Station Spotlight: KCTS 9 Cooks Up a Winner

By Kelsey Savage, PBS Interactive

Around this time each year many of us are emerging from a tryptophan induced food coma and swearing off all the turkey leftovers. This year, you can turn to the Seattle-based KCTS 9 Cooks program to provided a wealth of delicious (and hopefully somewhat fool proof) recipes that will pull you out of a post-Thanksgiving lull.

The KCTS 9 Cooks program is a live, bi-annual show that features about sixteen local home cooks demonstrating their best recipes on a specific food theme. Originally, the KCTS team simply set out to mimic a show that the Pittsburgh PBS station produced, yet after 34 episodes and dozens of published cook books, the program has developed quite a bit.

“Our first show, in May 1996, was S is for Salads,” said Executive Producer Paula Nemzek. “We didn’t have a set and salads didn’t require cooking! It did so well that we got a set donated, and have been cooking for 15 years since.” In addition to the set, KCTS also added a restaurant recipe special into the mix and even lengthened the program—making each episode clock in at a total of four hours! Now, the KCTS 9 Cooks program is the most popular part of the station’s website and their cookbooks, which feature 300 recipes each, are their largest fundraiser.

KCTS 9 Cooks Dinner
As Nemzek points out, coordinating a live event of this scope takes lots of effort and the cookbook requires even more time. “The Cooks shows are done out of Development, not Production, kind of a hybrid between a production and an event. We couldn’t do the shows without a LOT of volunteer help,” she states. “These shows are truly a community effort, and most of our work is done in our ’spare‘ time, so it’s really a labor of love. The shows are a lot of work, and a lot of fun – a great way to connect to the community.” To get an idea of camaraderie that volunteers and KCTS staff experience at the joint filming and donation drive sessions, check out the behind the scene pictures and videos from their latest episode, KCTS 9 Cooks Dinner, which aired on November 5th.

One of the program’s goals is to develop their online presence, by hosting more videos and recipes on their website. While all of the internet video content may make your stomach grumble out of jealously, Nemzek has a soft spot for one particular recipe. “The Pacific Northwest Potatoes, from Robert Jacobsen of Issaquah, WA, is a comforting dish packed with smoked salmon, potatoes and a nice cheese sauce,” she shares. “We have it every year on Christmas Eve.”

The Station Spotlight series looks at #localpbs stations and the projects they are working on to highlight the innovative landscape of public media. If you would like to share your station's latest digital efforts, please contact

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