Niecy Nash On IHOP Rewards, The Best TV Catering, And On-Screen Food Memories - Exclusive Interview

Actress, comedian, and personality Niecy Nash wants the world to know how much she loves pancakes. According to Vibe, Nash joined forces with IHOP to help promote the restaurant's latest royalty program. The chain tapped the star to promote its crypto pancake currency system called PanCoins. In addition to promoting the new digital platform that lets users score free pancakes on their birthday, Nash used the promotion to donate $50,000 to charity.

While Nash has gone all out on Instagram and other media outlets to promote the latest team-up, the star has a long and intricate relationship with food. IMDb tells us the actress has made her name in shows stretching from "Reno 911" to "Claws" and has accumulated a ton of on-screen food experience over the years. Nash sat down for an exclusive interview with Mashed and dished on her nostalgic relationship with pancakes all the way to how crab and wine led her to her current romantic partner.

Nash's relationship with IHOP pancakes

Tell me what's going on with this IHOP promotion.

Let me tell you about some pancakes. I was so happy to partner with IHOP. First of all, my baby girl eats it at least three to four times a week, which I love. I love that they created a loyalty program. You download [the] app, you go in, you order your food, you get pan coins deposited into your account and you can come back and then get free food and/or pancakes. I mean, I'm getting pancakes. I don't know what everybody else is getting with their coins, but that's what I would get. I was like, "I would love to help spread the word about this," because for me, I've never had a pancake and been sad. Because I feel like it's such a happy food, it fits in line with everything I'm about, giving back and happiness.

How did you end up getting roped into this? What's your relationship with IHOP in this?

Like I said, my daughter eats it probably three to four times a week. It's a staple, and when I heard about the loyalty program, I was like, "Yes, ding, ding, ding, sign me up."

Waffles vs. pancakes

For you personally, do you have a preferred IHOP order?

There is a very spicy omelet that I like there. When I say spicy, it has jalapeno and serrano peppers. I like it hot.

It's a controversial opinion, too, because when you think of IHOP, you think pancakes, so you're going for the wild card there.

Oh yeah, but normally, I have pancakes on the side of the omelette. 

You would say you're a pancake person between the pancake/waffle debates. Would you prefer a pancake over waffle?

Yes and always.

How come?

Because I grew up with my mother making them. We didn't have a waffle iron when I was growing up, so that's what I'm used to.

I definitely feel that. There's a very good level of comfort in that.

Oh yeah. It's nostalgic.

What was your favorite pancake memory?

I have to tell you something. Recently, we did a photo shoot at IHOP and I could not ... Everyone who worked there was extremely kind, and I loved that energy. Luckily, it's the IHOP that's right down the street from my house. I don't know who staffed it, where they got all these amazing people from, but [it was] lovely and you feel so taken care of there.

Nash's favorite pancake add-in

For you personally, is there anything that makes a good pancake? I know not all pancakes are created equal.

Sometimes I think it's really great when it's a little crispy on the edge and soft in the middle. Sometimes you can go for a wild card and get flavored syrup and change the whole game.

Do you have a favorite syrup?

I like a traditional [syrup], but sometimes I may switch it up. One of the other things that I really like is blueberries, and when you add that to the mix, it's a party in your mouth.

I know when you go to IHOP, you get the pancakes, but what about at home? Do you still go and make them at home? Do you still try to bring that comfort back?

I don't make them at home, but I do have my mother come over to make it.

That's even better.

She's the expert pancake maker in the family. Her secret ingredient — apple sauce.

Nash's relationship with cooking

What's your own personal relationship with food? I know you got tapped for this because you got the IHOP background, but you also probably have another relationship with food.

You mean other than the fact that I'm greedy?

When it comes to food, who isn't?  What's your background with it? Do you like to cook? What's your relationship with food?

My background is going out because I don't like to cook. I very much would prefer to sit down and have somebody bring me all the delicious things.

Do you have a particular ingredient you love to see in the food?

I like food that is made with love. I don't care what the literal ingredient is, but if you're passionate about what you're making, and how you make it, you can tell. The difference between something being thrown together and slapped on the plate and somebody in the back saying, "Now this is going to be good."

The best birthday dinner Nash had on set

You have a very particular relationship with a lot of food, people don't necessarily see because you're on a bunch of sets. You have a lot of memories probably dealing with catering. Tell me a bit about that because that's something that not a lot of us have any experience with. Have you had any really good catering moments over the course of your career?

One of my favorite caterers was in New Orleans. This was before the pandemic and this particular company loved what they did so much that they would literally make homemade sauces. It got to the point where we were like, "Can you make some and put it in a jar so we could take it home?" New Orleans has some of the best food. I really enjoyed the catering down there, and now we're in a situation where everything has to be boxed and put together for safety protocols. When I say back in the day, I mean two years ago. The caterer was top notch.

Do you remember some of the things that really stood out with those memories? Some particular foods? 

I was always working on my birthday and catering would always ask me what I wanted to eat for my birthday. I would always, without a doubt, say seafood. They would do a huge spread, almost like a boil, a seafood boil. All the seafood, hot, cold, and they would do an ice sculpture of me, which made everything taste better, if you asked me. It was a ... definitely a great food memory.

Nash's favorite on-screen food moment

Do you remember what show that was for?

That was when I was filming "Claws."

Was that the best food memory you had, based here on "Claws"?

I loved my birthday. I did that show for four seasons and every year on my birthday, I was always there, and that's what I want[ed] to eat.

What about over the course of your career too? Do you remember any really good moments during any kind of acting moments with food? Beyond catering? When food appeared as a prop in any of your shows?

I used to do a series called "The Soul Man," where I played Cedric the Entertainers' wife. My father-in-law on the show, there was a scene where he had to take a bite of a giant cookie ... and then go, "I like cookies," but Cedric played a joke on him and he kept acting like he either messed up the line, or he laughed on the line, or he did something wrong and they had to do it over. 15 takes later, he was like, "I like cookies" almost with tears in his eyes. "I cannot take one more bite of this." Then, we all burst out laughing. It was a good time, for sure. You got to be mindful as an actor about deciding to eat food in a scene because then you're married to it.

Why Nash loves Mexican food and omelets

Can you tell me a little bit about that? That's something I haven't ever really talked about with anybody during these interviews. Do you have to eat the food the same time every way? Or how does that work?

Every time. If I was talking to you right now and my line was, "Oh wow, I didn't know that," and I said, "Oh wow, I didn't know that," every time I said that on my coverage or your coverage or the why, if that gets us in a two shot, I would have to pick this up and drink whatever is in here. Sometimes, they get what's called, in our industry, a spit bucket because you just can't take it.

Have you ever had to use the spit bucket before for your stuff?

No, because I'm greedy.

In the meantime, when you're not eating on set and you're not going out, let's say you're tired and you want to go and pick up stuff, do you have a particular fast food you like when you don't have time to sit down and really go to a restaurant or eat something at home?

I love Mexican food, which is the reason why at IHOP, my favorite omelette is super spicy jalapeno, serrano peppers, [and] shredded beef. I could order that kind of food anywhere I go. If it's on the menu, that's what I'm getting.

The one food Nash wants to try more of

You don't have a particular fast food place? You wouldn't say, I love to go out at Taco Bell or I'll have to go and hit up a Chipotle when I have no time?

A favorite? No, but I definitely love that Mexican flare or spicy. Wherever I go, I want something spicy.

As a matter of fact, the last time I went to IHOP, I had the spicy omelette with the ... [it] has avocado on top and salsa and all of those things. My better half had a very spicy cheeseburger. It had all the peppers and onions and pepper jack cheese. We both had ... She had American, I had something with the more of a Mexican flare, but both spicy, because that's what we like.

In the big picture too, do you have any food bucket list? Goals? Do you ever want to go and try out either, particular restaurants you want to visit to or foods you want to try?

One of the things I'm interested in trying is Chinese food, but I would like to have it be really authentic. Travel there and bring me out, bring the things out. I want to sit here and ... we call it having an "around the world" in my industry, which is, we're going to taste a little bit of everything. I got that from Cedric the Entertainer. Every time I would go to a restaurant with Cedric, he would order everything off the menu, except for "Thank you, please come again."

Nash's next on-screen projects

Why Chinese particularly?

My better half eats it a lot, and I thought, sometimes, when you come to another part of the world, it can be a little more Americanized or a little more watered down from the authentic way something is made. I found that to be true when I went to Africa. I kept trying to order food that I recognize, and when I said, "Give me whatever the locals are eating," it was delicious. 

Where do you think you're going to go next, in terms of your next projects?

I'm working on something right now with my better half. We want to have our industries merge. She's a singer-songwriter. She plays instruments and I'm an actor. We want to try to figure out something we could do together. Right now, I shot a little something for "The Rookie." The hope there is that [it] turns into a spinoff called "The Rookie FBI," and who's the FBI agent? Me.

With all that being said, is there anything that you would like the Mashed readership to know about you as an actress and as a person and your whole relationship with food?

I am a person who does not deny myself. I feel like sometimes people have a weird relationship with food in that, they feel like, "I want it, but I shouldn't, I want it, but I can't, I want it, but I won't." If I want it, I'm having it.

How food brought Nash together with her partner

I think that's a great way to live.

I enjoy myself. When I sit down to have a meal, I plan for it to be joyous, because it's always a good time when you could sit down and break bread and fellowship over a meal. So many good things happen over a meal. I'm married to the person I'm married to now because we had a meal together and never stopped.

Was there actually a particular story about that. Did you meet over a meal?

We had crabs and rosé. How you think I got this ring?

Look at that! It wasn't a seafood boil, was it?

Well, we had snow crabs, potatoes and corn, all of the things, and here we are.

Hey, that's good. I'm glad to know that all that started over crabs. That's a really good story.

From crabs to pancakes. You see that? And we are still together.

Check out Niecy Nash's partnership with IHOP on Instagram, and download the IHOP app from Google Play or the App Store to start earning rewards.