Stanley Tucci Reflects on His Relationship with Food After Cancer: ‘You Appreciate It Much More’

published Jan 28, 2022
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Director Stanley Tucci attends a meet and greet with the cast of Broadway's "Lend Me a Tenor" at The New 42nd Street Studios on February 25, 2010 in New York City.
Credit: Getty Images | Jemal Countess | Staff

Stanley Tucci is much more than what meets the eye. For decades, he’s kept us busy watching him in one iconic film after another, but today he’s doubling down on his work in food, and we can’t get enough.

The The Devil Wears Prada star is no stranger to cooking — growing up in an Italian-American home is what kickstarted his life-long relationship with the kitchen — but after a recent bout with oral cancer, Tucci is telling the world just how much food means to him.

In a recent interview with TODAY, Tucci, who is thankfully now in remission, opened up about how he couldn’t eat or taste most foods during his treatments. The loss was not only difficult, but life-altering for the award-winning actor.

“It was hard because I could taste everything, but I couldn’t necessarily swallow,” Tucci told the hosts. “I had to chew it for 10 minutes to get it down my throat… [Other times] I just had to get rid of the food.”

While chatting it up with the TODAY crew, he also expressed that food is “the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night.” His renewed and — what he describes as — “heightened sense of taste and smell,” led to the 2021 release of his memoir, Taste: My Life Through Food as well as the debut of a new TV series. In the six-part food series, appropriately named Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, viewers follow him into family kitchens and restaurants on his quest to find everything from the best Sicilian pasta to the greatest mozzarella in Italy. 

Following up that the thought of losing his taste outweighed the fear of dying, Tucci stated, “I mean, if you can’t eat and enjoy food, how are you going to enjoy anything else?” I’m right there with you, Tucci.

Considering himself to be “very lucky” to receive his sense of taste back after overcoming cancer, Tucci told the hosts that his appreciation for food is much higher. “When you’re forced to go without something that you love, just like when you’re forced to go without someone that you love, you appreciate them (and/or it) much more when you’re able to have it back if you’re lucky enough to have it back.”

Now, Tucci notes that both his senses of smell and taste are back and in fact, they’re better than ever. And if you happen to be a fan of Tucci’s long-standing contributions to the food world, you’ll be more than happy to hear that news.

The second season of Tucci’s highly-rated Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy series is set to return on CNN on Sunday, March 13 at 9 p.m. EST.