After a long day on the set judging Spring Baking Championship what is your favorite guilty pleasure to eat at night? “My favorite guilty pleasure after filming Spring Baking Championship is a hamburger with mayo, onion, lettuce and avocado… in bed… watching a good movie!”
What is your favorite music to listen to while you cook? “I am a huge fan of country music, it just makes me happy. For me, country music helps me push those creative juices when I’m cooking! And a little jitterbug spin with my husband David when he walks through the door!”
What cookbook is your go-to resource for inspiration? “My Farmhouse Rules Cookbook! Ha. I always had Julia Child in the kitchen as well as Gourmet magazine in the early days... and The Silver Palate Cookbook and Ina Garten’s books.”
Is there one dish you won’t cook? “I will not cook tongue!”
What city’s food scene has impressed you recently? “Asheville, North Carolina.”
Did you grow up cooking as a kid? “I grew up attached to my grandmother’s apron strings. My mother was a natural cook, as well. I’ve always felt a cook is like an artist. You either have those natural abilities or you don’t. Yes, if you follow a recipe and taste as you go then you certainly can produce a fine tasting dish but overall I believe those special taste buds are god given. I’ve employed chefs over the years and the young man that was not professionally trained produced the best tasting food. Because he had those natural taste buds!”
What’s the first dish you cooked yourself? “I remember cooking a complicated recipe out of Gourmet and my grandmother came to the stove and kind of scooted me out of the way and put the ingredients in, 1, 2, 3 and it was DONE! That was the day I stopped taking myself too seriously. That same grandmother told me never to learn how to milk a cow or bake a loaf of bread! She raised five children and fed the hired men that worked on the farm and there was no sliced bread. Hence the saying, ‘this is the best thing since sliced bread.’”
Name the all-time best cooking show. “Of course, Farmhouse Rules! And Two Fat Ladies—those English ladies that rode a motorcycle with a sidecar.”
Is there one chef dead or alive you’d like to cook with? “I’d like to cook with Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson from Two Fat Ladies. And Julia Child. I love to laugh.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “Well… most would say knives. But if I’m doing a demonstration, it’s important to me to have a pretty table or area where I’m cooking and presenting. I’ve been known to take table clothes, wooden dishes and items that are easily transported. And my garlic masher. In its original life, it was like a gavel. Now I have a friend make them for me in the Hudson Valley and the uses are numerous. It’s made of wood so it’s not too fragile to travel. I use it to mash garlic, crush candy, pound meat, call the kids…”
Nancy Fuller is a judge on the Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship, whose finale is Monday night. She’s also the author of the Farmhouse Rules Cookbook.
Interview has been condensed and edited.