Local cooking show, “Maria’s Portuguese Table”, thrives nationally on PBS

DARTMOUTH – In 2021, Portuguese cookbook author and food blogger Maria Lawton went national on PBS with her show “Maria’s Portuguese Table” – which has now set the stage for an exciting 2022.

“It’s been truly humbling and beyond anything I expected,” Lawton said, while reflecting on 2021.

Best known for her food blog and Azorean Green Bean cookbook “Azorean Cooking: From My Family Table to Yours” – Lawton premiered her cooking series on PBS in 2019.

Cinesta Digital Productions, helmed by Emmy Award-winning cinematographer Dean Camara, the only Portuguese-themed cooking series features Lawton as she shares family recipes. She travels through New England, the West Coast and Sao Miguel, a Portuguese island in the North Atlantic, learning about culture and cuisine.

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In the spring of 2020, she was nominated for a New England Emmy for Outstanding Program-Host/Moderator.

Maria Lawton cooks at an event.

Now available nationwide via PBS and Create TV, Lawton’s eight 30-minute episodes have now aired across the United States.

“I got feedback from Seattle, Colorado, the Midwest, Florida, upstate New York…” she said. “It came from everywhere. I was really thrilled.”

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Lawton said he was often told that people didn’t know about the Azores until they watched his show. “It feels good to know that I introduced this to people.”

According to Lawton, its first-quarter numbers (also called horse-drawn carriage) were higher than most shows that have aired on the network for several seasons.

Maria Lawton, center, with Cineasta Digital Productions and About Something Productions, Inc in Sao Miguel, Azores.

Maria Lawton, center, with Cineasta Digital Productions and About Something Productions, Inc in Sao Miguel, Azores.

She is currently working on a 10-episode second season, which she hopes to start filming in the spring. She says she wants to present more Portuguese festivals and return to the Azores.

Traveling with Maria Lawton

Lawton was born in São Miguel. She and her family moved to South New Bedford when she was 6 years old. She now resides in Dartmouth with her family.

In October, Lawton took 30 people to Sao Miguel as part of the PBS Travel Club. In 2019, she was approached by the station to be a tour guide after being personally approached by fans.

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“There were people calling the station saying, ‘We’d love to travel with her,'” she said with a laugh. Unfortunately, the trip has been postponed due to COVID-19.

However, Lawton was eventually able to arrange the trip. Traveling with a majority of couples and single guests between the ages of 30 and 80, Lawton said the trip was aimed at introducing people to the island for the first time.

Maria Lawton, right, with members of her tour group in Sao Miguel.  Lawton is a tour guide at the PBS Travel Club.

Maria Lawton, right, with members of her tour group in Sao Miguel. Lawton is a tour guide at the PBS Travel Club.

“Apart from two people who had been there before, when they were younger, not everyone had been there,” she said, “and only four people were Portuguese.”

She said they mostly visit her favorite restaurants, especially trying wines and other foods that rarely make it to US markets.

“We literally ate and drank from one side of the island to the other,” she said.

Lawton said one of her favorite experiences was taking the group to a farm where she filmed an episode of her show. Guests rode a cart up a mountain to a field of cows and helped bring them down for milking. “We were farmhands for a little while,” she added.

Lawton has another tour scheduled for April 2022.

Ignore negative reviews

Prior to airing her show on PBS, Lawton said she was constantly rejected by friends and potential sponsors. One of the reasons, she said, was that she was not a man.

Lawton was told she was not a trained chef and that a “male Portuguese cook” should host a show on PBS.

On the set in Maria Lawton's kitchen.  Lawton is the host of the television series, “Maria’s Portuguese Table”  on PBS.

On the set in Maria Lawton’s kitchen. Lawton is the host of the television series “Maria’s Portuguese Table” on PBS.

Now, she says, even with the success of her show, she still faces criticism. “There are still those who say, ‘Yeah, you did that. But what are you going to do now? “”, Did she say.

Although she said she receives much more positive feedback, there are sometimes mean comments about the way she speaks and her physical appearance.

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“There will always be those pancakes that can never be rounded off,” Lawton said. “It can never be everything for everyone.”

She said she doesn’t listen to those comments and never bases her decisions on those kinds of comments. “You’ll never make everyone happy…and I’m not going to try,” she added.

“You’re fine, and you’re moving on.”

A 10-year project

Asked about her goals for 2022, Lawton is already thinking until 2032.

Lawton said she’s finished her second cookbook and is making final edits, but hopes to publish several more over the next few years.

Maria Lawton cooks and shoots in Sao Miguel at the Terra Nostra Hotel Kitchen.

Maria Lawton cooks and shoots in Sao Miguel at the Terra Nostra Hotel Kitchen.

She is optimistic that her cooking show will last for many seasons as well.

“As long as I’m having fun and finding joy in what I’m doing, I’ll keep doing it,” she said. human beings, we can reinvent ourselves as often as we want.

“That’s what I do and that’s what I find great joy in.”

Standard-Times editor Seth Chitwood can be reached at shitwood@st.com. Follow him on Twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.

This article originally appeared on Standard-Times: Dartmouth cook Maria Lawton prepares for second season of PBS show