Chef Michael Symon Talks Filming 'Dinners Cooking Out' at Home

Michael Symon
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Food Network

Michael Symon had been streaming cooking classes from his home in suburban New York since quarantine began, earning the Food Network Kitchen Facebook page more than 30 million views.

So with the channel's studio closed due to the coronavirus, the veteran TV chef's online success led to this self-shot backyard series, featuring dishes from sticky ribs to tart apple crisp. Fans ate it up, and six episodes of Symon's Dinners Cooking Out soon turned into 14. (July 26's is No. 8.)

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"Having the opportunity to shoot from my home allowed me to really connect with viewers," reflects Symon, noting that he's "received thousands of messages, photos and videos of viewers at home and what they are making with their families. Helping home cooks during these difficult times has been truly special for me."

According to Food Network president Courtney White, "we were able to pivot to a handful of remote, self-shot concepts with talents like Guy Fieri, Ree Drummond and Robert Irvine, forcing the team to be more creative."

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The result: newly imagined favorites, such as Giada De Laurentiis' Giada at Home 2.0 (Saturdays, noon/11am c), plus fresh entries like Amy Schumer Learns to Cook (returning soon). Ratings soared in April, when most of the country was at home, and remain strong. 

It seems cooked-from-home shows will be part of culinary programming for some time. PBS foodies can expect America's Test Kitchen to be one of them. When production on the mainstay's 2021 season had to adapt, says Jack Bishop, ATK's chief creative officer, "we set up 11 different shoots in 11 cast members' kitchens. The talent will do all of the food prep, and a few will operate their own camera." The season will take 10 weeks to shoot instead of three, but fans can still expect the usual 26 episodes to debut the first week of January.

In the meantime, Symon will continue to fire up his grill!

Symon’s Dinners Cooking Out, Sunday, July 26, 12:30/11:30am c, Food Network