This is Bobby Deen.
You may recognize him as one of Paula Deen’s dashing Southern sons. You know, the one she tried to set up with that Sports Illustrated model? Despite being Paula’s flesh and blood, Bobby is actually not on his way to Diabetes lane. About two weeks ago marked the beginning of Bobby’s newest venture, “Not My Mama’s Meals” on the Cooking Channel: a show where he takes all of his mama’s artery-clogging concoctions and turns them into something that won’t cost you $10 in butter alone. I was lucky enough to interview him the very day of his launch.
What inspired you to become a healthy eater?
Bobby: The show came about very organically, largely in part because of who my mom is. She’s known for decadent Southern food, but at the same time, for the past ten years, I’ve embraced healthy eating and exercise into my life. It’s just who I am. I’m very excited to get the opportunity. From the food aspect, it was important for me to not knock or disparage against Southern food or my mother’s food because I totally love it. The show is about balance. We talk a lot about portion control and easy ways to cut out fat and calories.
Growing up, were there any foods you weren’t allowed to eat?
Bobby: I don’t remember my mother telling me I couldn’t have anything. She didn’t force feed us anything either. I grew up in Albany, Georgia in the 70’s and 80’s and it was a different time. Any day we might have fried chicken, mashed potatoes, sweet tea…really traditional southern food. We had choices but in our home, we ate real traditionally. My mom didn’t raise big fat kids either.
What’s the most decadent thing you’ve ever eaten?
Bobby: Decadence to me implies over-the-top and total ridiculousness. The only thing that qualified, and I didn’t eat the whole thing, was a Krispy Kreme bacon cheese burger.
Most surprising dish that you’ve been able to turn healthy?
Bobby: The most satisfying thing that we undid was my mom’s fried chicken. It was one thing that I wanted to see if I could recreate. I was very happy and pleased with my version. In the end, the most important thing is that my mother gets to try and like all of the recipes I’m recreating. This one got a really great reaction. We used boneless skinless chicken thighs because chicken thighs are packed with flavor and juice and it doesn’t dry out. We removed the skin because skin on a chicken is a main culprit, when you deep fry it, there’’s not a lot of health value there. We put them in a cast-iron skillet and seasoned the chicken and ran it through an egg wash with egg whites only. We took unsweetened corn flakes and beat ’em up until it was really fine and we ran the chicken through those corn flakes which added fiber and texture. Then we baked the chicken in the skillet.
What’s the biggest misconception about you, being Paula Deen’s son. Do people assume you never eat vegetables?
Bobby: People are generally nice to me. What I’m gathering through the interviews is that everyone wants know what my mother think about this— like she might be mad, like I’m betraying her. My mama is really happy with this idea…I’m her kid. I’m a grown man but I’m her kid.
Have you had any cooking disasters on the show?
Bobby: I was really lucky. I’ve had stuff happen with me or friends—I’ve had people drop entire chickens when we pulled them out of the oven and fires, but none of that happened on the show.
What differentiates you from other health-conscious Food Network and Cooking Channel stars like Hungry Girl or Ellie Krieger?
Bobby: I work out every day. I run and I lift with a trainer. I have access to a great gym in Savannah and awesome trainer. I even do Brazilian jujitsu. But this isn’t what separates me. This show is just a very open and honest look at who I am, the type of food that I like to eat. I think the show is very honest.
What can we expect for your first show?
Bobby: Krispy Kreme bread pudding.