Bobbi Jo Lathan began her acting career in the Broadway production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. She went on to play the lead role of the Madam in the Las Vegas production as well as in several touring companies. “On our day off, I’d pick up the phone and tell a few folks I was cookin’,” she explains. “And by 8 p.m., I’d have 30 hungry actors over for supper!”
Bobbi Jo went on to play lead roles in other Broadway shows in addition to roles in numerous regional theater productions. A few years after her Broadway debut, Bobbi Jo was flown to Los Angeles to shoot a television pilot. While the pilot wasn’t picked up, she decided to stay in L.A. and quickly landed guest-starring roles on television shows such as Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show and Beverly Hills 90210, to name a few.
Never straying far from her country roots, she came up with the idea to integrate her love of cooking with her acting, and wrote her own one-woman food musical entitled, Cookin’ With A Right Smart Of Love. “It’s a hoot!,” says Bobbi Jo. “The audience is totally integrated into the action of the show. I bring audience members right onstage with me and we bake a blueberry cobbler together, cream corn, gig frogs, grunt worms and even call a turkey! Audiences love it!” she says. “It turned out that so many people requested the recipes that we cooked on stage, I decided to write The Skillet Diva Cookbook.”
While she was still working to get her musical off the ground, the culinary director for Williams-Sonoma in Beverly Hills got a hold of The Skillet Diva Cookbook and loved it. She quickly asked Bobbi Jo if she’d be interested in teaching a series of Southern cooking classes using some of the recipes from her book. Bobbi Jo answered “Heck yeah! That’d be fun!” After the first class, the word got around and her cooking classes sold-out. Her ability to instruct and to interact with the students in an engaging and entertaining way made her classes the most popular on the circuit. “I was lovingly referred to as their Beverly Hillbilly of food,” laughs Bobbi Jo. This interesting detour led to Bobbi Jo giving classes involving a great variety of cuisines in various Williams-Sonoma venues, Gelson’s Cooking Connection, and the Let’s Get Cooking school.
A producer attending one of Bobbi Jo’s cooking classes called Bobbi Jo a few days later asking if she’d like to appear as a “guest chef” on several episodes of E! Network’s popular, You’re Invited! series. These appearances led, the following Christmas season, to Borders Books in Los Angeles presenting Bobbi Jo’s Holiday Buttermilk Pie and Brownies Book Signing Event.