For Molly Yeh, her family history is mixed with food.
Yeh, whose Food Network series “Girl Meets Farm” is now in its sixth season, and her cookbook and blog have won awards, exploring her family history as she talks to her relatives about recipes.
“There’s positivity that can come out of sharing your story, your heritage and your culture and also embracing others and learning about other cultures and other family histories,” Yeh said during a media interview. “It just makes the world a happier, more delicious and exciting place when you can recognize differences and celebrate those differences.”
Yeh will be one of the keynote speakers at RootsTech 2002, FamilySearch announced in a blog post on Wednesday, Feb. 2. The March 3-5 global family history celebration is being held entirely online for the second consecutive year and is free to the public.
Yeh’s roots include Chinese on her father’s side, and her mother’s side has Ashkenazi Jewish heritage from Hungary and Spain. Her husband’s family has Norwegian roots on his father’s side and French and English on his mother’s side. Her husband, Nick, is a fifth-generation sugar beet farmer, and they live on the family’s farm on the North Dakota-Minnesota border. They are the parents of daughter Bernie and are expecting a second child.
Knowing her family’s heritage inspires her work with her show and also family celebrations and the food she makes for her family outside of the show.
“It is my source for traditions, for recipes, for stories and the values that I want to instill in my daughter now,” Yeh said. “So this is … my North Star for how I go about raising a family — and a lot of that includes cooking for my family.”
She’s “asking Nick and his great-aunts and all of his family members for photos of little notecards with a scribbled recipe from their ancestors and then re-creating them.” Then it becomes more than the food as she makes the recipes with her young daughter. When she makes the food for family, she also learns about the history, traditions, people and stories around those recipes.
“So I find that it starts with the food, and then the stories just grow out of those activities,” Yeh said.
She’s seen that happen as she’s re-created her mother’s recipes and also ones from her father’s childhood.
“I’ve talked to my dad a lot about recipes that his mom made for him and growing up. And this is sort of a new development for me, just because growing up, my mom did the majority of the cooking. So I didn’t really get exposed to a lot of my grandma’s — my dad’s side — recipes, so like there are a lot of recipes that I’ve just uncovered recently,” she said.
She said that anytime she’s asked a relative to share a recipe, no matter how close she is to them, they have been excited to share it.
“And then that I have received recipe cards that are like, ‘add just enough flour until it looks right,’” she said with a laugh. So, she’s calling the relative back and “having them talk me through it, which has been valuable and helpful.”
And she never expects the recipes to come out perfectly on the first try, she said.
Yeh figured out her interest in food while studying percussion at Juilliard in New York City. She had been keeping a journal in little notebooks since she was 7 or 8 years old. As she got older, those turned into bigger scrapbooks and then, while in New York, she started a blog, mynameisyeh.com.
“That helped me find my passion for food because I realized that all I wanted to journal about was food,” she said of her blog. “And that snowballed into a career in food.”
Her part-memoir, part-cookbook “Molly on the Range: Recipes and Stories From an Unlikely Life on a Farm” was the winner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals Judge’s Award and was also selected by NPR as one of its “Great Reads of 2016.”
For Family Discovery Day, targeted at members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, will be the featured keynote speakers.
Register for RootsTech 2022 at rootstech.org.