By Emily Mitchell
Martha Stewart is Lucinda Scala Quinn’s boss… pressure much? The executive food director at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is expanding her appreciation of and experience with food to the Hallmark Channel, where she will debut her new daily cooking show, Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn, on Sept. 13.
Scala Quinn’s work with Martha Stewart is a collaboration of two like-minded domestic mavens with the same opinions about food. “Starting with Martha, certainly in terms of all of our food properties, our ethos has been about fresh, seasonal, healthy eating. We don’t believe in deprivation; we believe in moderation. Martha set the tone long before it was fashionable to understand where our food comes from — doing stories on the artisans that make cheese and grow hazelnuts, for example. This is something Martha established 15 years ago when she started the magazine [Martha Stewart Living], and all of us who have worked with her have come to appreciate where our food comes from and how its handled and how to best cook it.”
The mother of three teenage boys, Scala Quinn understands the juggling act of motherhood and career, but says it doesn’t necessarily need to interfere with home-cooked, fresh, quality meals. “I have two dogs to walk, I have to get breakfast ready, I have to figure out what we’re going to make for dinner, did everybody get something in their lunch … it never stops. And that can be quite daunting, actually. It can enslave you or it can liberate you. And my hope with this show is to show people how to turn it around a little bit and make it manageable. How you do that is not just talking, but showing strategy and real-life solutions that have worked.”
Her show has a goal: to bring families back to the dinner table. Her cookbook, Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys, was published in 2009. The format of Mad Hungry, a 30-minute, live-taped show, will feature some family guests, including her brothers and sons. “It’s going to have that kitchen-living room kind of feel,” says Scala Quinn. Each episode will feature Scala Quinn preparing multiple dishes themed around topics like busy work schedules and time crunches that may interfere the average family having a sit-down dinner.
So where have American families gone wrong with dinnertime? In her opinion, it’s the abundance of overwhelming opportunity and involvement that have taken away from mealtime. “I think we’ve forgotten how the family table can be an incredible opportunity for wellness. Not just physical, but also spiritual and emotional wellness. When you get together and you’re dining with people that you care about and when you’re feeding yourself fresh cooked food then you’re hitting on health in many different aspects.”
Another aspect of the show Scala Quinn is proud to publicize: her budget-friendly recipes. “I don’t like to waste. I’m frugal. I’m always mindful of where my money is being spent and how I can feed the most amount of people the best food on the least amount of money,” she says.
Hallmark has a confident and experienced chef on their hands. Her experience with Martha Stewart Omnimedia, which includes work on Stewart’s television shows (The Martha Stewart Show, Everyday Food TV) and magazine are all proof that Scala Quinn is a reliable advice giver whose ideas about food and family are anything but lofty and unattainable. “My hope with this show is that we are able to translate what the payoff is. If you put that positive energy into feeding your family, it comes back tenfold.”