Pix 11 Lisa Mateo mom, wife, reporter, host and the list goes on, but whatever she does its with heart,soul and passion and the end product is success! As we continue our look at people in the media, we are sure you will be seeing and hearing more from Lisa Mateo.
Lisa, you are a Jersey girl and Brooklynite who has really climbed up the ladder at PIX 11. You write, produce, report, have done traffic and weather, anchor and have your own show "Celebrity Taste Makers.” How do you feel being raised a Jersey girl has helped your career and exactly where in New Jersey are you from?
I feel like I was raised in the best of both worlds. I grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and attended PS 104 until about fourth grade when my parents decided to move to New Jersey. Many of my childhood memories…learning how to ride a bike, taking my big wheel for rides down the sidewalk, watching the NY marathon and my accent are all New York. But my life lessons are New Jersey. I grew up in the small town of Leonia in Bergen County. This is where I made childhood friends and developed a love for writing. At Rutgers, I blossomed from a quiet, shy girl into a more confident woman. I wasn’t afraid to ask questions, in fact I always wanted to know more and do more. It’s that drive that got me to where I am at WPIX. I started as a production assistant and quickly worked my way to producer, traffic reporter, features and news reporter, weather reporter and news anchor. It wasn’t easy, as I had to prove myself, so I always stayed late, asked if anyone needed help, and worked every holiday.
How did you get your own show on WPIX, "Celebrity Taste Makers?”
The creator of Celebrity Taste Makers, Tony Monte, is a friend of our main anchor, Sukanya Krishnan, and always watched the PIX 11 Morning News. He saw me on air when I started doing traffic in the helicopter and loved how I lit up the screen. He said that if I could do that from a helicopter he knew I could do great things on my own show. I had a meeting with Tony and his partner, Melinda Martinez, and saw their passion behind what was just a concept at the time. The rest is history. We are currently in our fourth year of production and have more than 70 original episodes. I’ve had the honor of dining with a number of great celebrities, including Rita Moreno, Spike Lee, Mike Tyson, Kristin Chenoweth, Penn & Teller, Rupert Grint, Chazz Palminteri and Sandra Bernhard to name a few.
What has been your most memorable experience with PIX 11?
My most memorable experience at WPIX was 9-11. I was a producer at the time. Our program had just finished and we were getting out of our morning meeting. I remember hearing alerts coming in on the scanner from our assignment desk and looking at the reports popping up on CNN. Everyone sprang into action. But all I could keep thinking about was how my husband was about to come up off the subway at World Trade Center for work. Cell service was down. At PIX we started making calls to emergency personnel for the anchors to speak with on air and then finally I received the call I had been waiting for. My husband had gotten up from the subway to a dark World Trade with debris beginning to fall. No one knew what was happening. He rushed outside and looked up and that’s when he saw it on fire. He knew he would have to walk. A few blocks in he heard a rumbling and that’s when the first tower fell. Everyone ran. He made his way from the World Trade Center to our building on 42nd and 2nd…and so did everyone. The streets were filled with people covered in soot and just walking, still in shock. It was an eerie feeling. As producers, we talked with people on the street to get their reaction of what they witnessed. Their stories brought me to tears. I watched our reporters and anchors in awe of how they covered the story non-stop…and learned how difficult it is to separate yourself from a story, when you are actually living through it yourself. I was hooked. It was a day that I, as well as many Americans and the world, will never forget.
You are a prominent and proud Latina. Talk to us on what your heritage means to you?
My parents were born in Puerto Rico and moved here to the states when they were very young. My father was raised in Brooklyn and my mother in the South Bronx. Growing up, they only spoke English to my sisters and I at home, so we learned through school. I took it upon myself to continue it into college. Although we are not fluent in the language, the culture is a part of our soul. The food, the music, the art, the family gatherings, and most of all the passion. My father always taught me that I had to work even harder in life as I was not only a minority, but a woman as well. My heritage is what makes me who I am.
Lisa Mateo is … dedicated and determined. Whether it’s to my family or job, I give my all in everything I do.
Actor Danny Aiello is not only a friend and a fan of yours, but has become the Executive Producer of " Celebrity Taste Makers" how did they come to be?
The creator of Celebrity Taste Makers, Tony Monte, was walking in Soho and saw Danny Aiello on the street. He approached him about being a guest on the show. Danny saw the exact same passion I saw in Tony. He agreed to an episode and stayed in touch with Tony. It was just a natural progression to ask Danny to play a bigger role in the show, and he did it without hesitation.
What’s your favorite recipe and why?
My favorite recipe is my own healthy twist on a Latino dish called Picadillo. Rather than ground beef, I use ground turkey and make it with sofrito (onions, peppers, garlic mixture) tomato sauce, 1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables and salt and pepper, and serve it over brown rice. I love this recipe because of its cultural connection, but also because it is healthy and quick to make. Being as I’m up at 2 am every day for the news, filming Celebrity Taste Makers on different days, doing mommy duties for my 2 kids, and now starting a fitness coaching business, I’m all about quick and healthy meals.