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You know Geoffrey, Jeff, Katie, Marcela and Sunny from their other adventures on Food Network and FoodNetwork.com, but for the first time last Saturday, you watched them come together on their brand-new series, The Kitchen (airing Saturdays at 11am/10c). Katie and Geoffrey cooked alongside each other, Sunny showed off her version of crepes, and the group dished about the latest trends and topics in everyone’s favorite room of the house: the kitchen. Before the season gets too far underway, however, FN Dish wants fans to get to know each of the co-hosts a bit better, so we’ll be sharing exclusive interviews with all five chefs every day this week. Read on below to learn more about Katie Lee, and keep checking back to hear from Marcela and Sunny.
Tell us your culinary point of view in the kitchen in a few sentences.
Katie Lee: I think simplicity is best. Use really great ingredients, and you don’t have to do a lot to them.
Why did you want to get involved in The Kitchen?
KL: When I first heard about this show, I thought it sounded like so much fun. The kitchen is truly the hangout heart of my home; everybody’s always in there. And to get in this kitchen with these people, it’s such a joy and so much fun.
How is The Kitchen different than the other shows on Food Network?
KL: In The Kitchen, you get to have five different perspectives on one show, so there are so many different ideas being thrown around. If one person’s making a dish, you get four others’ input on how you could make changes to it, how they might do it, different suggestions.
What will you bring to The Kitchen? What’s your perspective?
KL: I’m not a trained chef. I’m a home cook, so I make foods that are easy, and foods that I think people at home can relate to. I cook healthy in the sense that I don’t use many processed ingredients. I’m not afraid of fat. I’m not afraid of butter, but I try to be mindful and healthy when I can. And I love vegetables so much, so expect to see a lot of vegetables out of me.
Do you ever use recipes when you cook something new, or do you just wing it? And if you do use recipes, what kinds of dishes are they for? What are you looking up?
KL: If I’m just cooking, I don’t use recipes. If I’m baking, then obviously I’ll get out a recipe. But for the most part, I like to throw it together. I live on the east end of Long Island. We have the best farmers markets anywhere, as far as I’m concerned, so typically what I do [is] I go to the farm stand, I pick up whatever looks good, and I go home and I make something out of it. And farm-to-table is such, like, a trend, buzzword, but where I live, I truly do get to eat food that’s all within about [a] 10-mile radius from me.
What’s your go-to cookbook?
KL: My grandma gave me this Women’s Club cookbook that she had from, like, the ’60s or ’70s. I love that cookbook. And it has her notes in it where she would make the recipes and make notes, and she’d say, I used this, or I used that — or this tasted awful. That’s my favorite cookbook ’cause it’s a lot of the food I recognize from when I was a kid.
Who’s the one Food Network talent you’d most like to face off against in a friendly cook-off?
KL: I would say Bobby Flay is a good friend of mine, and we do cook together often. He has a house close to me. But we’ve never had a real throwdown, so maybe I would battle it out against Bobby.
What’s your background in the kitchen? How long have you been cooking, and what’s your signature dish?
KL: I started cooking when I was, like, 3 or 4 years old. My grandma was my baby sitter, and biscuits were my favorite thing to make. Biscuit dough was play dough for me growing up, so I grew up in the kitchen. I never imagined it could be a career unless I wanted to be a chef in a restaurant, and I knew I did not want to be because I’m not a masochist. But somehow I ended up here by the grace of God and made a job out of it. My signature dish is meatloaf. I call it Manloaf because if you make it for a man, he’s destined to fall in love with you.
Before we saw you on Food Network’s Google+ Thanksgiving hangout, you were in an episode of Bobby Flay Fit. Tell us a bit about your view on healthy eating and the routine you follow at home.
KL: I love to eat more than anything in the world. I love, love, love to eat, but I also like to wear skinny jeans, so I am a major workoutaholic, I guess you could say. I exercise about six days a week, and I really like it. I had to find something that I liked doing. I do Tracy Anderson Method, and the gym is, like, super closer to my house, so it’s not difficult for me to get there. But I find that if I stay really dedicated to my workout, then I can eat what I want. And vegetables. I try to fill up on the really good stuff, and then have the other stuff as a treat. But I don’t deny myself.
What are a few simple strategies people can incorporate into their day-to-day to feel better about what they’re eating?
KL: One thing to do is to look at your plate and make about 70 percent of it vegetables and the other 30 percent the other stuff. Then you’re filling up on something that’s really good for you, but you’re still getting the other stuff that you want. And then Monday through Friday be more mindful, and Saturday, Sunday, have more fun. So if it’s Wednesday and you are just craving a hot fudge sundae, you can say to yourself, “Oh, well, I’ll have it on Saturday.” And then it doesn’t seem so bad. It’s a much more civilized way. And never say “diet.” I think that as soon as you say, “I’m on a diet,” it’s all over, because we naturally have a rebellious spirit, where if we’re supposed to do something, we automatically don’t want to do it.
Rapid fire: Think fast!
Ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise? Ketchup
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Bagels or doughnuts? Bagels
Cream cheese or butter? It depends on the bread that it’s going on.
Coffee or tea? Coffee
French fries or onion rings? French fries
Burgers or hot dogs? Burgers
White meat or dark? Dark
Cake or pie? The cake if it has ice cream. Otherwise, I might choose the pie.
Beer or wine? Wine
Tune in to The Kitchen every Saturday at 11am/10c.