Matt and Ted Lee, who’ve racked up awards as cookbook authors, have secured two new platforms for their reflections on Southern culture and cuisine.
Southern Uncovered, the brothers’ first television show, debuts June 14 on Ovation, an arts-focused network that reaches more than 50 million households. (Locally, Ovation is carried by Charter, Comcast, AT&T, DISH and DIRECTV, although availability may vary by subscription plan.)
According to Matt Lee, the show has been in development for two years. He credits its Southern-based producers with refusing to shoehorn their brand of genteel punk into a stereotypical portrayal of the region. “We’re never looking the camera in the eye, which is essential for us, because we’re not Guy Fieri,” he says.
Each 22-minute episode is devoted to a different Southern city, starting with Charleston. Atlanta, Dallas, Louisville, New Orleans and Asheville are slated to follow.
“We’ve seen Charleston the Andrew Zimmern way, and the Rachael Ray way, and the Anthony Bourdain way,” Lee says. “This is our take on Charleston.”
Because of the channel’s emphasis, the new show isn’t exclusively about food, although a teaser shows the pair dropping by Martha Lou’s; hosting an oyster roast and sipping wine in Charleston Harbor. They also pay a visit to muralist Douglas Panzone.
A few days after the show’s first airing, the Lees are joining chef Edward Lee (no relation) in Louisville for their first major stage show. Matt Lee describes the program as a “scaling up of what we do at Southern Season and Charleston Cooks.” The performance will play to 250-300 people, instead of the few dozen who can squeeze into a cooking school kitchen.
“It’s going to be a show about Southern identity told through five recipes,” Lee says. “And the audience will be able to sip wine.”
Lee likens the program to an NPR version of the arena shows hosted by Alton Brown and Paula Deen, with more food content to balance out the comedy.
If the shows on June 18 and June 19 are successful, all three Lees are contemplating a road tour.
“Hopefully it will be fun and a sellout,” Lee says.
To stay abreast of the Lees’ activities, check out their Facebook page.