NEW ORLEANS (AP) — John Besh has cooked for thousands in his restaurants. He has cooked for millions on TV. But he recently realized he'd lost sight of cooking for the most important diners of all — his family.
Besh, who owns eight restaurants in south Louisiana and one in San Antonio, said that for years he was working to feed the public but "wasn't feeding the people as a father I was called to feed, and my wife called me out on it."
The husband and father of four said his family was the inspiration for his new cooking show, "Chef John Besh's Family Table."
In the new 26-part series, Besh creates family-friendly meals and gives tips on how to get the most use out of ingredients for economic value. Besh said he hopes the show will inspire families to gather around the supper table.
"We've lost sight of that family table, which has always been that glue that holds our culture together," said Besh, who with his wife of 20 years, Jenifer, has four sons ranging in age from 17 to 8. "The family table is where we communicate and learn how to communicate and negotiate."
Besh said his family also was the inspiration for his latest cookbook, "My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking." Recipes from the book will be made on the show, which was filmed in Besh's kitchen at his 10-acre Bayou Liberty home near Slidell, La.
Besh said he grew up hunting and fishing with his father and grandfather. Cooking and eating together as a family was a part of his upbringing, he said.
"If we went fishing for speckled trout, we'd come home and have trout meuniere for dinner," he said. With four boys who all play sports, "we live at the ball field, and I'm amazed at how many kids are being raised on food from the bag."
The show will air in parts of the Gulf Coast region on WYES-TV beginning April 6, and it will be distributed nationwide through American Public Television. WYES produced cooking shows for Louisiana chefs Justin Wilson and Paul Prudhomme.
"To be a chef in New Orleans, you're a steward of a great tradition and one of many who will pass it on," he said. "Maybe I'm inspiring the next generation of Louisiana chefs."
This will be Besh's second show produced by WYES. "Chef John Besh's New Orleans" has been airing for the past two years.
Besh said that because viewers in other parts of the country had trouble getting some of the local ingredients he used in the first series, such as andouille sausage and soft-shell crabs, he used more accessible foods such as chicken and pork roasts in the new series.
John Besh, http://www.chefjohnbesh.com/restaurants.html