Reality TV fans, rejoice: HGTV’s America’s Most Desperate Kitchens (AMDK), starring the Jersey born-and-bred cousins John Colaneri and Anthony Carrino, aka “The Cousins”, kicked off its second season with a double-episode premiere on July 16. To celebrate, the cousins held court at Talde, a Filipino-fusion restaurant in Jersey City that they designed and co-own.
Best of NJ sat down over drinks with the genial cousins to talk about work, family, design (of course) and their deep Jersey roots.
Best of NJ Interviews The Cousins
Best of NJ: Congratulations on your second season. What a nice way to become famous on reality TV, by showcasing your talent and actually helping people!
Anthony: Exactly, thank you. It’s feel-good television.
John: We love what we do, and just sharing this passion with so many people is amazing and humbling. We were never looking to be on TV, it’s just something that we stumbled onto and ran with it and we’re having a great time. I think that shows.
Best of NJ: Definitely. About TV: How realistic, time-wise, is the renovation process that we see on TV?
John: Completely real. It’s completely feasible to do a full-on kitchen renovation in three days. Where things get slowed down is when clients change their minds mid-way through a project, and go back and forth on decisions. That slows things up.
Best of NJ: So what makes a dream client?
Anthony: One who knows what they want! (laughs). Seriously, we have been lucky, we’ve always worked with great people.
Best of NJ: Do you have a favorite renovation project among all the ones you’ve done?
John: You know, we get asked that all the time and it’s really not possible to pin it down to one. Every project is so different but what we always strive to do is listen to our client’s individual needs and take into account the history and landscape and surrounding architecture of the project. We really value and consider those elements in the design process.
Best of NJ: I know you live here in Jersey City, Anthony…
Anthony: (Points to ceiling) Yup. Right upstairs.
Best of NJ: Where did you guys grow up in Jersey?
John: So, we both grew up in Bergen County. My dad and Anthony’s mom are brother and sister. I’m from Wyckoff, and Anthony’s from Franklin Lakes. My wife and daughter and I are in Ramsey now, but I’m here in Jersey City all the time.
Best of NJ: Your family’s company, Brunelleschi Construction is here. You’ve been a big part of the development boom in Jersey City.
Anthony: Yes, we started here in 2004. This town is in the middle of a huge Renaissance and it’s so exciting to live here, and we do have a lot of pride in whatever role we have had in the development. We love it here. There is so much happening and it’s so diverse. There’s like 65 languages spoken here. It’s a great, great town.
John: Starting out our business here is coming full-circle for us. Both our families came to Jersey City from Italy in the ’20s. Anthony’s family lived in the Italian Village section of downtown Jersey City, and my family opened up a cutlery business on Coles St., right around the block. It’s where our families met, and so for us to be here years later starting our construction business in Jersey City feels so incredible. It just means so much to us. We have such deep ties to this city and we love it, we really do. We take so much pride in our work here and being a part of this community.
Best of NJ: Switching gears for a moment: Tell us what we can expect from The Cousins in Season 2.
John: Fun. And a lot of laughs. We have never laughed so much as we did making this season. We had more fun shooting this season than ever, I think. Yes, it’s about design first and foremost, but seriously this season is so entertaining. We just couldn’t stop cracking up. We’ve been doing TV for 8 seasons now, and we are just completely comfortable with ourselves. There are some seriously hilarious scenes out there.
Best of NJ: Any particular design element about this season that you favored the most?
John: Well, we love all design obviously but we are really passionate about kitchens, so this show and the concept is a dream come true. We get to take peoples’ design fairy tales and turn them into reality. And this season in particular, the kitchens are very high-end.
Best of NJ: You are both very telegenic, obviously. What’s changed for you since becoming famous?
Anthony: Honestly, nothing at all. We are the same guys we have always been. We work hard and we play hard. We’ve got the same friends and family and all that, and the work is all that matters to us. It’s not something we think about at all. Although it’s crazy. We were in Italy and we walked by a full restaurant and the whole place cleared out and came out to see us. That’s kind of when it dawned on me. But we get up every day and go to work and have a good time, and that’s never going to change.
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