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And Then I Cooked Live on the Today Show… With Carson Daly…on the Plaza

Carson and Bren Smile

I mean, how cute is he?! Can’t you tell from my grin and lazy eye that I was enjoying every second of cooking with Carson Daly? I thought my excitement would have simmered down by now but I finally just had a chance to watch the broadcast segment and that reopened the bottled up emotion of having spent an incredibly amazing hour in NY last Wednesday. I’ve been overwhelmed by the beautiful response my friends from all over have been giving me on social media. My childhood friends aside (who came out of the woods) my church friends, blogging friends, culinary colleagues, and even some friends over seas as far as Australia and Thailand, spread some serious love all over Facebook, Twitter, and some on Instagram to the point my cell crashed at 7:55 am. So, while trying to thank everyone one-by-one (which is still impossible), enjoying the massive amounts of screen shots shared on FB, and catching up on work I missed, I didn’t have the time to sit at my desk to review the pictures my parents took and craft this post. But here I am, on a lovely late Monday afternoon, still on a high from cooking on the TODAY show Plaza for their Fresh Cooks Live summer grilling series which happened all last week.

And I had a blast.

Today Show Plaza Prep

Others whom have cooked on the best morning show (ever!! — my friend Simone and I used to have catch-up viewing parties on the weekend when I lived in Atlanta) may not have made such a big to do about the moment. After all, it turns out be another day of work. But for me, it’s so much more than just having cooked alongside Carson and watching Al Roker, Matt Lauer and the pretty ladies Savannah and my fave Natalie enjoy my food — it’s much ado about a little 7- year old dream that has finally realized and it was 20x better than I could have expected!

And it’s not because I’ve been a die-hard NBC/peacock fan from the soap operas when I used to watch them to their dramas or because I’ve been an obsessive, gluttonous TODAY show viewer and fan since I was in high school even before Katie Couric was at the helm and sitting at her desk where her legs were much the public piece of conversation or because I’ve been following Carson’s career since he hosted TRL (and I thanked the tv gods when they switched up the format of his late night show), or because I’ve always wondered what Studio 1A really looks like….

It has everything to do with the magic behind the cameras that makes us tune in for hours every morning: the staff and crew.

No wonder the anchors always look good, happy, and genuinely seem to love their jobs! I mean, there is some killer passion behind that working bunch. Between the food stylists, the culinary director (who is a charming, charming lady), the camera crew, the cooks, and the producers (so on point and diligent), being present at NBC and being “inside” the Plaza was akin to having the best colleagues at the best job.

Every one was over-the-top friendly but with a candid and professional demeanor. Yes, I was on the Today show, but yes they also made me feel like those 30 minutes or so I was on between the live streaming online and the actual broadcast segment, were all about my food. They extended themselves to me in the way we all should treat each other — with kindness and generosity. I’m not even lying to you.

Even the gentleman who put on my apron (so glad I wore that thing!!) was ever so graceful.

TS Prep 7

And they made my food look ridiculously good! I’m not sure what you saw on the screen, but everything was perfectly bright and fresh and plump and the Plaza just smelled like a good, down home cook out!

This girl can get used to having that kind of help all the time. Let’s be honest. Grinding it out alone is no joke… as I think about the 150-head baby shower I just cooked for this past weekend.

TS Cauliflower Skewers

But the real, real fun part was just cooking. Simply cooking. Talking up grilling options for the summer was the perfect theme for that platform. Not to mention Carson is the coolest cat you’ll meet and makes work easy. Talk about super laid back, charming and just fun. Outright golden for having a good time. Grilled skewers have never been so pretty and yummy, I swear. And our chicken, well, let’s just say his got a good home-style beat down. But I guarantee it was tender and juicy!

Carson and me Hi5

The whole morning was enigmatic. The ebb and flow of energy was minimal which is great, but my heart was pounding every second. I think. The sheer excitement took over. Why even pretend. Everything happened so fast I don’t even remember the online segment being longer than 5 minutes. I hear it was more like 18. I’ve not seen that yet. But I blinked and it was done.

Yes, I’m blessed to do this for a living and go on TV here and there to cook it up, but there’s something wildly different and special about the Today show. I don’t know… maybe I’m biased because I love the show to the point I’ve been ultra late to work (back in my corporate days) because I couldn’t miss a performance; or a “Today Throws a Wedding!” (remember those!) and I couldn’t believe I was actually there as a guest.

I stood behind my work station a few seconds before we went live online and stared up, watching the American flags wave aggressively. The morning wind was pretty fierce. I was really at Rock Center, standing on the Plaza, getting ready to cook in front of 5 million people.

Oh. wow. I choked up in gratitude for all of 7 seconds before I checked myself and put my game face on. I looked at my parents one last time before I tuned everyone and everything out.

Plaza Crew

And then we cooked! We skewered veggies, fruits, and talked glazes and marinades; we made a mess, splashed citrus mojo all over the grill, grabbed a bowl because for a split moment I forgot my tools were behind me, used our hands to mix a delish relish, laughed, asked and answered questions,  heard Matt tell a crowd guest “Yes, it’s scrumptious, but we can’t serve you any. Sorry!,” and enjoyed Al’s affirmation that it’s quite awesome to rub more than enough garlic on everything.

Yup. I think they liked my food.

Today Show anchors

Life and work go on as usual, but I’m happy to see what hard work and passion can do.

On June 27th I wrote this blog post and 11 days later was invited on. No plan, no strategy, no method, no inside contact, no nada. Just a hard-working girl with big dreams, huge passion and unshakeable faith. And some amazing parents who support me unconditionally.

I mean, isn’t it everyone’s small dream to be on the TODAY show?  I’m so humbled by that brief but big moment.




If you missed the segments, enjoy both the online streaming which was way more casual and gives you a fun behind-the-scenes look with a real time,  interactive angle from Carson’s chest cam and then the broadcast when we hooked up some mojo-infused chicken with mango and jalapeño relish! I hope you enjoy as much as I had fun!

The recipes are on TODAY’s website, but I’ll share a separate post later this week with the my pictures as I cooked everything at home first with the recipes as well.

Until the next one… enjoy some pictures my dream team, AKA Mami and Papi, took during the entire morning.

July 30th was pretty darn awesome. Thanks, NBC and the Today show.

* The quality of the pictures are not so great, so I do apologize. It was mad windy and my dear parents were zooming in as much as they could from their cell phones and iPad… And you already know that creates some serious grain!



Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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Don't forget to check out my debut cookbook!

68 thoughts on “And Then I Cooked Live on the Today Show… With Carson Daly…on the Plaza

  1. Bren – I am SO incredibly happy for you! You put it out there, you have been working stilettos to the grindstone for years and you cooked on the Today Show – major major kudos!!! Can’t wait to see what else is in store for you!!

  2. Awesomesauce!!! So proud of you sis. Keep on truckin! “If you build it, they will come”

  3. You rocked! You were natural. You were AWESOME!
    So glad I was able to watch it live in Thailand. They need to have you on more often! You really belong on TV. And you and Carlson were great together.

  4. Bren,
    So thrilled for you!! You are in your appointed SEASON and God has it especially “seasoned” just for YOU. We just loved how you threw the citrus on the grill. Someone had a good laugh! 🙂 I’m a huge fan of the Today show and remember those Wedding shows..too funny. Again, you’re in your element live it and own it!!

  5. How exciting! It’s one of my dreams to be on the TODAY show and you did it girl. Way to go! Best wishes in all that you do. Bravo!

  6. Aly: Thanks for watching all of this unfold since day 1. Thanks a ton! I can’t wait to see what’s next either. The Today show was definitely a check off my bucket list.

    Rosa: Thanks, lovely!

    Mario: Oh, well look at you! Thanks for tuning it! SO glad you liked it.

    Joi: Hahahaha. I was thinking “Oh, God! I hope I don’t kill the coals!” But it was fun and I need to get rid of it. I wasn’t planning on doing that at all! But hey, Al liked it! Thanks for tuning in.

    Pam: Thanks and thanks!

    Kirsten: Thanks! I was cheesing SO hard my right eye was almost closed! LOL! I mean, really. Crazy. And my shoes! Yes! They were so perfect for that. I wanted to wear these really sassy orange pumps but I had the orange top on and didn’t have another top to wear… so… I had to wear those and they worked out well. I’m writing a blog post on B So Chic! about my casual look.

    Yvette: Thanks! Keep dreaming! It’s hard work, but keep dreaming.

    Jenny: Awww! Thanks for checking it out.

  7. Congratulations once again my friend! It’s been such a pleasure to watch you grow through your determination and perseverance! God is awesome. This is just the beginning!!! Hugs!

  8. Congratulations chica! I’m so happy for you and of course proud of all you’ve accomplished over the years I’ve known you. So glad you were able to make this dream come true! xoxo

  9. Booomshakalaka, awesome sis. Keep up the hard work. Stay strong stay humble. Proud of you

  10. I got goosies when I read your recap. It makes me smile and proud to see how your hard work just brought you to the top where you deserve to be. Love it!

  11. Loved the energy B. It was a fun segment and it looked like you were having fun with it. You and Carson were great on set. You should definitely do another one.

  12. Wow cooking on the Today Show, how exciting is that! I watched the episode on the internet and I must say the food looked yummy! I would have never thought to add okra (because of the slimy texture) or watermelon on kabobs but I think I may try it out. Thanks for sharing your experience and behind the scenes pics with us so we can live vicariously through you! Can’t wait to see what’s next in store for you. Congrats!

  13. Bren’s food is healthy and delicioso! And, I’m not just saying that because I know her! This segment was long overdue. Bren, best wishes and blessings for your continued success!

  14. B, you are absolutely incredible! This is your season…and I am so proud of you……um, but can a brotha come by for lunch sometime when you’re not jetsetting or showing millions of viewers your culinary skills? :o) lol….smiling…here’s to your life of LIMITLESS possibilities! How do I know? ‘Cuz God said so! 🙂 love you mucho, B!

  15. Your cooking session was awesome !! I tried the kabobs and they were so easy to make and very flavorful. Would make them again !! But what I enjoyed as well was the energy you displayed with Carson Daly. It was great. I hope they invite you again to share some of your awesome dishes !! Great Job !!

  16. Lady do i remember the days of rice and beans and tender juicy well seasoned flank steak at mom and dads house…i SEE u took that to a whole nother level…

  17. So proud of you. I knew this moment would come. You seized it like pro and I know you’ll do the same in the exciting moments to come. Best of luck in the future. I’ll be watching!!

  18. So proud of you. I knew this moment would come. You seized it like a pro and I know you’ll do the same in the exciting moments to come. Best of luck in the future. I’ll be watching!!

  19. Bren, You were so great!! Congratulations! Fantastic segment, and I am going to need that salsa recipe. So proud of you! I told everyone, my fabulous friend Bren was cooking with Carson!!

  20. B! My girlie-girl! Watching you do your thing on the Today Show was so inspiring! You are awesome & I’m sure I’ll see one day soon on other food T.V. Shows! May God bless you in all your endeavors!! Love ya guurrrl!

  21. Congrats girly. I tuned in my mom tuned in and so did my gf all while they were at work. It’s safe to say you have two new fans of bren!!! Was getting texts all day from them!

  22. Thank you all my wonderful friends and readers! If this is your first time on Flanboyant Eats, I hope you enjoyed the segments, found some delicious recipes along with some inspiration. Can’t wait to see you back here.

    Sharing is caring. Tell a friend about this post if you liked it.

  23. Oh wait, Dellice, did you just take it way back to childhood?!?! Wow. I love it. I think this is your first time here and the best thing you could have said. I love it. I’m so tickled you all enjoyed watching the Today show. If you know me personally, you already know how ridiculously excited I was. I mean, the TODAY show?! What? Really? Yes. It’s that awesome. Gotta love NBC. Mr. Nash is doing something right over there.

  24. You are so amazing! It made me so happy to see such a great person cooking on the Today Show! Congrats my friend!

  25. Bren, You have the BEST Life! I Loved this story! You and every one in the pictures looked engaged. You look amazing and I am so jealous of the fun you are having. Keep up the awesome work! I am soooo PROUD of you!

  26. WOW!! Bren I had to come on your site and say a few words after I saw the segment a few weeks back. Took me a while but never too late to say how Great you were and just a natural on TV. As someone who has been following your cooking for a few years now, I know how great your cooking and recipes are so this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has followed you. Keep up the great work! Stay motivated! Stay Focused!! Can’t wait to see more of you in the near future. NBC and Carson need to have you on weekly to help keep those ratings up 🙂
    God Bless you Bren!

  27. Hey Bren,

    Super proud of you! I knew you could do it. Looking forward to the next (of many) future appearances!!!!

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