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The Brini-ish Invasion

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By James Geneau

It was 1998, the height of the Clinton economic expansion run, and the United States was seeing the best time for growth since the 1950s. In New York, everyone was making deals, winning big on Silicon Valley upstarts, and getting hyped up over where the next Dean and Deluca would open. Cooking and entertaining at home was back in style again, like it was in the 1950s, and in true New York fashion, a young "lady" launched a cable access show that would become a cult phenomenon.

Brini Maxwell was part Doris Day, part Mary Tyler Moore and a little bit of Martha rolled up into one. She was entertaining, poised, and full of great little ideas to make the home a better place. She was a lot of things that appealed to New Yorkers at the time but probably the biggest part of her success was who she was behind the camera: Ben Sander.

Ben Sander was born in the Boston area and moved to Ohio where he grew up. After high school, he attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and began working in the fashion industry in New York. His character, Brini Maxwell, started to become a big part of Ben's life in New York City and eventually grew to become an underground icon in The Big Apple. Always looking for a platform to share her wealth of knowledge with the world, Brini launched her cable access series, and the rest was history.

The Brini Maxwell show was shot from Ben's stylish 1960s decorated apartment in New York. It was kitsch and entertaining, quickly becoming a must-see show on New York cable access. The local fan base grew and eventually, Brini landed a 2-year series on the Style Network, a book, and a DVD series. Across America, fans tuned in to see a not-so-traditional hostess share her secrets for entertaining, cooking, and being a model domestic guru.

At the time, comfort food was all the rage and The Brini Maxwell Show pioneered the concept of "going back to basics". Each food-focused episode involved the execution of a classic recipe in a humorous manner using retro-equipment from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Devilled Eggs, Swedish Meatballs, and other classic retro dishes were re-introduced to a generation raised on fast-food, pre-packaged salads, and flavoured coffee drinks. With Brini, you could learn how to make a classic retro recipe in less than 5 minutes and have fun doing it. Unlike other cable network shows, Brini's cooking wasn't about learning something to make you better than the neighbours; it was about being a better person in general. These values made the show a hit along with the unorthodox hostess and cast of friends making appearances each week to entertain audiences.

Then American culture changed. Over the next eight years the country would struggle with itself over what kind of values the people cherished. The Brini Maxwell Show had been seen in the US, Australia, the Philippines and South Africa and fans abroad questioned if Brini, the domestic goddess of New York, would continue to lay-low or surprise us with something new. Well, in true Brini style, she opted for something new. She moved to the internet and began offering podcasts on NPR with her good tips for exceptional living. She started her own line of beautiful home furnishings for Felix Populi, one of New York's most stylish home decor studios, and in 2008, began filming new video segments for on-line broadcast. A true American girl, she knew that nobody could keep her unique style of entertainment and helpful hints for domestic perfection in the shadows - no matter how big the "bushes" were she had to manoeuvre around.

And so, she overcame the challenges of the past eight years and her fans stayed loyal. And now she is heading north to Canada to be part of Gremolata.com. Starting in January 2009, Gremolata will be re-airing segments from the original cable access show along with some new pieces never before seen by fans. In addition, Brini will be sharing her thoughts on the New York food and drink scene as well as entertaining and cooking ideas in unique blog entries like a true domestic guru.

Every episode is full of wit, charm, and valuable information for any foodie. At Gremolata, we love having a diverse group of content partners. After all, our goal is to make food and drink informative, fun and entertaining. The Brini Maxwell Show brings a fresh, unorthodox, and valuable series to our list of fantastic experts.

Let the Brini-ish Invasion begin.

  Watch The Trailor for Brini and Mary Ellen's Trip to Join Gremolata.com in Canada


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