Bobby Deen for years has always had the “son of Paula Deen” descriptor next to his name.
His first solo TV show “Not My Mama’s Meals,” won’t change that. The premise of the show, which debuted Wednesday night on the Cooking Channel, is Dean re-creating his mom’s classic decadent, calorie-laden recipes and making them healthier without sacrificing flavor.
Efforts range from “no fry” apple pies to Krispy Kreme bread pudding (a hint: use whole wheat doughnuts and fruit instead). For red velvet cake, he reduces it to a cupcake, cuts down the sugar and uses beets to make it red as opposed to artificial coloring. And for fried chicken, he takes the fattening skin off and replaces it with cornflakes attached via egg white wash. Cornflakes “don’t add flavor but add texture and fiber,” he said. “It tricks your mouth since it’s a crust” into thinking it’s like a skin.
Bobby frequently cuts calories and fat grams by more than half. He then on the show has his mom taste the dishes (usually by mailing them to her). So far, he said, she has liked 95 percent of what he has given her, though he did admit that she may be a wee bit biased.
Paula does not take offense to her son’s challenges. Rather, she embraces them. She physically shows up in two of the first 10 episodes but literally phones it in the other times from Savannah, while he tapes the show in New York City. “She’s happy for me to get this opportunity,” he said, and does not take his healthier approach as a rebuke of her food aesthetic.
“I’m not turning my back on my heritage or wagging my finger in people’s faces,” he said.
Bobby brings in friends and leaves the kitchen set frequently. “It’s almost like a sitcom,” he noted in a phone interview Thursday. “It’s shot with multiple cameras. We move in multiple rooms, out on the street. It’s a cool-looking show.”
He embraced exercise a decade ago and his diet subsequently improved. “I don’t try to live a perfect life,” he said. “I live in balance. I indulge from time to time. We only live once.” He has a Marine as a trainer and practices jujitsu.
Deen did admit that not every attempt worked. Fried green tomatoes, he noted, cannot possibly be replicated without the frying. “You can’t put panko on it and bake it and expect the same result,” he said.
“Not My Mama’s Meals”
9 p.m., Wednesdays, Cooking Channel.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk