Martina McBride is one of country music's all-time greats.
During her 20-plus years in the spotlight, the versatile vocalist has notched three No. 1 country albums and dozens of Top 40 singles. She has sold more than 14 million records in the U.S. alone and has been nominated for more than 70 major country music awards.
There's no doubting McBride's prowess at the microphone, but here's something you may not know about the country star: She's pretty handy in the kitchen as well -- so much so that she has been featured on ABC's food-centric show "The Chew." Recently, I talked with McBride by phone about her passion for food.
Q: I know, of course, that you're a great vocalist, but I hear you're also quite the foodie.
McBride: I don't know about "foodie." I like to cook and I like to entertain. Of course, I like to eat. I do enjoy all of those things.
Q: What's your real strong suit: singing or cooking?
McBride: I'm better at singing. (Laughs.) For sure. I like to cook. I'm not a chef, by any means. I like to cook for my family. I'm not going to win any awards for my cooking, let's put it that way.
Q: How did you first become interested in cooking?
McBride: I grew up on a farm and was in 4-H. One of my projects was to cook a meal for my family. I didn't really do it much after that, until I moved out on my own -- I always cooked for myself. I didn't really start entertaining, though, until probably just a few years ago.
Q: You grew up in Sharon, Kan. Is Sharon known for any particular cuisine or dish -- like, I don't know, barbecue?
McBride: First of all, it's a town of about 180 people. We didn't have a restaurant. (Laughs.) So the answer is no.
Q: You don't strike me as a Jack-in-the-Box type. What do you eat on tour? Do you cook?
McBride: We don't really do fast food. We do catering on tour, so we usually eat a good healthy meal for dinner and lunch. But I do have a portable grill on the bus. I used to have a cooktop on the bus, when the kids were little. You never know if catering is going to have something (the kids) are going to like.
But yes, I've cooked on the bus before. We had a run about 10 years ago where we had particularly bad catering five shows in a row. We ended up sending out for food. It just wasn't good. On about the fifth day, I ended up making a couple of big pots of soup -- I think it was chili -- on my bus, and just had the whole crew, the band and everybody line up and fill up their bowls. I always joke that I would like to take a food truck on the road and cook for everybody.
Q: What do you get from cooking -- besides, of course, an actual meal?
McBride: I enjoy it. I think it is just a way to nurture. I like to make people feel good with what I serve. It's sort of creative. It's sort of relaxing.
Q: What are some favorite McBride dishes?
McBride: I make a chicken-and-sausage gumbo that everybody likes. Last night, I made lasagna, salad, fresh green beans and garlic bread. It's nothing too exotic.
Q: You've done some cooking demos on TV, right? Is that enjoyable or nerve-racking?
McBride: It's fun to do a cooking show because it's different and something I don't get to do all the time.
Q: Do you look forward to playing at places that have good restaurants on-site?
McBride: Yeah, I do, actually. We all do. It's always nice to have a really great meal. We sit down and eat together before the show. It's just a time to connect.