A new program premiering Sunday on Food Network’s Cooking Channel will go wholly into folks who blend faith with food in everyday life.
On the debut of “Holy & Hungry” – airing at 2:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. Sunday, and 12:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Tuesday – see Stephen Brown featured among clergy members nationwide who cook up business by day and night with their own eateries. Brown is also the pastor of Living Word Baptist Church, 3162 U.S. 701 N., near Conway, owns and operates Freshwater Fish Company, just north up the highway.
The show host is MC Hammer, a Navy veteran, who later as a rapper in his trademark balloon pants in music videos, scored his biggest hit in 1990 with “U Can’t Touch This,” with sampled hooks from the late Rick James’ “Super Freak.”
Brown, who with wife Aprelle Brown, are raising a son and daughter, ages 20 and 17, respectively, spoke Thursday about the honor of being part of this new TV show.
“The show is based on people of faith, not just ordained ministers,” he said, “people of faith who are in the food industry. This show is about your faith affecting you in the food industry.”
Question | How did producers for “Holy & Hungry” hook up with you, and how much quality time with MC Hammer during a production crew’s visit in March ensued beyond the restaurant into the ministry facets in each of your lives?
Answer | Tons of it. It’s a wonderful story. We had a food critic come in and dine with us ... and that review was picked up by a magazine, South Carolina Living. ... From that, there was this TV production company and someone there had heard about us, and I got a phone call in the first part of February, and the lady said, “We had heard about your restaurant.” ... After several Skype interviews ... I was told, “Your segment will be in the first show we take first before the network for approval.” ...
So they flew in, in March ... and right before filming starts, I was asked, “Do you remember MC Hammer?” And I said, “Who doesn’t remember MC Hammer? I grew up on MC Hammer’s music.” ... They said, “You’re going to be cooking for Stanley Burrell; he’s going to be the host of this show.” ...
It was an experience I will never forget. ... He is very, very, very humble, and very polite, very warm. He is a teacher, because he’s had experience in the film industry, and with television and entertainment for so many years. He’s a natural at it. He really walked me through the process for retakes, and additional shooting and footage and all that kind of stuff. He made it easier for me. We forged a wonderful relationship.
Often when you see entertainers, whether it be current, past or whatever the situation with their career, you kind of thinking distant, egotistical and self-centered, and they’re all about them. He was the exact opposite of that. ...
It was 12 hours. We started filming at the church, then traveled to the restaurant.
Q. | How much does having a restaurant and serving the public during the workweek roll over into leading a congregation on weekends, and vice versa? Does the energy invested in each feed the passion for the other?
A. | It does. It has been a battle for me, because I have a passion for both. ... The food business is not an easy business; it’s a lot of work. It requires a lot of energy, time and commitment, because you’re providing a product for people to enjoy. Then ... with ministry, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, because you’re responsible for the spiritual welfare of people. ... I had to synchronize the two, instead of looking at them separately, so I’ve combined them, at least from a passion standpoint.
Q. | When producers filmed for the TV show, did they uncover new angles to your family business that you hadn’t realized or valued enough since opening in 2008?
A. | Absolutely. ... Everybody deep down must have some affection for the whole Hollywood thing, and we look it as, “It must be nice to be a star.” ... What I learned is, no matter what you are, appreciate what you do; your contributions are amazing to the people you serve. ...
They showed me how important the hometown restaurants are, with the relationship component. ... This show is very similar to what you see on the cooking shows like “Triple D” [“Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”] with Guy Fieri. They sit down and talk with customers. ...
They helped uncover that aspect of this business for me; they helped me see that it’s really more than about food; it’s about community.
Q. | You chuckled at being reminded about the fun of MC Hammer’s movie theme, “Addams Family Groove.” What’s your favorite hit by him? “Too Legit to Quit”? Or maybe, “Pray”?
A. | “Pray”: I love that. I had so many. ... I enjoyed them all, really.
Q. | Growing up, MC Hammer was a high school infielder, and a batboy who would dance and entertain on the field between innings for his hometown Oakland Athletics. Does your new friendship with MC Hammer fuel any fanfare for the A’s, the best team in Major League Baseball so far this year?
A. | I am a fan. He is still very health conscious, and he is still very much the great dancer. ... He’s still performing and going at it with the same energy and routines. ... He still talks very much about sports, and we did tease him about the A’s. ...
With the good shape he’s in: My daughter’s a dancer, and she kept saying, “I want to go on tour with him.”
Q. | How special is staying in touch with MC Hammer, a new friend for life?
A. | He was such a blessing. He took pictures with my mother, with my wife, and with my children. ...
One day, he just sent me a text, and it says, “Hammer time.” I go, “Whoa.” I’m standing there with my phone in my hand that says “Hammer time,” and thinking, “This can’t be real.”
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.