ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Taylor Hicks has come a long way since winning “American Idol” in 2006.
He’s kept his music career going.
Hicks tastes his way across the country on a quest to assemble plates that represent each state’s most historic, famous and tastiest foods.
He samples crab cakes in Maryland, chili in Texas, potatoes in Idaho, and other delectable dishes as he travels from coast to coast visiting farms, ranches, markets and festivals in order to uncover the stories and legends behind each state’s unique food traditions.
After two seasons of “State Plate,” Hicks will have documented the most popular foods from 36 states in the U.S.
The latest episode, which airs at 5:30 p.m. Monday, brings Hicks to the Land of Enchantment.
Hicks says when many think of New Mexico they imagine the magnificent caves of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, the Native American history at the Pecos National Historical Park or the stunning landscape of Valle Vidal in Carson National Forest.
“But what about the food?” he asks.
Hicks spent a few days in Santa Fe and Albuquerque filming the episode, where he samples local favorites like Hatch chile stew, carne adovada, calabacitas, sopaipillas and piñon nut brittle.
Hicks had a stuffed sopaipilla at The Sopaipilla Factory in Santa Fe, as well as carne adovada from Chimay Chile Bros., green chile stew from The Blue Heron Restaurant at Sunrise Springs Resort and Spa and calabacitas from the Santa Fe School of Cooking.
He also visited Jericho Nursery in Albuquerque where he had piñon brittle.
“It was a good trip,” he says. “There’s a lot of planning that goes into each episode. Our producers are looking for suggestions from viewers about what to highlight. We’re looking for the best and coolest type of food that we can get.”
For the trip to New Mexico, there was one thing Hicks has to eat – green chile.
“Chile is big in the state,” he says. “It’s just amazing how diverse the plate is for New Mexico.”
Hicks and crew turn over an episode every five days, which means there wasn’t a lot of time for sightseeing.
“We like to cover a whole lotta the state,” he says. “It’s a lot of work but being able to tell these stories and give some perspective to a wider audience is fun.”
“State Plate” recently got the green light for a third season and Hicks is looking forward to hitting the goal of all 50 states.
“I get to try everything and my palate is overextending,” he says with a laugh. “This show is my life and the food is what fuels me.”