It’s a classic Southern fairy tale: Beauty queen meets country music star, and they fall in love and live happily ever after. Except for that time said country star invited the entire cast of Nashville to their Tennessee abode with less than 24 hour’s notice—don’t worry, more to come on that.
While Allison DeMarcus wears many hats as wife to Jay (bassist, guitarist, and vocalist for Rascal Flatts), mother of two, host of CMT’s Reel Eats, and philanthropist, she still finds time to whip up a casserole or two.
A few of Allison’s one-dish wonders appear in our latest cookbook, a collaboration with CMT that’s a little bit country, a little bit family, and a whole lot of good food. In honor of Country Music’s Greatest Eats (released last week), we sat down with the Jackson, Tennessee, native to talk food, family, and, of course, casseroles.
On country music’s new family cookbook
“It didn’t seem like [Country Music’s Greatest Eats] was supposed to start out as a family cookbook, but those are the recipes that the artists shared because those are their favorites. Miranda Lambert shared her mom’s favorite recipe for meatloaf that she makes for her every year on her birthday. Wynonna [Judd] shared a recipe from her Great-aunt Toddie that she now makes for her daughter. There are a lot of great stories to tell that all stem from family.”
“When Tanner [Latham] called me to do my interviews for the book, he said, ‘Allison, you do realize that every recipe you sent is a casserole?’ I said, ‘You do realize that I’m from the South? That is what we do—we throw it all in a Pyrex.”
On dinnertime at the DeMarcus home
“Jay does the cooking. I’m usually wiping something off the floor.”
“I love to set my table, to get out trays. I love setting it all up. That’s just as fun for me as it is to eat it all. We do love to entertain, and we entertain often, so I always try to have one thing that is personal if I have someone cater it.”
On surprise guests
“Jay drops some bombs on me, so I have to enlist help when he, all of the sudden, decides that he is going to invite the entire cast of Nashville to our house the next day.”
Nashville lesson learned—on keeping calm
“Keep someone’s number on standby, so you can enlist help and don’t actually end up hurting your husband when he invites people over to your house.”
On juggling it all
“I don’t sleep a lot. I just have to stay focused on what I have right there in front of me. I really try to make sure that my focus, when I’m not on set working, revolves around my kids. They deserve and warrant all of my attention, and if I’m not giving it to them, they will let me know.”
On advice from her mom
“She always encourages me to take time for myself. I have a very selfless mother, so it’s hilarious to me that she emphasizes this. She has always told me to keep doing what I want to do, so that I will always have a professional happiness, in addition to my personal happiness.”
Enter for a chance to win five copies of Country Music’s Greatest Eats! Tell us about your favorite family recipe in the comments section below. See official rules. Contest begins today and ends Friday, May 16.