Ever since the launch of music icon Patti LaBelle’s famous Sweet Potato Pie, followed by a fan’s viral YouTube review of the delicious treat, people have been craving more from the musician-turned-baker.
“I want to taste Patti live,” James Wright Chanel said in the expletive-laced 2015 video that garnered 20 million views. “You turn into Patti after eating this! Go to Walmart and buy the Patti LaBelle pie.”
LaBelle’s pies went on to sell like hotcakes. Walmart, her exclusive retailer, reported that it has sold approximately 13 of LaBelle’s pies per minute over the past year.
While the country seemed surprised, anyone familiar with the West Philadelphia native has been aware of her culinary skills for years. For decades, LaBelle has satiated the taste buds of her family and famous musicians. Her first cookbook, the New York Times bestseller “LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About,” has sold more than 300,000 copies and was followed by this year’s “Desserts LaBelle: Soulful Sweets to Sing About” (Grand Central Life & Style; $28).
Last year, Walmart released several of the vocalist’s famous cobbers, and this winter Labelle has returned with an encore: “fancy cakes.”
The four new 9-inch cakes are each named after one of her most popular songs: “Somebody Loves You Baby” is three layers of chocolate fudge cake, “New Attitude” is aromatic caramel cake, “When You’ve Been Blessed” is Black Forest cake and “On My Own” boasts half carrot and half red velvet cake.
In the spirit of the holiday season, LaBelle shared some tips for hosting. The chanteuse’s first tip: map out your plate. “Plan how to plate your food for the best-tasting and best-looking meal. Meats can touch starches, vegetables can touch other vegetables and desserts should remain by themselves,” she said.
The home chef’s next tip is keep guests busy while you’re in the midst of meal prep. “Make sure your guests are entertained while you’re working hard in the kitchen,” advised LaBelle. “I always do all of the cooking and I love it. But I put out cards and other games and let my guests pick the music playlist to keep them occupied while I cook. And of course, we have a dance party when a good song comes on!”
Always make your guests wonder. “Consider surprising guests with side dishes they wouldn’t expect to see at a holiday dinner. Orange jello, potato salad and crab soufflé often make an appearance at the LaBelle family holiday dinners,” Miss Patti shared.
Finally, there’s no such thing as too much dessert. “We always do peach cobbler, banana pudding and sweet potato pie,” she said. “This year, we’ll be adding my new fancy cakes to the menu.”
To view a conversation between LaBelle and her longtime friend and music industry insider Dyana Williams about LaBelle’s cooking, musical background and connections to Philadelphia, visit https://youtu.be/0ecRXWOiAfc.