A few years ago, actress Haylie Duff launched a blog called Real Girl’s Kitchen to share recipes and cooking tips. Last year, the blog expanded into a book of the same name, allowing Duff the opportunity to more fully explore her love of all things culinary. Now, this weekend, Real Girl’s Kitchen takes a whole new evolution — this time in the form of a ten-episode cooking show on Cooking Channel. The series, which premieres on June 7, follows Duff as she explores various facets of the food world and teaches viewers how to turn chef at home.
For Duff, who has several movies in the works as well, cooking is a way to showcase her true self. The actress talked to TIME about how Real Girl’s Kitchen became a TV series and why, exactly, we should all get on board with kale.
TIME: When did you shoot Real Girl's Kitchen?
Haylie Duff: We’ve been shooting on and off for the past six months or so. We took our time making it because originally it was a web series. We did our own schedule, and I did some movies in between shooting some of the episodes. And now we get to go onto the Cooking Channel, which is crazy!
How did that come about?
Truthfully, by the grace of the universe. We shot the series as a web series and put a promo out, and then a executive at Cooking Channel saw the promo and we went in for a meeting. We figured out how to make both work – we did the show online first, and then on Saturday we premiere on Cooking Channel. It will air as if it’s a new series that has never been online before, which is sort of a bizarre concept, but it’s new and different.
Did you ever think you would be someone with a Cooking Channel show?
One hundred percent not. I still pinch myself. I think about who I was when I typed up that first blog post, and I never in a million years would have thought this would happen. I’m so grateful and I try to be present every step of the way.
Have you always been interested in cooking and food?
It’s more of a new revelation as an adult. I talk in my cookbook about my mom discovering my take-out menu drawer. We were never the family that ordered pizza, and my mom never came home with a bucket of fried chicken. My mom always made home-cooked meals. We always sat down at the dinner table as a family. So my mom was devastated when she learned that I ordered delivery all the time. The look on her face spawned me wanting to learn how to cook. I had a lot of disasters in the kitchen as I learned.
What’s the first thing someone should learn how to do in the kitchen?
I think the first thing you should learn is how to roast a chicken. Once you can roast a chicken you can pretty much figure out anything else. And who doesn’t like roasted chicken? It’s a classic. You can serve it at a dinner party with a salad and a nice side and it has a great presentation, or you can put it in the oven after a day of work. It’s a go-to dish for me. There’s so many things you can do with it.
Has learning to cook made you more aware of where your food comes from?
Yes — to the point that I drive people crazy! I’m interested in where it comes from. I love the idea of farm to table and farmer’s markets. I enjoy a meal more if I know I’m eating something that’s good quality and good for me. I think it scares some people, maybe, and that’s why they don’t want to dive too deep. There’s a lot of scary stuff out there.
What are some of the culinary themes your show will tackle?
It’s a loose format, which is one of the cool things about it. The first episode we go out to Malibu for a girl’s weekend to eat green juice and turmeric shots and all that kind of detox stuff. We go to Brooklyn in one of the episodes and go to two incredible restaurants. We visit a rooftop farm while we’re in Brooklyn, which is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. We do a big crab boil in my backyard with my family. We recreate burgers from Plan Check [in Venice, CA]. I visit a goat farm and make goat cheese. We cover some miles.
What’s the coolest thing you learned how to do?
It might have been when we went to Soledad Farms and made goat cheese. I always buy this goat cheese when I’m at the farmer’s market and it has flavors — there’s a lavender one, a honey one. It’s the most delicious but light goat cheese I’ve ever had in my life. I had done some research on this farm and they’re also an animal rescue. Julian [Pearce] is a French cheese-maker who bought a farm in California and he rescues any animal that comes his way. He claims that his goat cheese is more delicious than any other goat cheese because the goats are all happy.
That seems like a really good reason to have a cooking show.
Yeah! In my actual life, a food adventure is my favorite thing to do. To get to do it on the show was amazing.
You mention in one episode how much you love kale. For those who are skeptical, can you defend its merits?
I love kale. I ate it for lunch today. It’s just the best thing ever – it’s so good for you. There’s so many things to do with it. You can eat it raw, you can massage it into a salad, you can sauté it. It’s just the best little green ever. However, I get a lot of people who write to me on my blog and on Twitter who say they live somewhere where they can’t find kale in their stores. So one thing I’ve been encouraging people to do is order it online. It’s so easy to grow in the ground! It’s truly the easiest thing to grow. You can bring kale to you.
As you continue to pursue both acting and cooking, do you have a goal for where you want your career to go?
That’s such a good question because I’ve been very lucky this past year. I’ve been able to continue to make movies and also make the show and keep up with my blog and go on a book tour. I’ve been able to have the best of both worlds. I definitely don’t take that for granted. I think if I could continue doing that I’d be the happiest girl around. But really, Real Girl’s Kitchen has been my focus for the last year. It changed my life. I discovered myself in a whole new way. I would love to see a second season for the show. I’d love to write another cookbook. In a perfect world, I’d get to keep doing both.
What do you hope people take away from the show?
I’m not a trained chef. I’m a self-taught cook and I want people to be like, “Yo, I could do that! Maybe I didn’t think to or maybe it seemed harder than it really is.” That’s one thing people are going to really like about it. It’s not unattainable.