What better way to get to know someone than with food — family recipes, holiday dishes, favorite snacks? Homemade Live!, GBH Lifestyles’ newest program, features chef Joel Gamoran and his celebrity friends as they share memories, laugh and make delicious food.
In 10 half-hour episodes, viewers will get to know Kathy Lee Gifford, Reggie Bush, Crystal Kung Minkoff and Nigel Barker among others as they share stories of food flops, celebrated successes and treasured family dishes. Seattle-based Gamoran, who attended the Culinary Institute of America and the Culinary Institute of Florence, was for 10 years the national chef for kitchen retailer Sur La Table.
“I taught thousands of classes to probably hundreds of thousands of people,” he said. “I started to understand how a home cook spoke — I’d see their eyes wander when I got too chef-y and science-y.”
That down-to-earth approach has attracted 3.5 million viewers online who have watched 50 million minutes of his free lessons. A regular guest on The Today Show, Gamoran previously hosted Scraps on A&E and wrote the book Cooking Scrappy, both of which focus on reducing food waste.
“Joel is a really creative, great chef, environmentally conscious, funny and self-deprecating,” said GBH Lifestyles Executive Producer Laurie Donnelly. “He’s very relatable.”
“Food has gotten very intimidating over the years,” said Gamoran. “Chefs are a big thing, and on social media all the food looks perfect. I like to think that I'm the opposite.”
The season’s half-hour shows are filmed before a live audience with a diverse group of celebrities, including the younger generation, with New York Times bestselling author J. Kenji López-Alt, Etsy trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson and culinary creator Nick Digiovanni, who has more than 12 million subscribers on YouTube.
“If you're a skateboarder and you hear that Tony Hawk ate a really great chicken soup when he was sick growing up, then you might make chicken soup because it's Tony Hawk's soup,” said Gamoran.
Beyond its star-studded cast and homey vibe, Homemade Live! has a greater purpose, said Donnelly.
“Every show that GBH Lifestyles does has an underlying educational mission, but it's not always explicit,” she said. “Joel focuses on how to stop wasting food — which is a huge environmental problem, how to stop wasting money and still be able to eat foods that you love.”
Gamoran is no stranger to public media, having grown up watching Sesame Street (where he was fortunate enough to be a guest chef a few years ago) and discovering the wonders of Julia Child. His partnership with GBH’s Donnelly was “awesome,” he said. “No one understands how to reach the PBS audience like GBH.”
Gamoran, whose first cooking experience was making cornbread from a mix, says cooking has not only been a professional boon, it’s helped him cope with life’s ups and downs. “I had a lot of anxiety in high school, and I noticed that rolling dough, whisking sauces and searing meats very much calmed me. I just haven't looked back.”
With Homemade Live! he hopes to set the stage for others to make that discovery. “My goal is to evangelize cooking. Cooking is my religion and I want to spread it to the very farthest reaches of the earth.”
Homemade Live! premiered on November 11 and airs Saturdays at 1pm on GBH 2.