Paula, Jamie and Bobby Deen sit down with us to talk about the power of mothers, family and food.
Paula, did you try to cultivate an appreciation for food in your sons?
For generations our lives have been all about the family and gathering them around the dinner table. When my boys were youngsters we would visit with family who hosted the most memorable holiday dinners. We all love those memories. And it’s not about fancy meals. It just seems so amazing how families let down their guard at the kitchen table and talk. Food and the heart -- it's just so natural.
Jamie and Bobby, how did your mother influence your relationship with food?
Jamie: Momma was the first person I ever associated with food. I saw her in the kitchen and always loved to eat whatever it was she was fixin’ so I just felt like I should learn from her at an early age.
Bobby: I love good, old fashioned, southern comfort food. Turnip greens, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese. Cornbread. Peach cobbler. Sweet tea. We had a gallon of sweet tea on the table at every meal, including breakfast. I learned to appreciate the love and effort that goes into a home cooked meal. That's because of mama. I don't eat that way every day, but I love and appreciate it.
What does food signify to you?
Jamie: Love. I cook for the people I love the most, and to see them satisfied after a good, hearty meal satisfies me.
Bobby: Food to me signifies love and family. Growing up in the south, food, friends, and family were all intertwined. I have wonderful memories of Sunday lunches at my Grandma Paul's. Aunt Peggy's house too. We would pick lots of our food straight from the garden just minutes before we cooked it. I think lots of southerners share in that experience.
How do you give back?
Jamie: We work with food banks across the country as well as women’s safe shelters. Bethesda Home For Boys is also a project we keep near and dear to our hearts, and they’re located right here in Savannah. Bobby and I also enjoy speaking with groups of people spreading our story of hard work and overcoming challenges. I like to live by the motto, “Do good things,” because a little goes such a long way, y’all.
Bobby: We work with food banks. Feeding America [formerly America's Second Harvest] in particular. Last year, with the help of Smithfield foods, we donated and delivered over one million pounds of protein to food banks all across the country. I'm very proud of that. This is too great a country for people to be hungry, especially children, and the homeless and helpless. Also, my mom is very supportive of more than one crisis center for women, and the Bethesda Home for Boys here in Savannah. She wouldn't be quick to tell you about that, because she doesn't do it for publicity. She does it because she's an awesome person. Mom, Jamie, and I believe that with success comes the responsibility of giving back. The way you do it is up to you.
Paula, what's the best thing about working with your sons?
This is a topic we discuss all the time. My son Bobby always says "best thing about working with your family is being with your family. The worse thing about working with your family is your family."
Paula Deen is the author of the best-selling cookbook, The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook. She also has a bi-monthly magazine and three TV shows running concurrently on the Food Network. Beyond print, magazine and TV, Deen collaborates with the Helping Hungry Homes Program which was launched in 2008 to feed America’s hungry families. She also has a Paula Deen housewares line and a furniture line -- Paula Deen Home Collection.
Savannah, Georgia’s Jamie Deen, is the older son of Food Network host Paula Deen. Along with his brother Bobby, he has carved out a career that has included a successful restaurant (the award winning Lady and Sons), a Food Network TV show (Road Toasted) and a series of best selling cookbooks to both commercial and critical acclaim.
Bobby Deen is the younger son of celebrity chef Paula Deen. Like older brother Jamie, the Savannah resident has helped shape the Deen media empire with a series of highly successful commercial collaborations, ranging from two best selling cookbooks to the series Road Toasted on the Food Network and the award winning Lady and Sons Restaurant in Savannah. On a personal side, he was also named one of People Magazine’s Most Eligible bachelors in 2007.
Read our earlier interview with Jamie & Bobby Deen on Southern Cooking & Healthy Eating.