As it turns out, Vanderpump Rules’ Tom Schwartz is remarkably unruffled—far, far more than Bravo’s production team lets on. Don’t get me wrong: Over the phone, Schwartz—a former model—remains just as charming, easily distracted, and prone to childlike bursts of whimsy as has been portrayed on the restaurant-industry reality show for eight years. But alongside costar Tom Sandoval, he now owns a partial stake in Lisa and Ken Vanderpump’s TomTom bar and restaurant. He’s also surprisingly serene for someone who has thrown a rooftop pool funeral for a dead lizard (RIP, Dawg) and gotten into alcohol-fueled feuds with his best friends for the entertainment of millions of viewers. (If you've never seen Vanderpump Rules before, those two anecdotes more or less sum it up.)
At home in Los Angeles’s Valley Village, Schwartz prefers to spend his time binging Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, attempting to achieve salsa nirvana, and going down YouTube rabbit holes in search of workouts. And, sometimes, he gets drunk and paints portraits of his wife.
On the heels of Vanderpump Rules’ eighth season finale, GQ chatted with the 37-year-old about the West Hollywood food haunts he’s missing most, how he’s trying to help laid-off staffers at TomTom during the pandemic, and the “kitchen-sink smoothie” that his wife thinks tastes "like shit."
For Real-Life Diet, GQ talks to athletes, celebrities, and everyone in-between about their diet, exercise routines, and pursuit of wellness. Keep in mind that what works for them might not necessarily be healthy for you.
GQ: How have you been feeling in quarantine?
Tom Schwartz: I was listening to an interview with Stephen King on Terry Gross’s Fresh Air on NPR. King described it as a “gnawing anxiety,” and I thought that was a great description. A gnawing anxiety but also cautiously optimistic. I’m very grateful to have a home to be hunkered down in with my wife [Katie Maloney] and my dogs. I try not to spend too much time on the internet panic scrolling. I'm trying to stay informed, but I’m feeling slightly numb and desensitized.
Part of me wants to be doing more. We had to let everybody at TomTom go so they could get unemployment. Me and Tom [Sandoval] did a fundraiser campaign with Cameo; we were able to raise $50,000 for our staff. We gave 100 percent of the money we raised to all of our 68 employees. That was a really good feeling.
I'm cautiously optimistic that maybe we can reopen by July, but who knows? It's ever-changing. The uncertainty is a killer. And I know a lot of restaurants and bars are going under and are not going to be able to make it back, and that’s really tragic.
How have you been managing all those emotions and anxieties?
Overall, I've been doing a pretty good job at staying balanced. Falling apart here and there. Maybe drinking a little too much, but then overcompensating on my days when I'm not drinking and just working out a bunch. I’m very, very, very fortunate to have just gotten a NordicTrack treadmill. Although, with COVID, they wouldn't bring it upstairs. So I recruited Tom Sandoval to help with that. We've both been quarantined, so we've been in touch with each other. It was a Herculean task getting that thing upstairs. It took four hours, but we did it. We’ve also got the Peloton bike.
Coming into this, I had just finished five months of training with my friend and trainer, Alfred Kendrick from Fit Arts. He's a capoeira master and a personal trainer. We did lots of stuff with my body weight—he gets you lean and mean. I came into quarantine in pretty darn good shape, and I feel like I'm maintaining. I'm maintaining my sanity, my physical health, and my mental health.
What else have you been doing with this time? Any other forms of wellness?
There are days I’ll write my schedule out. I won’t always abide by that schedule, but it feels good to have some structure. Working out is my meditation. Sitting with the dogs, that's my meditation. I find myself talking to the dogs a lot. I've also been painting. I bought four giant canvases and painted Katie. It's kind of strange and terrible. There was alcohol involved. Lots of podcasts too. And I'm a bedroom DJ. I've been practicing my craft and getting a little better.
I've been trying to read more. I just started reading The Alchemist. It's a classic. Eminem's memoir—did you know he wrote a memoir? And Setting the Table. It’s a great book about business and the customer-service industry. Every time I read that, I get sad and yearn for TomTom. I miss going in there and seeing everybody.
How often are you working out? Are you mostly doing cardio?
I'm somewhat regimented. I'm probably working out five days a week. Maybe I'm doing too much cardio and not enough strength training, but [with regard to] my cardiovascular health, I feel like I'm in great shape. But I'm getting a little soft around the edges. I've been eating a lot, trying to do our part and order from local restaurants. We've been cooking a lot too. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables. I do this thing in the morning where I take every single fruit and vegetable and supplement I have—I call it the “kitchen-sink smoothie”—and blend it up. I like to start my day with that. Keep the immune system strong and fortified.
Does that taste good?
Katie jokingly calls them my “shit smoothies.” But I stand by my smoothies. I like to put celery, carrots, raspberries, blueberries, and a little bit of orange juice in them. I also add green supplements, chaga mushrooms, mulberries, matcha powder, goji berries, Blue Majik—I don't even know what Blue Majik does. I don't even know what half this stuff does.
Has your diet changed at all in quarantine?
Too much takeout probably. But overall, we're pretty disciplined about our diets. Every once in a while, it's fun to eat a whole pizza. For the most part it's pretty well-balanced. I love cooking breakfast—omelets and breakfast sandwiches. Oh, and breakfast burritos. Those are my jam.
What’s your breakfast burrito recipe?
I like to do two eggs with one egg white, jalapeños, spinach or broccoli, and lots of hot sauce. I have 10 different hot sauces. I've also been on a lifelong quest to create the perfect salsa, but I've never achieved perfection or anything near it.
What do you think makes the perfect salsa?
I like restaurant style. It's all about consistency for me. It's got to be perfectly spicy but not eyes-watering, nose-dripping spicy. My favorite package store salsa is Trader Joe's Salsa Especial. I'll easily eat a whole tub in a sitting. I'm somewhat of a salsa connoisseur.
Do you follow any particular diets?
I follow a mostly vegetarian diet. Although, I'll eat red meat occasionally. Definitely love a good cheeseburger. I love grilling chicken. But I'm on a veggie kick. Being in California, there are so many great vegan and vegetarian restaurants.
What's your favorite vegetarian spot in L.A.?
I really, really like Gracias Madre. They have this coconut ceviche that’s so good. And Crossroads on Melrose. Their rigatoni. They use the Impossible meat or Beyond meat, and you cannot tell the difference between that and real meat. It's got so much flavor—Beyond meat is the future, big fan. Have you been to Crossroads?
No, I haven’t. I’m out in New York.
New York's my favorite city in the world. My heart goes out to New York right now. I love the food scene there. I feel special when I'm in New York. I don't feel special when I'm in L.A.
Did the vegetarian-heavy lifestyle start when you were modeling?
No, when I was modeling I didn't have any money, so I was really lean. But overall, now, I’m just trying to eat a cleaner, healthier diet. Less red meat, less sugar. I used to be a candy junkie. I love Haribo sugar gummies. I would binge-eat candy until I'd get sick, and I loved it. But it had to come to an end. So now lots of fresh vegetables—I can't believe how far I've come with vegetables. It used to be torture for me to eat them as a young man. But I love broccoli now. I'm obsessed with cabbage. Am I being boring?
Ha, no, some people find cabbage fascinating. You mentioned a ton of L.A. places you love to eat at. Do you actually eat at any of Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurants?
I love eating at Sur. My favorite meal there is the salmon with mashed potatoes and broccoli. It's such good salmon. They always take the skin off, but it's so crispy. I love having dinner there, and then maybe a cocktail at Pump, and then I like to finish at TomTom. I miss doing the Vandercrawl.
What's your favorite drunk food?
Do I have to pick one? Probably a good, spicy chicken-cheese-jalapeño quesadilla. Shout-out to King's Road Cafe on Beverly—they have maybe the best breakfast quesadilla of all time. I'm salivating just thinking about it.
Favorite hangover food?
I'm not trying to get shit-faced anymore... I like to maintain balance. But being hungover is a luxury. People should embrace it. I drink tons of water too. I'm a hydro-homie.
Did you just make up that phrase?
No, it's a weird little subreddit.
What about your go-to cocktail?
I love beer. Tom Sandoval and I are working on a whiskey right now. I'm excited about that. I created a margarita recently that I'm proud of: It’s matcha, lychee, fresh lemon juice, Patron tequila, and vanilla-infused agave. It's so good. Sometimes I'll look at chefs' pairing menus online and experiment. I like using basil and herbs in cocktails. I love matcha in cocktails. In fact, I'm gonna make a matcha smoothie right now.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Streamer Tim Betar works hard at staying healthy while spending hours a day working from home, trying not to lose his mind (relatable!).
Originally Appeared on GQ