Fans of Trisha Yearwood--both her music and the two cookbooks she's authored--are no doubt looking forward to her new show on the Food Network, Trisha's Southern Kitchen, which debuts April 14. The singer plans to invite viewers into her home to enjoy family stories and whip up some tasty dishes together. However, many folks might be surprised at some of the meal plans Yearwood's got on her agenda.
In addition to paying tribute to her favorite southern-comfort foods, Yearwood is making sure her series has a focus on healthy eating--including vegetarian and vegan cuisine. She explains this is her way of paying tribute to her late mother, who passed away last October from cancer.
During the later stages of her illness, Yearwood's mother decided to switch to a plant-based diet, and learned how to alter a variety of recipes as a result. "I really wanted to address that in the show," Yearwood explains. "We were amazed at how she took some of these very southern butter-and-cream-laden recipes and turned them into non-dairy things to eat. She really inspired me."
Yearwood isn't just doing this for the benefit of the cameras. She notes that she's actually putting it into practice on a daily basis when cooking for husband Garth Brooks and their three teenage girls. She encourages a "veggie night" for dinner each week (gathering the family together to all help chop and prepare) and is continually working on modifying recipes to be healthier.
"My family are guinea pigs," she says. "I kind of feel like I'm doing 'Cooking 101' now, because I'm learning all over again."
Don't worry, though--Yearwood assures that there will still be some good ol' fashioned favorites on the show's menu. She also promises that the six-episode series will be lots of fun, including appearances from family members and friends, with a lot of "cutting up."
"I wasn't interested in a show where I was sitting behind a kitchen counter," she says, adding that she's watched playbacks of the show and found them enjoyable--something that's difficult for her, since she's usually critical of herself on film. "I watched myself and I laughed," she explains. "And I thought, if I'm watching myself and I'm laughing--that's pretty good."
Yearwood even managed to make sure her first love--music--was included in the show. "I wanted to incorporate music where it felt natural," she says. "So there are a couple episodes where we incorporate music where it felt good."
In one episode, she jams with her sister: "We sat down and did a song we hadn't done in probably 20 years--we kind of butchered it, but it was fun." In another episode, Yearwood performs a very special number at a baby shower. "One of my best friends [adopted] a baby from Russia, and I did a lullaby for her as a gift."
One family member fans are probably wondering about is Yearwood's superstar husband. Will Brooks make an appearance on the show? Yearwood says not yet, although it's not out of the question for subsequent seasons. "Maybe in the future," she notes. "I told the network I want to wait. I wanted to do it on my own at first...make sure I was comfortable first. He would do anything I wanted, but I didn't want to put him in a situation until I'd kind of felt it out."
If Brooks does join the show, Yearwood is sure he'll be great. "He is also a really good cook," she relates. "If I'm not cooking in the kitchen, he is, and he's much more creative in the kitchen--creating dishes that I'd never even think of!"
Yearwood's stepdaughters won't be seen, either, as Brooks and Yearwood understandably want to protect their privacy. However, cooking talent seems to run in the family: "Our youngest really likes to cook," Yearwood says.
Although she's devoted to her kitchen and thrilled about the debut of her new program, Yearwood admits music is really what makes her tick. To that end, she reveals that she's currently working on an album; her first of new material in several years. "I started it last year, but last year was a crazy year with my mom's illness. She got really sick and everything went on the back burner," she explains. "It's just in the last month or so that I've come out of that fog and I'm ready to get back to it."
She notes that she's been traveling to Nashville in order to work on the new material. "I've got about halfway done with it. My goal--probably ambitious--is to have something out by the end of the year.
"I'm excited about it because music makes me happy, it's what I feel I have to do."
Trisha's Southern Kitchen premieres Saturday April 14 on the Food Network at 10:30 a.m./9:30 CT. Be sure to tune in and let me know what you think!