WTVC Exclusive: Bikini Lifestyles’ Susan Irby
Not too long ago I was writing for a site called Paper Palate doing cookbook reviews. One month I was assigned two cookbooks from Adams Media’s $7 Meals series. Both were written by Susan Irby. While doing my research I learned that Susan billed herself as “the Bikini Chef.” I’m a guy so of course I was intrigued.
After doing some more research (Susan calls it stalking) I stumbled onto her site and we began communicating via e-mail about the books. That led to Friending each other on Facebook and following each other on Twitter. From time to time we even spoke on the phone. In January of 2010 I was a judge for the Taste Awards and Susan was one of the Red Carpet Ambassadors for the Award Show. Finally we got to meet IRL as the kids call it. She remains to this day one of the best friends I have in this whole celebrity chef world. I don’t even mind that she’s an Alabama fan.
Three years ago Susan began a radio show called Bikini Lifestyles that expanded on her persona as the Bikini Chef. It was a show unlike anything the listeners of LA had ever heard. Three co-hosts and celebrity guests from every field all talking about healthy eating, exercise and fashion. The show would occasionally venture off its set formula to include dalliances into culture like wine, the Oscars or when a certain Wannabe TV Chef was asked on to discuss the history of Mardi Gras in America.
The show was a hit so it should come as no surprise that TV should come knocking. Bikini Lifestyles is now a TV series on PBSTM . BL:TV is like nothing national public television has ever done. The majority of their food related programming has followed the stand-and-stir format pioneered by Julia Child. Perhaps it is time to stir things up a bit. Bikini Lifestyles is more of a lifestyles show, like The Chew, than it is a cooking show.
So just what is Bikini Lifestyles about? Let’s find out.
First tell me about your Quinoa book.
I’m very excited about my Quinoa book. Ever since I started writing it I see Quinoa everywhere. I have over 200 recipes and I invited some of my chef friends to contribute a few recipes like Chef Brendan Collins. I’m excited. You can pretty much use Quinoa anywhere you use rice. It’s going to be a great book that will appeal to a lot of people, I belive.
When does it come out?
And it’s called the Alabama Fan’s Guide to Quinoa right?
[LAUGHS] Nooo… It’s called the The Complete Idiot’s Guide Quinoa Cookbook. It’s got pretty much everything you need to know about Quinoa.
How did Bikini Lifestyles come to be?
As long as I have been the Bikini Chef people have been saying, “You should be on TV.” You know how that goes, Stuart. Well just out of the blue last year I got a phone call from this production company out of New York and they said they wanted to do a pilot. And I was like, “Oh yeah right.” Delete. Delete. Delete the message. They kept calling back so finally I decided to take the call.
And so, we went to New York and shot the pilot. They sent the pilot out and they got a lot of interest. And now Bikini Lifestyles is the only food and fitness show on the air, at least that I know of.
What can viewers expect to see on Bikini Lifestyles?
It’s wine, dining and work out. We have a little bit of wine, we have food, we have a little bit of fitness. In one episode we’re doing Pilates, one we’re playing tennis and in one we’re boxing but we wind up each show with fashion to prove we can clean up well. You just get the whole flavor. We’re living an everything in moderation lifestyle.
Tell me a little about your co-hosts.
We’ve been doing the radio show for almost three years and we just really work well together. Let’s start with Denice (Fladeboe) she’s the voice of reason. She’s very elegant, she’s a world traveler and she runs her family automotive business and they’ve had that business for over 50 years.
Then we have Steve. Steve (Valentine) is the complete opposite. Steve’s a scene-stealer. He brings a lot of um… um… I don’t know what the right word would be. I don’t want to say chaos but sometimes it feels like that.
When was the official premiere of the show?
The show’s premiere was April 15. So far we have had more than 50% of the PBSTM affiliates express interest.
Did you do anything special like throw a viewing party?
Actually we threw a launch party on the last day of shooting and while we had our film crew there we wanted to film our launch party. So they filmed it and we did a live broadcast of the radio show from it with Chef Brendan Collins who’s one of the chefs on the show. We had a pink carpet so everybody got to walk the pink carpet.
So what’s next for the Bikini Chef?
Season 2. You can rest assured that wine, dining and working out will be on the agenda.
Check local listings for schedule in your area. Also available on independent cable networks.