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Kidsday interviews chef Bobby Deen

Kidsday reporters Hayden Dancy and Emily O'Brien, 13,

Kidsday reporters Hayden Dancy and Emily O'Brien, 13, from Syosset at the Food Network kitchen with celebrity chef Bobby Deen and his mac and cheese. (Jan. 5, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/Pat Mullooly

We interviewed Food Network celebrity and chef Bobby Deen at the Food Network kitchen in Manhattan recently. We even helped him make some macaroni and cheese.

Is there any advice that you have for people who want to join the culinary field?

Yes. We started our business out of our home when I was 18 years old. The very first thing that I would say to that and that my mother [Paula Deen] says to that, because we hear that question quite a bit, is that you need to go to work in a restaurant when you are old enough. And you need to figure out whether or not you even like it. Because the restaurant business is really hard and really stressful, and you might really, really hate it. You have to go to work and learn it backward and forwards. It's amazing how much you could learn about people by serving them a meal. You could really learn a lot about people.

Is it difficult for you to always work with your family?

That's a really smart question. Yes. Being in a family business and working with your family is the best part, and it's also the worst and hardest part because [you] tend to say things to your brother or to your mother that you might not say to just everybody, just regular people, so yes, it's very hard, but it's also very good. I can't trust anyone more than I can trust my mother and my brother. So it's a good thing to be in business with them. But then, when things get tough, sometimes you can kind of be a little rough with each other. So you've got to find some balance there.

Other than your mother, have you ever had any other culinary training?

Yes and no. My grandma was a great cook and my Aunt Peggy growing up was a great cook and all the people around me were really good cooks. So it wasn't really training, but I learned by being with them and cooking with them. So kind of yes and no is the answer to that question. It's all been trial by fire, if you know what I mean.

What do you think could be done to curb childhood obesity in America?

Childhood obesity in America is a problem, and I think we've just started to do something about it. I think we get creative with the cooking . . . And we've got a very sedentary society, where people kind of sit on the sofa and play the Xbox or the PS3 and you're not really moving around . . . [or] playing basketball or playing baseball, doing these things, being active, understanding what a portion size really is, because we're overfed everywhere we go. You go to a restaurant and they give you this huge plate of food, just like this, and [we] think that's how much we're supposed to eat. So I think we need to inform ourselves on how much we should eat, and I think we need to have exercise in our lives.

What is it like having one of the most famous women in America as your mom?

It is the coolest thing ever, because when you see my mother on television and the way that she acts and how nice she is and how cool she is, that's really what she's like. She's really, really sweet and funny, and I get to eat lots and lots of good food. It's always awesome in every way.

We know that you really like to work out and play the drums; what else do you like to do in your spare time?

I am learning to play the guitar. I just recently bought my eighth guitar, and I love it. But my favorite thing to do is practice Brazilian jujitsu, which is a really cool, interesting martial art. I've got a good friend that is a brown belt in jujitsu and he's a super guy and he's a good influence on me.

How do you like New York so far?

I love New York. I visited New York many, many times. Do you all live in NYC? I've been to Long Island. I went out to, my brother and I went out there and visited Stony Brook college. I love New York. I like to eat here, I like to go out and play here. I'm from Savannah, Ga., and it's just a really much different town and place and I like all this activity here and it's just lots and lots of fun.

With your new show how do you choose the recipes they want to recreate?

Well I have a lot of help. There are sort of like elves. Like Santa's elves help me out. Here's the thing. My mom's got lots and lots of cookbooks out there so I got a lot of recipes to choose from. So it's not hard. I could just sort of open up a book and throw a dart and I'd find one that I could try to slim down a little bit.

How different it is living in the city than in Georgia?

It's very different. . . . Did you see the picture of my backyard? It's really quiet where I live and really beautiful and lots of trees and lots of green and lots of water. I see, like when I go out in my backyard, it's not unusual, I see bald eagles, otters and raccoons, big dolphin out in the water and I've even seen sharks out there, stuff like that. So it's completely different than the city, but they're both really cool but in different ways. So when I'm at home for a long time I'm like man, I want to get up to the city and get back into that hustle, bustle and the action because I like it. And then when I'm up here for a long time, like man, I want to get down there and see that water. So it's really different, really good.

If you could cook a meal for anybody who would it be for and why?

Wow. I'm going to pick somebody that I know that's really cool and you guys would probably appreciate this. Albert Pujols is a friend of mine and I got a chance to hang out with him a lot of times and do things with him, but I've not yet cooked for him. So he's somebody that I want to cook for because he's not only a friend of mine, but he's also somebody that I really admire. So . . . he's my man.

If you weren't a chef, what path would you have taken?

I would be a baseball player, but when I got to be 18 . . . there's a separation of talent and [you] find out who's really good.

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