29-Year-Old Molly Yeh Brings Her Culinary Voice To Food Network
On June 24th, a new show debuted on the Food Network: Girl Meets Farm shot on the North Dakota farm that 29-year-old Molly Yeh calls home.
In the Fall of 2016, 30 Under 30 listmaker Molly Yeh visited New York as part of her book tour for Molly on the Range: Recipes and Stories from an Unlikely Life on a Farm, her debut cookbook, which won the IACP award.
While she was in town, Food Network asked for a meeting in their Chelsea Market offices. Yeh was initially excited about a pre-meeting lunch at Dizengoff, also in Chelsea Market, and then the show “just happened.” The collaboration “felt awesome from the moment [she] stepped in the office.” They suggested a show, found a producer, shot a sizzle reel and then a pilot. The first season of seven episodes is now airing, featuring dishes like shakshuka with feta, olive oil blondies with chocolate frosting and her signature sprinkles and pistachio buttercream cookies. Yeh, who is Chinese and Jewish, draws inspirations from those cuisines, as well as her husband’s Nordic heritage and her Midwestern home.
Yeh is one of the youngest Food Network hosts and continues to blog regularly—she calls that space, named the Best Food Blog by Saveur, “My Name is Yeh,” “a diary first and food blog second.” It’s more spontaneous—“[she] can post literally any recipe that [she] wants: a work in progress, failure, something crazy complicated, ” alongside stories about her weekend.
For the show, Yeh adapted recipes from her cookbook and developed some new ones with her family members in mind. Each episode features family, from the baby shower brunch she throws for her sister-in-law to a day making potstickers with her father.
While television can be a one-sided experience, Yeh values her followers and readers and sees the video as a way to share things that are hard to capture in written recipes: exactly how to frost a cake, work with a particular dough or make a multilayer cake. Video gave a chance to “show people, as opposed to telling them, how to do it in the written word. It’s easier and more inspiring to show people how to frost a cake.” She had done short videos before, on the blog, on Instagram for her over 300,000 followers and through Tastemade’s Snapchat channel. The network show lets her share this with a wider audience, and the response has been powerful.
Every Sunday when the show airs, Yeh has a chance to connect. She describes the mood as “like hanging out with a lot of people at once, in their kitchens or living rooms” as she reads viewer reactions and sees them try her recipes. She’s always communicating with the audience, announcing her show on Instagram, sharing behind the scenes tidbits oh her blog about the process of shooting and how they “greeked” or obscured the brand, of everything in her kitchen, a detail she remembered from watching 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray growing up.
Throughout filming, Yeh worked to keep everything true to her vision, with total support from the network. She recalls one night before a shoot, when she was kept awake thinking about a pizza recipe from her book. She liked the recipe but was now making it with a new topping: broccolini, which she wanted the episode to reflect. Yeh made a last minute request and they filmed broccolini pizza, which is eaten atop the tractor.
Yeh has her “fingers crossed for a second season” and is starting to work on her second cookbook and fall recipes for the blog. She’s built a multiplatform brand that reflects her enthusiasms (choosing a favorite sprinkle would be like choosing a favorite child and attending the Olympics in Pyeongchang this year was “an absolute dream come true”). She’s constantly inspired by her family and husband, “how hard he works on the farm and how much he cares for his family business,” as she builds a business of her own.