Its hard for David Venable to stop being David Venable.
Even away from his QVC cooking show, In the Kitchen With David, he talks fast and in a polished broadcaster style, a result of decades in front of the camera.
Still, these days when hes talking about his new cookbook, In the Kitchen With David: Comfort Foods That Take You Home, what hes often talking about is his own hometown good ol Charlotte, N.C.
I never miss a chance to talk about where Im from, he says. Born and raised in east Charlotte, class president of Independence High in 1983, he has deep, deep, deep Charlotte roots.
That message of home resonates throughout his book, which is unabashedly Southern-tinged, down-home, comfort food.
Comfort food is that food that brings you home again, he says. Its the food you hope your mom would make on your birthday.
Apparently, that hits home with a lot of folks. Before the book was even released last week, it had sold 245,000 advance copies to QVC viewers, an extraordinary number when even the biggest cookbooks rarely sell more than 50,000 copies.
The road to QVC
Venable was in broadcasting long before he was in cooking. A graduate of UNC Chapel Hill (where he was also class president) with a degree in radio, TV and film, he was a news anchor and reporter in West Virginia and Pennsylvania before he landed on QVC, based near Philadelphia, almost 20 years ago.
But he always loved to cook and says he learned from his mother, Sarah, a nurse and single parent who raised three children. He also talks a lot about the influence of his grandmothers in Charlotte and Valdese.
Three years ago, he got the chance to take on a cooking show for QVC. In the Kitchen With David features recipes and appearances by chefs selling cookware and cookbooks. He hosts everyone from Nigella Lawson to Rachael Ray and Paula Deen, who got her start with her own book on QVC.
I really wanted to put my handprint on the show and bring in this celebration of the home cook. Thats what I feel I am Im not a chef, Im an accomplished home cook.
Time for a cookbook
After all those years, why a cookbook now? The people spoke, he says. The shows recipes, now up to 250, are posted online, and they were getting a lot of traffic.
The customers were saying loud and clear, Its time for a cookbook. Still, he says he didnt want to just print the recipes they already had. So about 80 percent of the book is new, while 20 percent was picked by readers online, labeled Foodie Favorites.
The recipes are mostly the kind of simple Southern cooking Venable learned growing up.
The book is all about accessibility, he says. Its all about bringing the family back around. Growing up, family dinner was nonnegotiable.
Venable is single, but he still cooks and entertains at home a lot.
Cooking and eating is so much about having interaction with other people. I dont really enjoy cooking alone, he says. For him, it always ends up in the kitchen with friends, glass of wine in hand.
The book will give him an excuse to bring himself home, too. Hes doing book signings in both Charlotte and Cary. Hell get a chance to visit with his brother in Hillsborough and, of course, his mom in Charlotte.
Not that she doesnt see him frequently already. Sarah Venable is an avid, avid QVC watcher, he says. When she cant be home, she records me. She watches all of it.