Behind The Scenes Preparation For – The Great American Recipe

My ‘behind the scenes’ preparation for The Great American Recipe, The PBS series of Diversity, Heritage and The Best Home Cooks in America.

10 contestants will bring to the PBS platform, the recipes they grew up cooking and the stories that make these recipes ‘Great’! 

Great American Recipes

Immigrants from around the world, have made America their home since the beginning. There is no America without this merging of beautiful cultures and cuisines from around the world. 

Every country, has its natural habitat contributions that formulate the style of cooking that the world knows from that region. 

For this reason, in 2019 I published my first cookbook. A culmination of the foods of my Mediterranean heritage.

I called it The World On My Plate because these recipes always remind me of exactly that.

The World On My Plate
The World On My Plate

Everything from spices to milk, fish to fowl, fruit to vegetable. No one country has it all, but imagine a place that did have it all…

America The Great

Here in America we do have it all. Why? Because we have YOU!

Each and every one of us brings flavors and cooking techniques inherited from our grandmother, grandfather or great, great grandparents. 

There is no better place for the melting-pot of America to be experienced than in the kitchen!

The kitchen is where we combine, mingle, melt (if you will), and Whisk together the flavors, memories, and stories of our great ancestors. 


Public Broadcasting Services is a private, nonprofit American corporation whose members are the ‘public’ television stations of America.

Some of the finest information, entertainment and visual storytelling is produced by PBS. Why?

Because it belongs to us, and all who support and participate in its production. PBS brings us all together, wedding what we see and think in our personal lives to create us, collectively! 


As a kid, being raised by a Syrian mom and a Scandinavian/German dad, there were often troubles, back in the 50’s.

My dad was a jazz musician, piano player, composer and arranger of music to some of the great musicians back in those days. Musicians, though, like many artists, led insecure financial lives.

Dizzy Gillespie and My Dad
Dizzy Gillespie and My Dad

Parents of my father were not happy with his chosen career and even less happy when he married my mom… a woman of color. 

My Mom and Me
My Mom and Me

I think my dad loved my mother’s cooking and she loved his music. But this was not a lot to base a marriage on, and of course four children later, it dissolved due to lack of ‘means’. 


It all began, for me, one day late in July of 2021. I received a message on Instagram asking me to consider applying for “The Great American Recipe”. Unaware that it was a new show, being produced by PBS, I thought it was a scam message. It was not. 

The adventure began there, as did the vetting process. Long applications were filled out. Personal video, for the vetting, needed to be made to send in with the application.

How does one tell a production company why I might be a great fit for the show? Simply by telling a little about my home cooking and what inspires me in the kitchen, I supposed. 

Behind The Scenes

The Great American Recipe program was to be a first of its kind here in America. A cooking competition yes, but much much more.

An unfolding of the lives of the contestants, our stories and the cuisines we each grew up with. We would tell our stories, through the recipes we would share. The recipes that have made American recipes great. 

I was smitten by the program. My Mediterranean and Middle Eastern heritage influences all that goes into my style of cooking.

I also hoped to showcase some of the recipes from Maryland where I grew up, where the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding farmland supplies many of the fresh ingredients I cook with; but that would depend on how long I lasted in the competition. 

Cooking Competitions On Television

As the month of August unfolded, the picture of just how grand this program was designed to be, became clearer in my mind and I began to pinch myself asking: “Did this really just land in my lap”?

The show would be filmed in Virginia. What? Less than 2-hours from where I live! I have had the honor and pleasure to be featured in three programs on the Food Network.  

Each of the shows were filmed on the west coast, but this time I would have the luxury and excitement to be close to home. 

Preparation For A Television Show

This production required the contestants to be prepared both to live in the exciting film world bubble for 20-days, and to leave early when told “You’ve cooked your last meal with us”!

Oh my gosh how exciting! The month of September was scheduled for filming. 

First, I was asked to submit photographs of myself in 12-outfits: They would critique the cloths.

Twelve outfits, hair, makeup, shoes, all the comforts of home needed to be planned and packed to go, even if I was only there for the first episode, then sent home. Whew! This was serious!! 

Then, when it was time to pack my car and go, I can’t tell you how excited I was to travel all my comforts. Able to carry tons of water and lots of pantry food items to eat while there, be it for one day or twenty! Oh, the uncertainty. Who cared, this was a great adventure!

There’s so much to tell you… and tell you, I will, so I’ll see you back here again tomorrow for: Day 2 – Hair, Makeup, Nails and Shoes Before Lights Camera and Action!

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments