Philly native Patti LaBelle has had many great years since the start of her long career, but 2015 has got to rank among her high points. The R&B queen appeared on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” during its spring season, held a triumphant concert at the Dell this summer, and started her own television show on the Cooking Channel — “Patti LaBelle’s Place” — in the fall, with recipes for favorites like her Over the Rainbow Mac and Cheese flying as fast as her outrageous commentary.
And of course there’s her sweet potato pie, sold through Walmart. The tasty dessert's whose sales jumped up in November when James Wright Chanel became a viral video star with his over-joyous praise. Wright’s YouTube review got over four million views, and LaBelle’s pies sold out across the country.
Labelle not only repaid the favor to Chanel by having him come to her Philadelphia home for Thanksgiving (Questlove from The Roots was among her other guests), she’s also hosting him on a Cooking Channel special: "Patti LaBelle's Holiday Pies" first airs Dec. 16 at 8:30 p.m.
You’ve had quite an auspicious year. How was “Dancing with the Stars”?
I loved it. I would do it again if they allowed me.
What did you want to do with on “Patti LaBelle’s Place” that you hadn’t seen on other cooking shows?
Not cook with my jewelry. Honey, take off your rings. I see chefs on these shows and they’re cooking with all of their jewelry on. You’re working with ground turkey or beef and your hands are getting all, “ughhh,” with the meat. So I take off all of my rings and bracelets. It’s just not practical. Does that sound weird?
Not at all. Who cooks with adornment?
It’s all just for show. ... Not when I’m cooking.
Why do you think James Wright Chanel’s recommendation pushed sales of the pie so much?
It’s his personality. He’s a great natural singer who loves my music and when he tasted the pie, his reaction was just natural. It was an honest reply. Now, I’ve taken him under my wing. We spent Thanksgiving at my home. That was the first time I met him. He came in leopard — this little Tory Burch top — and became my sous chef for the show. He’s not a diva. He’s a really, dear man. I’m so happy for him and that video.
So what should we expect from the show tonight?
A half an hour of freaking fun.
And new music — you’ve got something coming in 2016?
I do, a jazz album. We don’t have a title yet, but I’ll tell you first.