Long before she struck fame singing in the band Little Big Town, which won its first Grammy Award last month for best country-duo group performance for “Pontoon,” Kimberly Schlapman was the star of a make-believe cooking program. “When I was really small, I would pretend I had my own cooking show,” she says during a stop on the band’s “Tornado” tour. “I would stand at the counter and I had this silly little voice that I would use that was my character on the show when I cooked. Music was my dream as a career, I wanted to be a singer, but that was just a tiny little dream I had.”
Years later, both dreams came true when GAC (Great American Country) TV asked her to host a cooking series. The second season of “Kimberly’s Simply Southern,” which follows her on the band’s tour bus and picks up cooking advice on the road, premieres March 9 at 1 p.m. (Check with your local cable company for the GAC channel number.)
Q. When you pretended to have your cooking show as a child, it was before so many celebrity chefs were on TV. Who were you emulating?
A. I’m going to date myself big time, but that’s OK. I think the inspiration for my little show came from “The Dinah Shore Show.” She would have cooking segments and I used to watch that as a tiny little kid. We didn’t have many channels at my house so I wasn’t able to watch Julia Child. I knew about her as I was growing up but I think as a tiny little kid I didn’t really know who she was.
Q. At home in Georgia, what dishes were you raised on?
A. Biscuits, chicken and dumplings, fried chicken, several different cakes and pies. I made a vinegar pie to bring on the bus last night. It’s one of my favorite family recipes and it sounds funny but it’s so, so yummy. It’s really sweet and a little bit tangy. Yesterday I was in an interview and I started talking about vinegar pies and I was like, oh, I need one of those right now. So I went home and whipped up one of those pies and brought it on the bus. But I have a book’s worth of recipes that have been passed down from my grandmother and my mama. I can think of many memories around my mama’s chicken and dumplings or my grandmother’s fried chicken or my other grandmother’s pie crust.
Q. How did the TV series come together?
A. Little Big Town did an interview years ago with GAC and they asked us all, “If you weren’t doing this and you could do anything, what would you do?” And I said, “I’d have my own cooking show.” And they remembered that and so about a year and a half ago, they said, “If you had your own cooking show, what would it look like?” And I was like, “Holy cow, is this possible?” This is the format we came up with and I love it. I get to show a little bit of my travel life and I love the beginning of the episodes, where I actually go somewhere and learn. I always learn something new at these field shoots. Everybody probably learns something when you watch those little segments. I still can’t believe it came true.
Q. Does filming the show disturb the band’s schedule?
A. There’s no free time, it’s crazy. We just cram it all in and it is a lot. First of all, the band has never been as busy as they are now, but this adds another little job in there. And I’m a mother and a wife, which are the most important things in life for me, so it’s important that I keep that a priority. It’s been very challenging to do both. But it feels like I was given this opportunity and this blessing so I definitely want to explore it and give it my very, very all. And the band’s been very patient. They’ve been on the show several times and they know that sometimes I’m getting off the bus at crazy hours to film a field shoot, because we do those really early in the morning. They’ve been amazing. They actually watch the show and I love it when we’ll be off the road for a few days and they’ll come back on the bus and say, “Oh, I saw last night’s episode and loved it.” It’s really sweet.Interview was condensed and edited. Glenn Yoder can be reached at email@example.com.