You can't say that you can cook better than mom, but that's the premise of a new cooking show, Just Like Mama, which is set to begin filming in January. In it, Miami personal chef Stuart Shaw re-creates healthier versions of home-cooked meals that celebrities knew best.
Shaw has been cooking for 30 years for clients such as Don Shula, Randy Starks, P. Diddy, and Jermain Taylor. He leads a team of chefs and dietary professionals for his company, the Miami Personal Chef.
Shaw is no stranger to crowds either, or television for that matter, previously appearing on one episode of Basketball Wives and The Ultimate Catch. Going up against mom and converting her comfort food into a more healthful version will be a challenge.
"It's very intimidating, but I believe ethnic foods, the dishes that we love, are the dishes that kill us," Shaw says. "To try to take a traditional dish and substitute things that are a bit healthier will be a challenge. You got to be a good chef to make those substitutions."
It was Shaw's charm and warm personality that made Anthony Piepatra of Accord Productions in Miami want to place him in the most down-to-earth setting possible: mom's kitchen, which is where his skills are put to the real test. He will attempt to imitate celebrities' favorite meals made by their mothers, but with healthier ingredients. Judges will include the celebs and their moms. Guests tentatively slated for the first couple of episodes will be rapper T-Payne and New England Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.
"Mom is the real star in the show," says Piepatra, who doesn't want the show to be just about cooking, but the personal stories. "We're not looking for the gossip and the tabloids, we're looking for stories about family cooking."
Piepatra says the inspiration for the show came from a friend who was bored watching "stale" Food Network personalities while recovering in the hospital. He hopes to mimic the success of VH1's Storytellers by combining its intimate narrative style with a cooking show. And by having T-Payne on the first episode, he also hopes to attract more celebrities.
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Piepatra recently completed a Doritos commercial for the Super Bowl and at any given time juggles at least 15 projects, including a movie production in South Florida.
"There are so many damn cooking shows on the air where everybody is trying to be different," Piepatra says. "We're going back to traditional, and there's nothing more traditional than mom."