If you asked Haylie Duff four years ago whether she could ever see her career heading down a path that involved any kind of cooking, she would have laughed hysterically and reminded you that at that point in time, she had blown up three microwaves and burnt everything she’d ever made.
Now, a 29-year-old actress with a food blog and cookbook, Duff is getting ready to premiere her own cooking show, “Real Girl’s Kitchen,” on the Cooking Channel on June 7.
“It’s funny the way life works,” Duff said of her transition into the culinary world during an interview with Boston.com. “Sometimes you go around in a weird path to find out exactly what it is that you love to do and I’m happy that I’ve sort of discovered something that makes me really happy.”
It all started when Duff’s mother, Susan Duff, discovered that her 20-something daughter had devoted an entire kitchen drawer to takeout menus.
“‘How did my child, who I cooked dinner for every single night, grow up to not know how to make anything?’” Duff recalled her mother saying. “And I think that was a real turning point for me because I was like, ‘OK, it’s time. You’ve got to grow up and learn how to make a couple things.’”
When Duff found success with a batch of delicious turkey meatballs, she decided to write about them and the first version of Real Girl’s Kitchen was born. The original blog (still live) lived on Blogger and eventually fueled a full-blown website, cookbook, and most recently, a television show, all bearing the same name.
“Just yesterday I Googled Real Girl’s Kitchen to see if my old blog would come up and...mainly because I don’t think I knew how to delete the first blog, there’s like a first page that comes up that’s dated like two years ago or something,” Duff said, laughing as she looked back in time. “And it’s like ‘Hey guys, Real Girl’s Kitchen is moving to RealGirlsKitchen.com.
“I don’t think I ever thought that the next step would be a book and a show and I’m grateful every day for it.”
The show, airing on the Food Network’s sister station, the Cooking Channel, at 2 p.m. on Saturdays, isn’t just about cooking, which Duff thinks sets it apart from the pack.
“We go to farms, we go to farmer’s markets, we go to new restaurants, I cook on a food truck,” Duff said of her on-camera adventures. “There’s no real format that we follow each episode and I think that’s something that people will like and get into.”
Episodes of “Real Girl’s Kitchen” were shot on both coasts, in an around Duff’s home in Los Angeles, and also in New York and Brooklyn—two spots she visited during her recent book tour.
This has been quite the year for the woman at the helm of the “Real Girl’s Kitchen” trifecta, who announced her TV show and got engaged to boyfriend Matt Rosenberg (on April Fool’s Day) during the same week.
If you’re a takeout fan like Duff’s former self and are thinking about making a go of it in the kitchen, “Start off easy and small,” she said. “And then there’s the advice my mom gave me, which is, ‘Perfect a roasted chicken.’ If you can make a roasted chicken, you can make anything else.”Emily Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MissEmilyWright.