In advance of Paula Deen's live cooking shows in Savannah on Aug. 8 and 15, we asked the Queen of Southern Cuisine about Savannah's food scene, what she cooks for her family and what to expect from her new digital cooking network coming out this fall.
Question. If guests are coming over for dinner, what's one dish you always have on the table?
Deen. It depends on whom I'm cooking for, because I always try to cook what whoever I'm feeding loves. I've got houseguests right now. Last night I made chicken and waffles. And it just melted in your mouth. It was so sweet and savory.
We also do a lot of Lowcountry boil. It's a one-pot wonder. You can feed a lot of people with just that one pot and a loaf of French bread.
Q. Is there a dish your grown sons still request you make for them?
Deen. When Jamie wants me to cook for him, it's always fried pork chops. That's not something he gets at home. He and Brooke -- they have been married nine years -- have never fried anything in their home. So if Jamie wants something fried, he knows he has to come to mama's house to get it.
Bobby, since he was a little bitty boy, loves his mama's goulash. That's what I cook every birthday for him.
Michael adores it when I fix him ox tails. He is a happy camper when he smells that pot a-goin'.
Q. What about your grandkids? What do you cook for them? What treats do you want them to know you for?
Deen. My grandkids are at the age where they love a store-bought popsicle. They don't appreciate any one food yet. Their taste buds are still undeveloped. But right now they especially like grilled cheese.
Q. Savannah has a been growing its reputation as a food destination. What do you think about the city becoming a food hot spot?
Deen. I'm amazed. Savannah is becoming known for the cuisine. We have a wonderful variety here. The only thing that Savannah is really missing for me is a top, top notch barbecue house.
There's a couple of us, myself and Mrs. Wilkes, who have homed in on the authentic Southern cuisine.
The thing I love about Savannah is that most of these places are locally owned. It's not like you're getting the same something that people in Washington state would get from a freezer truck.
Q. What is a favorite summer recipe you share on the show?
Deen. I've got lots. I have so many favorites that I couldn't name them all. There are a ton on the new network. We have different sections. For example, there's an ethnic section, light fare, quick meals and Five and Dime, which is five ingredients in 10 minutes. There's a lot of variety. Follow reporter Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.