Busta’s Person of the Week: Bambi Daniels to showcase family’s signature dish on PBS cooking show “It’ll feel like somebody gave them a plate of love!”

Busta’s Person of the Week: Bambi Daniels to showcase family’s signature dish on PBS cooking show “It’ll feel like somebody gave them a plate of love!”
June 09
08:37 2022

On June 24 PBS will premiere “The Great American Recipe,” an eight-part series where home cooks will showcase two of their beloved signature dishes. Winston-Salem’s own Bambi Daniels will showcase her family’s signature “Smoked Mac and Cheese with Bacon.” 

Bambi describes her family’s cooking as ‘heart and soul’ food “because it’s done with love. It touches and comforts the soul. When you add the heart in it, that’s a part of my family. When you come in our house, you’re going to have a whole meal, dessert and something else. It’s by the grace of God we’re all not 400-500 pounds,” Bambi jokes.

She is a true sweetheart and absolutely hilarious! I laughed and nearly fell out of my chair several times during the interview. Bambi’s humorous and serious sides came out as she shared how authentic connections are made and walls broken down when families sit down together at the dinner table. She did a spot-on and hilarious impersonation of the TV character Sandra Clarke on the ‘80s sitcom “227.”

“Busta, this is just a joke, but even if yo’ cousin stole yo husband, when you’re at the dinner table, you gotta make it right,” joked Bambi. 

After we gathered our composure from laughing, she paused for a few seconds and then softly said, “We always made things right, and we always made it right over food. I was taught that food is a reflection of you. If you make it with bitterness, your food is bitter. If you make it with love, no matter what someone gives you, it’s the best thing you ever tasted.” 

When “The Great American Recipe” premieres on June 24, the world is going to fall in love with Bambi Daniels’ heart-and-soul food cooking demonstration and energetic personality. She credits her aunt Azalee for her personality and sense of humor. “She was our superstar. She was our icon. She’s the one that introduced the family to Sunday brunch after church,” shared Bambi. 

Her mother, Mary Emma, is her greatest inspiration and the glue that bonds the family together, but recent health issues have kept the matriarch from cooking. “My mom contracted COVID at the end of 2020. She stopped eating and lost weight; it was harsh. Right as she was getting better, she had a major stroke. She coded on us; it was a code blue. I grabbed her and said, ‘Mommy, you can’t leave right now,’ and then I yelled for the doctors and nurses. When they brought her through, the first thing she said was, ‘Is that Bambi out there hollering? And tell her don’t tell anybody what happened to me,’” joked Bambi. She added while laughing, “The doctor said, ‘How you gonna wake up from heaven and tell people what to do?’” 

Mary Emma is a strong and sassy woman and while battling her illness, she continued cooking and nursing one of Bambi’s sisters to health. But, after the major stroke, Mary Emma’s body had gotten very weak. “She’s still maintaining and in good spirits,” said Bambi with a smile. Bambi has that magical ability to take a serious story and turn it into something funny and beautiful. 

In 1987, Daniels moved from Chester, South Carolina, to attend North Carolina A&T State University and later became a resident of Winston-Salem. “I’ve been here forever, Busta Brown! I remember when you used to hang up on folks,” she said while laughing. While growing up in Chester on her grandparent’s farm “… everybody in my family cooked. That’s our love language. We were never raised to go to restaurants. We were raised to eat meals prepared using what we grew and raised. We always had wonderful meals. It wasn’t before I was 10 years old I learned how to cook chicken back for my grandmother,” I had never heard of chicken back, so I asked Bambi to share how it’s prepared. “You cut the leg quarters off and you’d have the chicken back. You season it well, add water and then roast it in the oven.”

This summer, Bambi Daniels will share one of her family’s signature recipes with the world, Smoked Mac and Cheese with Bacon. “It’s passed down from generation to generation. And you add your own twist to it by trying to make it better than the other person. That’s a competition in itself, so this competition is going to be easy,” said Bambi. She’s speaking of “The Great American Recipe” competition. 

I asked Bambi what the judges will say after tasting her Smoked Mac and Cheese with Bacon. “It’ll feel like somebody gave them a plate of love!” 

I asked how she found out about the competition. “I got a message in my inbox and I gave them my email, and then one of the producer’s assistants sent me all the links and information. I sent in my audition tape sharing what I like to cook and what I would bring to the show. I said, I sing and dance. I was just being me,” shared Bambi. The South Carolina native received an email announcing that she was chosen as one of the ten contestants. 

“I was like, oh my goodness! When I get nervous I studder, and I was told people would perceive me as dumb. Because I’ve always been funny and silly, people have said mean things about me. So, I had lots of doubts of why I shouldn’t do the show, but my husband said, this is your time; do it. Then I said, you know what? I’m going to do it!” shared the excited wife of seven years. Bambi’s husband, Owens Daniels, is a well-known visual artist and photographer. 

Bambi shared the wonderful experience she had on the set of the TV show. “Everyone was extremely nice and it felt like family. Even the celebrity chefs were amazing! It’s totally different from any other food competitions I’ve seen on other networks. It’s about family. We get to tell our stories of family. It’s having a competition feel, but the judges aren’t judging, they’re teaching us to better develop our craft. Even the contestants weren’t competitive; instead we became great friends and were like family. I am so excited!” 

My phenomenal Person of the Week is Bambi Daniels. Winston-Salem, make sure you save the date and show your support. “The Great American Recipe” premieres on Friday, June 24, and runs through August 12, 9-10:00 p.m. EST (check local listings) on PBS,, and the PBS Video app. The show is hosted by Alejandra Ramos, with celebrity judges Leah Cohen, Tiffany Derry and Graham Elliot. 


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