Samantha Harris doesn’t consider herself a “Culinary Genius,” but she may become one after hosting the summer Fox TV show.

The show featuring home cooks debuted Monday locally on My29, where it will air at 4:30 p.m. for three weeks. It’s produced by chef Gordon Ramsay, who’ll make appearances while Edward Lee serves as lead chef.

“This is a realm I’ve never worked. This is incredibly exciting territory and so new for me,” the Hopkins High alum and former host of “Entertainment Tonight” and “Dancing With The Stars” said by phone.

“I’m a home cook just to the extent of being a mom to two little girls and needing to put dinner on the table every night. For those who want to see how you can beautifully prepare a meal in 25 minutes that is restaurant-worthy from taste to presentation, ‘Culinary Genius’ is definitely the show to watch. I’m a fangirl watching the show from an in-person point of view. For me, the tips and the tricks you learn from Gordon and from chef Edward are the best part of the show.”

Next year, Harris will be promoting a new book, which I gather will be health-related and include the full list of ingredients for her green power smoothie, about which she rhapsodizes on social media. She was recently in town visiting her mom, Bonnie Harris Shapiro, and hitting up Sebastian Joe’s and DQ. “I have a sweet tooth and I’ve tamed it; I don’t need to have that every day.”


Q: I see you’ve got “Culinary Genius” contestants filleting fish. Have you ever filleted a salmon?

A: Not a salmon. We go to our local farmers market every Sunday and there is a fresh fish vendor there. I buy salmon fillets already cut but I buy a whole branzino. The first time I did this was risky. I looked at some recipes online and I did it. Easy as pie to cook and make taste great. Not that easy to fillet. There is always a disclaimer to my husband and kids to watch out for bones.


Q: What food provides you the most umami?

A: I LOVE sushi. I’m trying very hard to limit my animal product intake. Sushi every Friday with my kids is really a delight. Post-cancer, I’ve been eating a much more heavily plant-based diet. The switch has been tremendous for me. I have a green [50-ounce] smoothie that I make every morning. It’s very dense. There are so many ingredients I won’t even bore you with them. I Instagram and tweet about it all the time. I crave it. The more you teach your body to eat healthy things, the more your body wants that. That’s what I have my umami for.


Q: What food never passes your lips?

A: Sadly, seaweed, which is so healthy for you. So many minerals and wonderful things in it. That is one thing I would like to start and try and make myself [eat]. I have [my sushi] wrapped in soy paper instead. Red meat doesn’t pass my lips. Growing up in Minnesota, I ate every part of the cow, tongue to almost tail and I loved it. My mom made fabulous brisket and lamb chops. There was no piece of red meat I wouldn’t eat as a kid. I lost the taste for it as I got older. Then making healthy choices post-cancer, I wouldn’t reintroduce it.


Q: Is there a dish your kids beg you to cook?

A: Homemade pizza. Whole-wheat crust, organic cheese. There’s a turkey meatball recipe we love with whole-wheat spaghetti. One secret thing they don’t know, we do a little secret sauce action here with steamed broccoli and carrots.


Q: If we were eating lunch in public and I was peppering you with annoying questions, would you let me leave with food in my teeth?

A: Definitely not. One of my pet peeves.


Q: Would you return to “Dancing with the Stars” as a contestant?

A: In a heartbeat. The conversation has been had.


Q: What do I have to tweet to get “Entertainment Tonight” anchor Kevin Frazier to wear suits as colorful and tasteful as Morris Chestnut’s? I’m chummy with Kevin but you probably know him better. His dark wardrobe is boring; he ignores my complaints on Twitter.

A: Very funny. He’s not a Morris Chestnut, you know.

C.J. can be reached at and seen on FOX 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject.