Don't Mess With Patti LaBelle's Kitchen (Exclusive)
By Chris Azzopardi
Soul icon and pie queen Patti LaBelle knows food is always better when served with a side of sass, as evidenced by her interactions with guests ranging from 50 Cent to Laverne Cox on her Cooking Channel show, Patti LaBelle's Place, which returned with a new season on Nov. 26.
LaBelle, 73, dished to ET about the show's second season, the people she doesn't allow in her kitchen and how the cast of the Fox series Star -- on which she will appear as Carlotta Brown’s (Queen Latifah) mother -- ate more of her desserts than she authorized.
ET: What are the requirements for being a guest on Patti LaBelle's Place?
Patti LaBelle: You just have to be a friend of Patti's who can or cannot cook, and if you can't cook at all, I'm gonna do it all and have you chop up a few onions.
Who surprised you most with their cooking skills this season?
I knew Tamela Mann -- she can cook. Cedric [the Entertainer] can't. I think he's a great eater, but I don't think he's preparing too many meals.
I love the commentaries you film outside of the kitchen, like when you chided 50 Cent for making a mess while cutting corn off the cob.
Yeah, well, I have OCD. It's all right to have it -- it keeps things clean. So, if you're gonna help me cook, I don't like water splashed on the sink, like water spots left once you rinse off the celery. Clean up that splash!
Who was the messiest celeb you've cooked with? 50 Cent?
He was not too bad. You know, he was on the verge of being awful, but I had to check him.
Meaning people? Well, you know, it has to happen. I've been that way all my life, and if you're not right in the kitchen, I'll send you out.
How was Laverne Cox?
Oh, she was wonderful. She was singing in the kitchen! She has an operatic voice, and I didn't know she was a singer!
What did she sing?
I think she sang one of my jazz songs from my album [Bel Hommage]. I can't remember exactly. Once I do the episodes, I don't think about them. I'm so nervous getting them done that after I'm like, "Well, I know my editing crew, they got it all." So, I don't remember what I made for her! [Laughs] I'll tell you, with the show, I did about 12 guests and I don't remember the dishes.
Do you sing in the kitchen?
I'm not usually listening to music. I'm usually looking at the ID [Investigation Discovery] Channel while I'm cooking. It's crazy, but that's me.
What's the craziest thing that has happened in Patti's kitchen?
Of course I had macaroni in the oven and it was supposed to be in there for not very long, and I think I was on the phone and the kitchen was smokin' and it was the macaroni! That wasn't a good Patti moment.
What are your rules for being a host?
Don't come in the kitchen, don't go upstairs in my house. Make yourself comfortable in every other room.
What don't you love about having your guests in the kitchen?
If you're gonna help me sous chef, you can leave. I like to be alone. And you know what I hate? Somebody over there, "Oh, you should've put more cinnamon in that, girl." I say, "Now, see, you got to go." Don't be telling me what you would do with your food.
Just those little certain things bother me. If you want to help me, sure, I'll welcome that. But like I said, just cut up a few things and then leave, because I am driving this train.
Do you still get people who are surprised you can cook?
A few, yeah. Then I have to make them a believer by letting them watch me cook. Sometimes I'll let you in the kitchen because you're suspect. Those folks are allowed in the kitchen. [Laughs]
Do you have to bring your famous sweet potato pies everywhere you go?
Heck no! But every time I get on the flight or check into a hotel, "Ms. Patti, you got a pie in your purse?" I say, "No, it's in the big suitcase." I just play with 'em. Last week we were doing Star and everybody had asked me for my sweet potato pie when we started filming, so my son went to Walmart and bought everything -- the peach cobblers, the banana pudding, the pies -- and I said, "OK, everybody can have a slice of pie." You know those suckers left with whole pies and cobblers! Some of them left with two! There were, like, a hundred people there. So, people think when they see the pie they have to take the whole pie. That annoyed me. But we had fun.
You gave a pie to Martha Stewart during your recent visit to Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party. What did Martha think of the pie? And will she be returning the favor and appearing on Patti LaBelle's Place?
Of course! We planned that before I did their show. So, they're gonna come on next season. And you know what, Martha didn't taste my pie, I don't think. But guess what? If she ate it off-set, she loved it. This I know is true. [Laughs]
Patti LaBelle's Place airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on the Cooking Channel.