Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Fri October 07 2016

Former Idol Taylor Hicks Travels With Taste on ‘Slate Plate’

Entertainment | Lisa Iannucci | October 07, 2016

Former Idol Taylor Hicks Travels With Taste on ‘Slate Plate’

Photo courtesy of INSP

Taylor Hicks, season five winner of "American Idol,"  is a platinum selling artist and best-selling author as well as the man responsible for an entire “Soul Patrol” movement in pop culture. To that impressive resume you can add host of the INSP original series “State Plate” (which will premiere at 9 p.m. Oct. 21).

“It’s a dream come true,” said Hicks, who is from Birmingham, Alabama. “I've always wanted to host my own show. I'm on horseback steering cattle. I'm in Maine lobstering. It's almost like Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs meets Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

On the show, Hicks visits farms, ranches, markets, festivals, and other exciting locales to uncover the stories and legends behind the state’s unique food traditions. During his premier season, he visits Arizona, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maine, Florida, Texas and Louisiana. He also samples crab cakes in Maryland, peaches in Georgia, chili in Texas, and potatoes in Idaho.

 “I've been a foodie all my life,” said Hicks. “I've grown up in restaurants, obviously playing music and traveling as much as I have.”

Hicks credits “Big Momma,” his great grandmother, with starting his love of food. “She could fry chicken and there wasn’t one thing that she couldn't cook,” says Hicks. “I studied her in the kitchen a lot. There are relatives in my family who can make fried chicken. Then there are some relatives in my family who make meatloaf that glows in the dark. There's been quite a juxtaposition of culinary skills in my family. On Thanksgiving we always joke that whoever stays the shortest is the one can't cook the dressing.”

When he wasn’t performing, he admits to watching Food Network, including the “Next Food Network Star.” “I like Martie Duncan,” he said. “She was one of the best Food Network stars. I love all the shows. When I was on the road in the tour bus, we would always have the food channels on.”

A few years ago, he took his love of food to a new level and became an owner in Saw’s Juke Joint, a barbeque and blues bar in his hometown of Birmingham.

“I've actually pitched to host food shows on television before and the stars aligned,” he said. “Being able to talk about foods that are iconic to a particular state has been awesome. It’s educational show for me as I go along, and I'm hoping that it could be for the viewer as well.

Wait... no Alabama?

“We're saving Alabama for a big grand surprise,” says their hometown star. “It’s a work in progress, but our goal is to do all 50 states. I've been shooting State Plate on the weekdays, and touring on the weekends.”

However, hosting a show isn’t quite the same as performing in front of an audience, something Hicks has been doing his entire adult life. “Hosting has been a learning process, including making guests feel comfortable,” he says. “It’s their moment and they need to be comfortable.”

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