Sunny Anderson is Uncovering America's Story One Home Cook at a Time
Sunny Anderson is best known for hosting Food Network's Cooking for Real. On the show, Sunny's life stories about being an Army brat, becoming a radio DJ while in the Air Force and cooking for her friends were as much reason to tune in as were her big-flavored home-cooked meals.
Sunny recently hung up her Cooking apron. But she's not sitting still. She's a frequent guest on Rachael Ray's daytime talk show. She is putting the finishing touches on her first-ever, not-yet-titled cookbook. And at 9:30am on Saturday, she's debuting her new Food Network series, Home Made in America with Sunny Anderson.
Sunny spoke with TVFirstLook about her upcoming projects, traveling the country with Home Made in America and hanging out with Cheddar, Truffle and Milky.
TVFirstLook: OK, so you're a regular guest expert on Rachael Ray. Any chance you might someday have your own talk show?
Sunny Anderson: So many people tell me they think I should have a talk show. I'm a talker. And I began my career as a journalist. I'm very inquisitive. I like the process of interviewing people and hearing their stories.
So, I can see why people ask me that. But I also can't figure out what the show would be. I miss shows like Donahue where you help real people with real troubles. And I like Rachael Ray with segments like the portion control that I worked on. That's the type of thing people can relate to.
You know, in a business that is so cutthroat and nasty, it's so nice to have Rachael wrap her arms around me and say, 'Come hang out with me.'
Maybe some day. I'm not counting it out, that's for sure.
TVFirstLook: Speaking of interviewing people, you interview people on your new show, right?
Sunny: Home Made in America mirrors my career. I was just a person with recipes and every one of them had a story behind it.
I had a chance to be on Emeril and, next thing you know, I was having meetings about having my own show.
On Home Made in America, people have recipes with a story behind it. The recipe may have won you awards or made you your family's mac and cheese expert.
On the show, each recipe is great. Every time we stopped shooting, the crew was like, 'I'm going home to make that.'
And the stories behind the recipes are incredible. There are recipes that started businesses. There are recipes that have been with families for generations, maybe they were found in a handwritten cookbook from 1932. There are recipes from firehouses. We just want to share those stories.
TVFirstLook: Your life story is amazing. How has your life affected your TV shows?
Sunny: No one's life is planned out. There have been times in my life that didn't make sense at the time but did later on.
And growing up moving around as an Army brat, you lose so much. But I also gained a lot.
At a very young age, I was open-minded to different lifestyles, different types of food and different cultures. As an adult, I try to revisit them either physically or in my kitchen.
All those things added up to who I am today. Moving around a lot and learning languages early turned into me loving journalism. I joined the Air Force to do that. What I'm doing now is journalism. I interview people to learn their stories.
TVFirstLook: What's going on with your show Cooking for Real?
Sunny: After 10 seasons, we called "wrap" on the show. We had a great run.
That gave me a chance to sit down with the network to figure out what is next for me. About a year ago, I did a Fourth of July special. They enjoyed the storytelling on that. They said, "We want more of that."
I feel really honored that the network came to me and asked me to build a show around me telling stories. That's cool. In life, that's what I wanted to do. I had never thought I'd be on camera doing it.
But, hey, if telling stories means slapping on some makeup, hey, that's what I'll do.
TVFirstLook: OK, last thing, how are Cheddar, Truffle and Milky doing?
Sunny: Oh my god, you're asking about my boobie-doobies!
They are feeling very neglected. They've been cordoned off to a few rooms in the house because we were doing a photo shoot for my cookbook.
But I just got them some new toys yesterday, some sparkly toys. They're all rescue cats and I just love them. They're precious.