From the outside, Millie Martins Rock Hill home doesnt look much different from the ones that surround it. But walk inside her front door, and Martins impeccably clean living room, kitchen and dining room smell of pie, beans, cabbage and untold other Southern-style delicacies that she whips up in her kitchen every day.
A few months ago, that house, so often filled with family members and friends, was full of 15 cameramen, producers, cameramen and TV host Mo Rocca as they filmed Martin, 72, for the new Cooking Channel show, My Grandmothers Ravioli.
The episode, the second of the season, airs Wednesday at 8 p.m.
It was just amazing, Martin said. This is something Ive never experienced.
My Grandmothers Ravioli follows Rocca, who is known for his comedy and satire and is frequently on CBSs Sunday Morning, as he travels across the nation, visiting the kitchens and communities of Americas grandparents.
He has learned a lot from the grandparents who have opened their kitchens and lives to him and his cameras, Rocca said.
I knew that she had a really big open personality, which immediately set me at ease, he said of Martins demeanor.
And anyone whos ever met her would tell you that Martins the kind of lady that would prefer to give you a hug instead of a handshake.
It was Martins granddaughter who nominated her to be on the show, and a few months later, she had a full crew surrounding her in her kitchen as she showed Rocca how to make sweet potato pie, macaroni and cheese and other classic dishes. She even had made some of her famous chicken salad and sweet tea for the crew.
Were going to get fired, they kept telling me, Martin said. They kept coming back to eat more.
Martin said it could be challenging at times to show them how to make her signature dishes because she doesnt measure and she doesnt taste, she just goes from experience.
But when they werent in the kitchen, Rocca and several other people involved in the show went with Martin to her church in Edgemoor, Red Oak A.M.E. Zion. Rocca even got up and sang in the choir with her.
I want to learn who these grandparents are and what matters to them, he said.
For Martin, that was her faith and her church. Rocca called them the ingredients that contribute to her life.
Lord, he is so sweet, Martin said of Rocca. He enjoyed his self, yes he did.
Martin did say that Rocca was too small he needs to come back to her kitchen so she can put some meat on his bones.
I would gladly accept that invitation, Rocca said.
After the filming was over in Rock Hill, Martin made a trip to New York to film a promo, she said. A limo picked her up at the airport and she got to stay at a hotel in Times Square, more than 30 stories up.
Youre never too old for something to happen in your life, said Martin of the entire experience.
No matter how much times and technology change, Martin said there are some things she will always do the old-fashioned way. Looking around her kitchen, you wont see a single mixer or food processor. Everything is done by hand.
In one of her kitchen drawers, youll find a potato masher that belonged to her mother and that she uses on a regular basis.
When I got ready to come home from New York, I said, Wheres my potato masher? she said.
Next to the masher is an ice pick thats older than Martin herself. On her familys farm in Edgemoor, there was no refrigerator, there was an icebox, and three times a week, the ice man would come and deliver ice. Martins family would let the neighbors come by, use that ice pick, and take some home.
One day, Martin hopes, one of her children or grandchildren or nieces or nephews or great grandchildren, of which she has 11, will take the pick and the masher for their own homes.
Not enough young people want to learn to cook from their grandparents, Martin said.
They just think, Grandmas the one that makes it, she said. Grandmas not going to be here forever.
Her personal cooking philosophy is all about making food your own. Once you do that, she said, people will want you to make it all the time.
Those people are Martins large extended family, both biological and her church family. And many of them will gather at Buffalo Wild Wings on Meeting Boulevard in Rock Hill to watch the episode together.
Shes not nervous about seeing her episode and her face on national television, Martin said. She just feels lucky that she got to do it at all.
How many people cook all the time and never get to do this and here I am, she said. Im just blessed.
Rachel Southmayd • 803-329-4072