You’re back on WYES-TV/Channel 12 with Kevin Belton’s New Orleans Kitchen, following on New Orleans Cooking with Kevin Belton two years ago. What do you get to do now that you didn’t get to do before?
We’re able to have a little more fun with this one, for sure. Before, we had to establish credibility—you don’t get to do a national series otherwise. I’m always myself, I’m still myself, but now I get to show more of my personality, which is good since I kind of know a little bit what I’m talking about [laughs].
Do you have a sense of the impact your first series had?
It’s always fun to hear how many kids are getting in the kitchen with their parents to cook the recipes on the show. That’s what happens in Louisiana—we do a lot of stuff around the table, and maybe we don’t always pay attention to it, but the kids do. Kids watch their parents. A New Orleans kitchen is like Grand Central Station. Everything happens there. If I had to solve world problems, I’d be sitting in the kitchen doing it.
Which episodes in the new series are the most fun for you?
I’m a coffee fan. I love coffee. I started drinking it as a kid, maybe four, five, six years old. Like a lot of people, I started with café au lait with some sugar in it, but then I stopped putting the sugar, and then I stopped putting the milk. Now I just drink it black. So we have an episode on coffee and we do this coffee-rubbed rib, and if you like coffee—you’ll really love this!
We do an episode on pecans, and pecan cheesecake, and let me tell you—the crew eats good on the show and this camerawoman, she can’t be more than 125 pounds and her 10 or 11-year-old daughter is literally larger than she is, but she’d take down anybody who came close to that cheesecake! Everything that’s made on the show is eaten by the crew. ‘That’s mine!’ Everybody calls dibs…
There are so many chefs on TV these days. What do you bring to the table?
I want you to be able to feel comfortable. Cooking can be complicated, with complex flavors, but I try to keep it simple and basic and make you say, ‘I think I can do that.’ That’s the best thing, taking the mystery out of it. Recipes have to be written for someone who hasn’t seen a stove before. Also, I let people know that they don’t have to get caught up in doing the recipe exactly as it is. If you don’t have fresh basil, use dried. Just cook.