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Jamie Deen on food and family

Karen Miner is the Food & Travel Assignment Editor for SheKnows, ChefMom and FabulousFoods. She is a freelance writer, recipe developer and is also the cook, author and photographer behind the food blog, Tasty Trials, a collection of ori...

Getting home for dinner

Jamie Deen is passionate about his work and serving the community, but above all, he is passionate about his family. And even with a hectic schedule, he still finds a way to get home for dinner.
Jamie Deen

Find out what he has to say about the importance of good food and cooking and eating together as a family.

Jamie Deen is just as likable and genuine as he comes across on television. With that classic southern charm, he makes you feel like you're chatting with an old friend. SheKnows had a chance to talk to Jamie Deen about his new Food Network show, Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen, his tips for involving kids in the kitchen, how important family meals are and more.

Home for dinner

When you watch Jamie Deen's show, Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen, it's easy to see that family is his passion and that bringing family together at mealtime is his priority. He says that he wanted to do a show to try to help people figure out how to feed a family, kids included, without making two meals. About the show he says, "It's real-life. I was super excited to have the opportunity to highlight a real family and incorporate my own family. Mealtime is such a big part of everyone's life, but it presents a real challenge to a lot of people." He goes on to say, "For people that aren't comfortable in the kitchen, every meal can seem like a hurdle. Sometimes you just need somebody to show you how simple it is and that's what we hope to do with the show."

Check out these easy family meal ideas >>

A busy schedule

There is no doubt that Jamie Deen has a busy schedule. He is still involved with the family restaurant, The Lady & Sons, and also serves as vice president on the board of the local food bank, which is something he clearly loves doing. He says about his community service: "That's the biggest thing for me. I have the opportunity to lend my time and our family's name to different things here in the community, and it's made a big difference… Community is huge. We feel like we'll never be able to repay Savannah for the support we got, but we all try to lend our time to help pay back a little bit."

Read how to get homemade flavor quick with these kitchen shortcuts >>

Q&A

After joking that he never has a short answer, Jamie answered some lightning round questions for us.

The best thing about family dinners?

Family

Favorite home-cooked meal?

[His mom's] fried pork chops

A food you won't eat?

Boiled okra

A food you thought you wouldn't like but loved?

Tomatoes

Jack's favorite meal?

Baked fish with butterbeans and rice

Who would Jack say is a better cook: You or his grandma (Paula Deen)?

He says mine is better, but he's only 5… he doesn't really know yet.

Making time

With so much on his plate, Jamie says that planning ahead for meals is very important. "Have an idea of what you're going to do for the week ahead and keep staples at the house," he says. He continues, "People feel like it's easier to get your dinner passed through a car window or take something out of the freezer, but if you'll take some time to learn some new applications… you can do a stir-fry in no time at all. In 20 minutes, you can have a fresh vegetable and chicken stir-fry over rice…"

Short on time? Make a quick and easy dinner tonight >>

Kids in the kitchen

As a child, Jamie remembers being drawn to the kitchen from watching his mom, Paula Deen, along with his grandmothers and aunts. "Our family always congregated in the kitchen, and it was just natural for Bobby and me to get in there and help Mom."

One of Jamie's tips for getting kids interested in food is to involve them in the kitchen, where his 5-year-old son, Jack, frequently lends a hand. He says that kids can help as soon as they can stand up at the counter and understand simple instruction. "It's a good way for parents to get their kids to eat. If you'll let the kids get in there and participate, they'll take ownership of the dish and be more likely to eat it." Another tip, Jamie says, is to "introduce them to a lot of different things and as they grow older they'll find that they like those things… You can't expose them to different textures and flavors young enough."

Read these five lessons every child should learn about cooking >>

Family time

When it comes to food, Jamie Deen wants to pass on the right values to his kids. He says, "I realize how important it is and the responsibility that parents have to set their kids on the right path. Food is something that will be in their life forever, so it's important for us to get them eating as healthy as we can and hopefully it's something that will stick." The importance of cooking together and sharing meals as a family is something else he wants to instill in his kids. "I've always said that being in the kitchen is like a therapy for me. If I'm in there with my kids, it's just the happiest time of my day," Jamie says.

As he recalls some of his own childhood memories of family dinners and food, it is clear that the kitchen has always been the heart of his home. Jamie says he has so many memories of being in the kitchen with his mom growing up. One thing he'll never forget: "That warm lace cornbread coming off of Mom's plate," he says.

And from the sound of things, the kitchen is where he'll continue to be. On cooking, Jamie says, "It's one of my favorite things to do because you can put your love into something that people can actually see and touch and taste and feel. We share so much of our love through our meals, and I've just always enjoyed doing it."

Check out these tips for making family meals fun >>

More foodie insight

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Anthony Bourdain talks No Reservations, celebrity status and more
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