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Coffee Hacks and Croissant Secrets With SNL’s Heidi Gardner

A chat with the comedian about her favorite foods and funniest characters

Original Heidi Gardner photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty

Over the last two seasons of SNL, Heidi Gardner has brought several hilarious characters to Weekend Update, including teen movie critic Bailey Gismert, and Angel, the girlfriend in every boxing movie. Last month, Gardner also memorably played a nervous Goop employee named Baskin Johns opposite surprise guest star Gwyneth Paltrow, who played another equally bewildered staffer of the lifestyle brand. Since she clearly has a knack for lampooning the world of influencers and Instagram stars, we thought Gardner would be the perfect candidate for The Famous Original Eater Questionnaire. During a break from work on this weekend’s Emma Stone-hosted episode of SNL, Gardner hopped on the phone to discuss her favorite food and drinks, as well as what it was like to work with Gwyneth on their hilarious Weekend Update segment.

Welcome to The Famous Original Eater Questionnaire. What was the last thing you ate?
Heidi Gardner: I just made a bowl of mixed nuts. So I had some walnuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds.

What was the last thing you drank?
I made a coffee, and I’ve been blending a teaspoon of almond butter and a date into my coffee in the morning. My friend was doing it as her, like, new way to have a latte in the morning, so I’m copying her.

You put a whole date in there?
The dates I bought are kind of gigantic, so I do half of one. And then it’s weird; the almond butter gives it this foamy creaminess.

When and where was the last time you had a hot dog?
Oh my gosh, a hot dog. I think that I had a bite of a Dodger Dog, and I think it was good, but I’m more of a kielbasa or sausage person.

What do you want to eat right this second, aside from the mixed nuts that you made?
I really like a good scone. There’s a coffee shop down the street from me that has really good scones. It’s called Ninth Street Espresso, but I think they get their scones from some bakery.

What was your relationship to Goop like before you played Baskin Johns on SNL? Did you follow the blog? Did you read Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook? And what was the inspiration behind that character?
Yeah, I follow them on Instagram, and I’m always kind of fascinated by how clean and healthy and glowing everyone involved in Goop is and looks. And I just had a sketch that I had tried other places that never really worked about a girl who just couldn’t remember her product knowledge. And then there was a week that was Goop’s tenth anniversary where I was like, “Oh, maybe if she forgot all her Goop, that could work.”

What was it like playing Baskin Johns alongside Gwyneth Paltrow?
When I found out it was going to happen I screamed into my hands, because I’ve been such a fan forever. And she’s one of those… she’s a movie star. I just couldn’t believe it, and it was amazing. She was so much fun and just down for whatever — she just immediately jumped on board. She read the script once, got it, and was just a true delight.

She totally seems to get the humor of that character in that sketch.
Yeah, it was really cool.

What’s the inspiration behind Instagram star Brie Bacardi and her boyfriend?
I think that’s [inspired by] years of either being in a relationship or watching friends in a relationship. I would love to say I’ve never been that girl, but that’s a lie. [It’s about] those moments that we have of insecurity, and when we choose to show it to people, and sometimes what monsters we can all be. But yeah, it’s the most heightened version of lots of things I’ve seen — or been, I’ll admit it.

Are there any foods or restaurants you’ve never tried that are on your list?
You know, anything that you see on the show Chef’s Table that involves gastronomy — like, magic food. I feel like I’ve never tried those... balloons or pillows of air that also taste good. I would like to try that.

What’s your favorite drink?
I always had a hard time with this, because I was always like, “I don’t have a drink.” I really like a margarita, but I feel like you don’t always want something that extra. But lately it’s been Lambrusco. I feel like, “Oh, I really like this.” I’ve been having a lot of luck.

What’s your universal dinner party soundtrack?
Usually it’s the “chill” station on Apple, but also, I feel like also the band Tame Impala suits that really well. It’s ambient, and you’re like, “Oh this is good. I can ignore it at moments, but it’s also filling the room.”

What’s your favorite chain restaurants?
I really like Chili’s. I always have, since I was little. And I like Shake Shack. I think the burger there is phenomenal.

At Shake Shack, do you get the standard cheeseburger, or do you get like the SmokeShack or some other more elaborate creation?
I do the standard cheeseburger, but this summer they were doing a spicy chicken thing, and even that was phenomenal.

I’ve heard that the week before filming SNL is pretty intense. Do you have a food regimen? Do you bring stuff with you or try to eat healthy? Or do you just eat whatever’s good and available?
I feel like I’m still figuring that out, embarrassingly so. Last year it was a lot of candy, because there were so many late nights and you’re just grabbing for something and just want a little bit of energy, and so it was a lot of gummies and Skittles. But then, you know, you don’t feel so great after. So this year, I’m trying to be a little better about packing snacks for energy — like, actual good energy. And I am also kind of a coffee and matcha fiend.

What is your “Proust’s madeleine”?
It would be... well we called it in my family Top Ray-men, which now I know is Top Ramen. But my Bampo — that’s my grandpa — he would cook me Top Ramen on a daily basis. That and orange popsicles.

Is there any food secret that you think more people should know about?
This is going to be controversial, but I think that the croissants in America are better than the croissants in France. And I’m saying this because there are particular places, especially in LA, where I think it’s like they tried the croissants in France and were like, “These are the best ever.” And then they worked so hard at mastering it and bringing it to the states that now Paris needs to up their game — like, I think Paris got lazy. In particular, Proof Bakery and the Village Bakery, which are both in Atwater Village, have the best croissants in the world.

All editions of the Famous Original Eater Questionnaire [E]