Like most busy parents, Jamie Deen has mastered the art of multitasking. Doing an interview while cleaning out and gassing up his car to prepare for a family vacation, Deen explains that it’s actually a large part of what drove him to create his popular Food Network series Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen, which returns for a second season Sunday, May 26, at 10am ET/PT.
The show features Deen whipping up nutritious, time conscious and budget-friendly meals that appeal to adults and kids alike, so his family — and those of his viewers can spend around the table with their loved ones and less time trying to get there.
“I would never consider myself a role model for anybody,” Deen says, “but I am a busy parent and I understand the challenges that everybody faces, because I go through them, too. It’s certainly not high cotton in my house all the time. Brooke and I have our battles. But there are some things that I can share that I hope people can take some inspiration from.”
This season, Deen will put a fresh, fun and healthy spin on such family-dinner institutions as pizza (make ’em yourself and grill ’em), taco night (fill ’em with turkey and season from scratch) and camping food that goes beyond S’mores and roasting hot dogs on a stick.
“We’re making it all from scratch,” he says of the new season menu, which he genuinely culls from family-favorites. “And I think people will find that you can do it in the same amount of time and people will just feel so much better about what your kids are eating.”
In Sunday’s premiere episode, “Italian Night at Rooster’s,” the proud dad even serves as menu consultant for the newest restaurateur in the Deen family — his six-year-old son Jack, who has set up shop in his playroom.
“Jack put together a little restaurant — he’s seen his daddy and his grandmom and his uncle’s restaurant, so Jack decided he wanted his own restaurant — and he just pulled the name Rooster’s out of the air,” Deen chuckles. “My mom has been a guest at Rooster’s many many times — it comes to life on Sunday mornings and it’s just so cute.”
But, Deen says, Jack has some serious competition for the spotlight this season.
“Jack stole the show last year — and believe me, plenty of people told me that,” he says. “But I think this is Matthew’s year. Jack feels like he’s done it before, so it’s old hat for him, but when Matthew gets all of this food out in front of him … there’s one show where he manages to put his entire fist into his mouth with food. So Matthew’s going to be the star this season. He just turned 2 this Saturday and he’s the cutest little boy. We call him Moose, because he’s a big boy. He’s going to be my eater, I think.”
Asked about must-haves in his fridge and pantry so he’s never caught without something healthy to make for dinner, Deen says that fresh protein tops the list.
“I shop almost every day because I want the freshest chicken or fish,” Deen says. “We do a lot of baked protein. And I always keep fresh vegetables and olive oil. I roast more vegetables than I do anything else. When you boil down broccoli or carrots or any vegetable, you’re taking all the nutrients and flavor and color out of it. I’ll put them on a sheet pan with some olive oil and roast them and they just hold onto all that flavor — it’s so beautiful and so easy. In 45 minutes you can have delicious cauliflower or broccoli or eggplants or potatoes. So I’d encourage people to find more roasted vegetables for their kids. You might be surprised at your success.”
As was the case in the first season of Home for Dinner, Deen says his famous mom Paula and brother Bobby will also crop up from time to time in the new batch of episodes — joined by another special guest in one very special outing.
“I’m so happy that my mom and my dad and my brother all have come together — I don’t think we’ve ever done that on a show, which is hard to believe in the last ten years!” Deen says. “We celebrated the 25th anniversary of The Bag Lady, the little business that we started that has grown into The Lady and Sons restaurant. So the four of us are together on one show and it was just so special for all of us to be together. You know what to expect from our family — that’s always family and friends. We love to keep it all in the family.”
Deen, who devotes himself to a roster of charitable organizations, including America’s Second Harvest and Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society, says he couldn’t be happier that viewers have embraced the show that he films at home in Savannah, GA, and calls a “a snapshot of our life” — and its message of good times and good nutrition.
“That’s the main thing for me is to do a project here in Savannah and involve my kids — although doing a production with kids is not always the easiest thing,” he says. “But I would much rather face the challenges of them being with me than the challenge of me being by myself. We keep it really light and fun, and as long as the boys enjoy doing it, I’m going to let them. And we feel like it’s an important message to get out to parents to try to prepare food that’s good for your kids and tastes good — and most importantly to spend time together around the table every day.”
Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen airs Sunday mornings at 10am ET/PT on Food Network.