaurus? So that was the big plan of attack she had spent weeks boasting about? She then took out what she believed was her piece de resistance; the dig about the little "mortgages at US Century Bank." To which I retorted by pulling out my file. What occurred after that was a cross-examination never before seen on a reunion show; so unexpected and full of interesting information that the other cast members were rendered speechless. Where, how, why? Good question. Stay tuned for that story.What you did see were bits and pieces of a very angry Ana and a very stunned Lea, a Lea who never expected certain information to be divulged. Sadly, the whole situation could have been avoided had she not bragged repeatedly about her reunion take-down. It became a domino effect. The thought of Lea’s audacity brought to the surface a lot of the things she had done and said all season long both in and outside the purview of the camera: Her never ending desire to damage Marysol’s business, her questionable friends, her constant digs followed by "JUST KIDDING!", her incessant name dropping, the disparaging manner with which she “handled” her husband (unless a camera was present), and finally, her ever shifting alliances on the show. One minute Lisa is a dumb wannabe philanthropist, the next she is her spiritual adviser and fertility cheerleader. One moment Karent is an annoying chatterbox and tool, the next she is the victim of unrequited love and the “mean girls”. Is anyone buying this? Anyone besides her hired guns and diligent blog posters? I think not.
Lea’s pattern of retraction, her disclaimers like "that is not my recollection", her tired overly rehearsed little lines about not "building her life into the camera but rather building the camera into her life", are a testament to her pattern of finding the proverbial escape route. Intelligent people don’t buy things like "my reasons are both qualified and quantified" because the statement is both nonsensical and laughable. People are smarter than Lea thinks -- both her cast mates and the viewers. She did not fool anyone.
I will not spend too much time on the "socially awkward" comment as it was the subject of many interviews I’ve done and practically trended on Twitter. I know most of you who post here know what really happened and perhaps even feel a little embarrassed that it was the viewers and not I who dubbed RJ that. Had Lea really thought I was referring to her son she would have lunged across the cocktail table at me. She sprung to her feet for far less at least 10 times during the taping. So many times in fact, that Andy had to ask her repeatedly to take a seat. The fact that she now uses her 10 year old son as a scape goat to garner the sympathy of the viewers after spending an entire two seasons in a vicious and bigoted attempt to attack and discredit the Cuban girls on the show is pathetic. Is it a coincidence that every girl that Lea has attacked is a Cuban girl? Cristy Rice during Season 1, Marysol during both seasons, and me during the reunion? I think not. She stood idly by while Alexia’s Cuban husband was being badmouthed, but stood up and defended Thomas Kramer, a misogynist who has acted in a despicable manner for many years. Yes, I was angry and reminded Lea that at her age she needs to behave and not be a disingenuous hypocrite. But, if you watched closely throughout the season, I rarely became involved in any of the petty drama. I spoke up when it was necessary and made a difference (i.e. Thomas Kramer). I stood by and defended my friends. I had the same friends at the beginning of the season as I had at the end. I opened myself and my life up to the viewers at the risk of falling flat on my face -- even enduring being called a fool for mourning the loss of my 23 year marriage. I was honest, I was open, and I was real.
Looking back on the season there are some things I may have done differently. Looking back on the reunion there is so much more I wish you had seen. What you saw was a microcosm of the 10 hours we filmed. Had you seen it all, everything would be much clearer for you.
I’m glad the viewers saw my wonderful family this year -- my beautiful girls Kati and Beba, both of whom are well on their way to success -- Kati will be starting law school in the fall, and Beba will graduate next year at the top of her class from the University of Miami with a degree in Motion Pictures. And they both are great cooks, chips off the "old" block.
You had the opportunity to see a bit about what I've accomplished. I'm proud of my success as a lawyer for many years, and now I'm excited about my new plans to continue writing my books, launching my food line, and toying with the idea of opening a small restaurant. Unlike others, I have not sought to pimp my wares each and every week here on my blog, but instead shared an appropriate recipe that you might want to try. So, just in case you are interested and want more of my recipes, yes, you can buy either one of my books, Cuban Chicks Can Cook and Sabor, by going to this link: http://www.anaquincoces.com/shop/. Stay tuned on my blog for more details -- not just about the reunion but also my book signings, food line, cooking demos, and my new books in progress, including one coming out this spring about the iconic and most important Cuban restaurant in the US -- the famous Versailles on Calle Ocho.
Thank you all for watching and for sharing your thoughts with me. I appreciate all the emails, tweets, and Facebook posts offering both your advice and support. I have always been flattered that you take the time out of your busy schedules to reach out to me and I do my best to respond in a timely manner. I would love to continue communicating with you and invite you to visit my website, www.anaquincoces.com, and to follow me on Twitter, @AnaQooks, where I will continue to blog and post recipes regularly. I wish you all a wonderful 2013 full of health, love, and surrounded by family and friends.
And yes, I’m working on starting over in my personal life too. Happy New Year!
12/31/12 after the Pitbull concert in Miami with Marc.