Taylor Hicks will be touting the cuisine and culture of North Dakota in the latest episode of the television show "State Plate" when it is shown at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, on INSP.
Hicks is best known as the winner of season five of "American Idol." Since then Hicks said he has been touring to support his music career, but he is also in his second season hosting "State Plate."
In each episode, Hicks and his support crew create a plate of food that represents each state's iconic foods. Hicks said he couldn't disclose what foods were used to create North Dakota's State Plate.
"Let's just say I was 'buzzing' around the state," he said.
Hicks said he hadn't been to North Dakota before he visited Buchanan, Wishek, Devils Lake and Baldwin last summer to record the episode. The show also filmed at Berry Dakota, located on the farm of Kay Eagleson about 10 miles north of Jamestown on North Dakota Highway 20.
He also got up close and personal with a few thousand bees at Danzig Honey Company in Wishek. Erik Dohn, who runs Danzig Honey Company along with his father, said Hicks visited the beekeeping operation and honey producing company in August. Dohn said they went through the process of making honey.
"We went to a bee yard and pulled some honey," he said. "We brought it back to the honey processing plant and extracted some honey."
Dohn said Hicks was a little nervous when they were out in the bee yard, but Hicks and his crew were in protective bee suits.
"You go from every now and then having one or two (bees) flying around to having 40,000 to 50,000 flying around you," Dohn said. "It can be a little overwhelming. He handled it really well."
Eagleson said she had a great time with Hicks and his crew when they visited her in mid-August. She said they made a chokecherry sauce that will be used on the North Dakota plate.
Hicks liked the sauce, Eagleson said, but couldn't hide the sour taste a natural chokecherry makes when he sampled a few.
"He made quite the face in tasting them," she said.
Hicks said he enjoyed learning about North Dakota food.
"It was a real treat to go to North Dakota and travel and meet the people and just sink my teeth in the foods that make up that state," he said.
Growing up in Alabama, Hicks said he thought North Dakota had more mountains than he found when he visited.
"I was surprised it wasn't as mountainous," he said. "But the rolling terrain and the food were great."
Hicks said the goal of "State Plate" is to visit all 50 states before the show is over. The show will have visited 36 states by the end of its second season.
"We're almost to the goal," he said. "We haven't been to Hawaii yet, but we hope we'll get there."
There is good food everywhere in the United States, Hicks said.
"Each state has its famous food," he said. "It's very common for us to put that famous food on each state's plate, but we also like to add a little local flavor to the plate."
Hicks co-owns a barbecue restaurant in Birmingham, Ala., called Saw's BBQ. He said eating barbecue is a way of life in Alabama.
Being the winner of season five of "American Idol" had a big impact on his life, Hicks said. He toured the nation and internationally after winning. He said he used his touring experience to make traveling for "State Plate" a good experience.
"I have always toured, but this is the best of both worlds, food and culture," he said.