Sonny side up! Clarendon man’s cooking featured on cable showBrent Curtis / Staff Photo
Local bakers Sonny and Janice Young have both become much better known thanks to Sonny’s gig on the Cooking Channel.
Sonny Young is what you’d call old school. The 71-year-old Clarendon man hangs buckets instead of vacuum lines to gather sap; he drives a 1965 Shelby Cobra replica that he built with his son; and he scoffs at anyone who can’t make pancakes from scratch.
It’s those qualities that made him the perfect fit for a Cooking Channel show that focuses on traditional ways to make a good meal.
Young will appear at 1 p.m. today on the show “My Grandmother’s Ravioli” hosted by Mo Rocca who recalls his own grandmother’s signature dish as the premise for a show that finds other grandparents around the country to profile and talk about their unique recipes.
In Young’s case, those recipes include chocolate-chip pancakes, country bread and what he calls “pecan meatballs” — the longtime vegetarian jokes that he calls them meatballs to see how many of his friends he can fool.
“Mo said to me after he had one, ‘Man, who needs meat?’” Young said Friday.
But the energetic and always smiling Young isn’t featured only for his recipes.
During a three-day visit to Young’s home on Sunny Hill Road, Rocca and his production crew followed him and his wife, Janice Young, around on trips into the woods to tap maple trees, on road trips in his sports car, and to Janice’s “Woodstock Cookie” bakery located in Rutland’s Howe Center.
The couple said they had a great time showing off their home, business and eats, but after more than 20 hours of shooting footage over a three-day period, Sonny Young said he was exhausted.
“I came to the conclusion that being an actor is no fun,” he said. “I was bushed. I work in construction and I’m not as tired at the end of the day as I was after that.”
But the long shoots were worth it for the 22-minute segment that aired for the first time last week, they said.
And Rocca, a humorist, journalist and actor who has been involved in a number of television projects, kept both Youngs entertained with his antics.
For example, during the trip into the maple bush near the Young’s home, Rocca drank sap straight from a tree after hammering in a tap.
Later, during a segment inside Janice’s bakery, Rocca re-enacted a famous “I Love Lucy” scene while gathering goodies from a conveyor belt.
How did Rocca and the show’s producers find Young in the first place?
Unbeknownst to him, a longtime friend sent a letter to the Cooking Channel praising Young and his culinary creations.
He didn’t find out about it until a producer called him out of the blue.
“I said ‘OK’ but I had no idea what it was all about,” Young said. “It could have been the underground, I didn’t know.”
While he’s not involved with his wife’s business, Young said he is a well regarded baker himself. He’s probably most famous at Rutland Regional Medical Center, where he does a lot of baking for the marketing department.
“I made them a pumpkin cake last week,” he said.
His appearance on the Cooking Channel promises to propel his notoriety and the family’s bakery to a whole new level.
“On Facebook everyone I know said ‘Wow, I’ve watched that show before but it was nothing compared with having you guys on the show,’” he said.
His wife of 47 years said the profile has also been a boon for her business — increasing daily hits at www.woodstockcookie.com from an average of four a day to 65 a day.
“I just think it’s so great for Vermont to get this kind of exposure,” she said.
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