Tim Hollingsworth believes The Great American Recipe celebrates the food traditions, interview

The Great American Recipe Season 3 judges
The Great American Recipe Season 3 judges / PBS

During his culinary career, Tim Hollingsworth has received some of the highest accolades. From Michelin Stars to the Bocuse d’Or, Hollingsworth has showcased technical precision mixed with an emotional connection to food. As a new judge on PBSThe Great American Recipe, he wants to celebrate the food traditions, flavorful stories, and showcase that high low cooking can bring everyone to the table. In this interview with FoodSided, Hollingsworth’s thoughtful responses showcase how he is deeply connected with food and how he continues to foster that concept with others.

Tim Hollingsworth is no stranger to food television and culinary competitions. Many people will remember his success in Netflix’s Final Table. More recently, he has appeared on Food Network’s Tournament of Champions. While those shows pitted professional chefs against each other, The Great American Recipe celebrates home cooks and their stories.

When asked about joining the judging panel and how The Great American Recipe differs from other food television competitions, Hollingsworth said, this show “is meant to celebrate home cooking and highlight that positive, feel good” moment that food offers. While the positivity is clear, another aspect compelled Hollingsworth to join the show.

Specifically, he said, “immersing myself in and learning about food culture has always been a passion of mine. We are celebrating all the different nationalities that we have in America. This show really highlights how regional cuisine came over through people's ancestors, has been passed down, and became a tradition.”

Although the participants in this show are not professional chefs, Hollingsworth sees references to his cooking in their dishes. He mentioned, “I have recipes in my repertoire that are based off the ones that I learned in my mom’s kitchen.” Having that reference point allows him to better guide the home cooks. Without offending their traditional recipe, that cooking technique tip or guidance to balance the flavor can turn a good dish into a great one.

While The Great American Recipe is about community and camaraderie, Hollingsworth appreciates that food connection in his own professional development. While his successful restaurants have earned some of the industry’s highest accolades, he never loses sight of the playful side or the approachability that makes food accessible. The delicately plated food can be visually stunning and technically superb, but it can also evoke a simple childhood memory and make people smile.

Hollingsworth explained, “the way that people explain my food or how I cook is high low. What that means is that I can cook anything from your fine dining, Michelin star food to flipping hamburgers or barbecuing. I am broad, diverse, and I pride myself on that.”

He went on to explain an opening dish at Otium. That elevated funnel cake had non-traditional ingredients, but it captured the whimsical moment of eating that food at a summer fair. In one dish, it bridges that idea of high low perfectly. It is Michelin star meets fair food.

More importantly, Hollingsworth believes that those types of dishes spark a bigger conversation and eliminates the barrier to entry for some guests. It is similar to how his Chainz concept took those beloved dishes like a Pizza Hut Pan pizza and showcases it in another way.

Those special occasions that were part of many people’s humble childhood moments can be reimagined and revitalized in a way where the memory becomes more fulfilling. Without ever denigrating the original moment, it is a way to keep the connection fresh in people’s mind. Finding that delicate balance between the familiar, comforting and innovative is something that Hollingsworth has perfected.

Since Hollingsworth has learned to navigate the various parts of the culinary world, his insight and guidance will be meaningful to the home cooks on The Great American Recipe. This PBS food television show might be one small slice of the story, but he hopes that it can inspire others to nurture their food culture and story.

Beyond writing down the recipe to be preserved for years to come, Hollingsworth suggests that a great dish starts with a strong foundation. Just like his dad taught him the basis of construction when he was a kid, a great meal comes with doing. A professional chef hones his skills by cooking, and cooking again. That repetition not only builds confidence, but it refines the skill.

From there, a great dish can be created. Whether it is grandma’s recipe followed to the exact specifications or a dish flavored by the memories around the table, the home cook’s desire to keep those traditions and memories fresh are as important as the exact measurements.

The Great American Recipe Season 3 airs new episodes on Monday night at 9 p.m. ET. Episodes can also be streamed online or via the PBS app.