Previewing Season Two of Weekends with Yankee | Interview with Executive Producer Laurie Donnelly

By Aimee Tucker

Jan 23 2018

Amy Traverso Richard Wiese-WWY235-1_HR
Photo Credit : Mark Fleming
Amy Traverso and Richard Wiese of Weekends with Yankee.
Amy Traverso and Richard Wiese of Weekends with Yankee.
Photo Credit : Mark Fleming
Yankee magazine is teaming up again with public television producer WGBH to create a second season of Weekends with Yankee, a New England–based travel and lifestyle series. The documentary series will once more take viewers on an insider’s exploration of New England, from city to countryside and far-flung places. Filming will take place in all six New England states; 13 weekly half-hour episodes are slated to premiere nationally on public television stations in April 2018. Emmy-winning TV travel host, explorer, and author Richard Wiese will return to guide viewers through Yankee’s behind-the-scenes access to the unique attractions that define the region and the hidden New England that only locals know. Wiese will again be joined in his travels by Yankee’ssenior food editor, Amy Traverso, who will share the recipes, local flavors, and sense of community that make up the fabric of the region’s food and dining scene, including demonstrations from the Yankee test kitchen. We recently caught up with Laurie Donnelly, senior executive producer of Weekends with Yankee, to chat about the series and the new season.
weekends with yankee
The second season of Weekends with Yankee returns to public television this spring.
Photo Credit : Mark Fleming

What has been the reaction to the first season of Weekends with Yankee, and why do you think audiences have been responding to it?

I think the relatability of the hosts, Richard Wiese and Amy Traverso, really resonated with viewers. And people love New England! It hasn’t been given a lot of national exposure and yet it really is a global destination, so I think people want to kind of follow in Richard and Amy’s footsteps. They’re approachable and excited, and they have a passion for New England that translates across the country.

What are some of the food stories you’re hoping to tell in season two?

People love food, but they forget that Yankee is a publication that started in 1935, making it a gold mine for knowledge of the hidden gems throughout New England. There are a lot of terrific food stories here — for instance, going to Portland, Maine. What a lot of people don’t realize about Portland is that it’s a great incubator for great food. People are not afraid to experiment there; they’re not afraid to go out on the cutting edge. Portland is also a place where you can source great ingredients, and it’s affordable, too. We’re going to be doing a tour of some of Portland’s finest, including the things that you really like to nosh on — everything from great potato donuts at the Holy Donut to the very best french fries cooked in duck fat at Duckfat, to the Japanese restaurant Mami, also out on the cutting edge, that does street food but with local ingredients. Another stop that many people don’t know about is the Lost Kitchen in Freedom, Maine. This little restaurant has taken off like wildfire. Literally, people are making their reservations a year ahead: When the Lost Kitchen first opened up, they got 10,000 calls for the year. It’s a beautiful restaurant in this town of about 700 people, and the chef, Erin French, is doing the best food in America in this tiny little Maine restaurant.

What can you tell us about the new “In the Kitchen” segments with Amy in season two? What’s unique about the Weekends with Yankee approach to food?

What we want to do this season is get inspired by our journeys and then bring them back to the kitchen. So what Amy will be doing is going back to the test kitchen to show people how: If we make you hungry, here’s how you can do something at home that’s inspired by our journey. That’s an exciting new addition. Every food story is unique, and I think it’s about finding the most unique food stories you can. What makes our series different is the way in which we present it, and the people who are doing the presenting, and the people who are telling the stories. The people who are telling the stories are unique individuals. It’s not a cooking show, but it has that wonderful lust we have for great food — but then we also dish up a little cooking at the end.

Where will our New England travel adventures take us in the new season?

Richard Wiese is truly a global explorer. We’re so privileged to have him [as a Weekends with Yankee cohost] because he’s traveled all seven continents, he was the first person to cross-country ski to the North Pole, and he’s participated in the largest medical expedition ever conducted on Mount Everest — and yet he has this passion for New England. So what we’re doing is taking great journeys with him, kind of using that passion that he has around the globe and bringing it back to New England. We’re going to do everything from hot air ballooning in Connecticut to surfing in Rhode Island to mountain biking in Vermont to going out into the sand dunes in Provincetown, Massachusetts. We’re really trying to get as much adventure packed into the season as we can.

Why do you think public television is the perfect home for Weekends with Yankee?

Public television viewers, by nature, are explorers. We also know they’re passionate about food, so we’re trying to bring their favorite things together: great journeys and great food. It’s about how we want to spend our weekends, and I think that when we’re all stressed out and jammed for time, we really want something that helps take us away, whether we can actually go on those trips ourselves or just enjoy them as an armchair traveler. We hope you’ll tune in next spring for season two of Weekends with Yankee! Wondering where to find the show? Use the handy station-finder tool on the series homepage

FOR MORE: Learn More About Weekends with YankeeWeekends with Yankee | Season One Episodes Recipes from Weekends with Yankee