BOSTON – She’s an actress, journalist, beauty contest winner, TV host, star celebrity, an erstwhile professional wrestler who beat brain cancer, and now Maria Menounos is bringing organic Greek food to a canteen at Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, to compete with hot dogs, and perhaps peanuts and Crackerjacks.
Menounos, 39, three months after surgery to remove a benign meningioma brain tumor, says she’s getting better every day while helping her mother deal with the same illness that nearly overwhelmed the popular family from nearby Medford, where she grew up.
She said she has a new outlook on life now and will open Maria’s Greek Kitchen Sept. 4 at the famed ballpark, with only a few weeks left in the regular season – before the playoffs beckon for the first-place Bosox, who own the sports hearts of New England.
“I used to sell sausages out here, and at Patriots games, and I never got to go in,” Menounos said, crying as she stood with fiance Keven Undergaro, as well as her parents, Costas and Litsa Menounos, the Boston Herald reported.
She said that her goal is to make “eating healthy simple at a game, after health issues “we have been facing in our family”.
She jumped on Instagram to give the news. “Excited to give you a sneak peek of my new concept w/ @aramarkSports at Fenway Park! #MariasGreekKitchen” launches Labor Day…I’ve been working on this for a long time. Don’t get me wrong I love me some nachos and hot dogs but sometimes you want something healthier. My goal was to make eating healthy simple at a game,” Menounos said.
“Everything is organic too which was important to me after the health issues we have been facing in our family. Some of the ingredients are sourced right upstairs on the fenway roof top garden! If you like this idea share this post with friends who may wanna visit:) I will be there Monday hoping to see everyone enjoy it! Post pics with the hashtag #MariasGreekKitchen if you try something and like it! Your support will mean the world,” she added.
An Emmy winner, CEO of AfterBuzz TV Network and a New York Times best-selling author said she knows she’s competing with traditional ballpark goodies but thinks fans will go for her gyros: “The Greekest thing you can have!” she told the paper.
“We threw my mom a big party this weekend and we had two gyro machines going,” Menounos said, celebrating another year of life since her mother was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Her Fenway food stall, which is located next to Savenor’s, has been a group effort alongside food and beverage partner Aramark, she said and that with the health problems her family has she wanted to show off healthy food, Greek-style.
“I’m just so much calmer I think because I just see things so differently now. I think being still is so important,” she told The Today show, where she had been a co-host for a few episodes.
“I did see this all as a gift. I did shift everything into positives throughout this whole journey and I think that’s really important because we are all going to have really hard times in life. It’s how we respond, how we react, how we shift to see the good. Because out of every bad thing, something good comes if you see it, if you open your mind to it,” she said, adding that she does have some lingering symptoms.
She has made television appearances in the USA as a TV correspondent for Today, Access Hollywood, Extra, and abroad for co-hosting the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 in Athens, home of her heritage. Her parents worked as janitors at a Boston nightclub.
In 1996, she won the Miss Massachusetts Teen USA contest and competed in the national event where she placed in the top fifteen finalists. She was first runner-up in the Miss Massachusetts 2000 contest.
Menounos attended Boston’s Emerson College, where she participated in the organization Emerson Independent Video and was graduated in 2000.
During her senior year at Emerson, Menounos worked as a reporter for Channel One News. For her 10-minute segments, she traveled to El Salvador to report on the 2001 El Salvador earthquakes, interviewed NATO aircrew members aboard an E-3 AWACS plane during the military alliance’s Operation Eagle Assist.
Entertainment Tonight hired Menounos as a correspondent in 2002. She left the program in 2005 to focus on her acting career and joined rival program Access Hollywood as a correspondent and was host of the E! show.
“Overall, I feel so lucky to be functioning and to be almost normal and to not have cancer,” she added to the Today show, although she she still has a hard time chewing on her right side and gets dizzy if she moves her head too quickly — but those were small issues compared to what her mother is going through.
Her mom, Litsa, has stage 4 brain cancer. “It’s a process. And right now, she’s stable and doing well…It’s an emotional ride,” said Menounos.