'Today's' New Natalie Morales Video Series Designed to Highlight Her Home Life, Passion for Food
NBC News producers reveal their goals for new digital content starring the morning show co-hosts.
Natalie Morales may be known to Today viewers for delivering the news during the NBC morning show's first two hours and co-hosting its third hour.
But off camera, the Today co-host loves to cook, and NBC News producers hope that with their new Morales-fronted video series, "At Home With Natalie," viewers can get more of a sense of who she is.
"Along the way, you'll get some insights into Natalie as a person and her family and how that intersects with her culinary interests," NBC News Digital's director of original production Bill Smee says of the series, which launches Wednesday with Morales making ropa vieja, a traditional Latin dish that she learned how to cook from her grandmother. In keeping with the "At Home" title, the video was shot in her Hoboken, N.J., residence.
"She has a real passion for food that I think will come through in the series," Smee adds. "The combination of that and being the mom of two growing boys we felt was a very potent opportunity."
While Morales' sons aren't in the first video (she joked that they don't particularly like ropa vieja), it's possible that they'll make an appearance in a subsequent clip.
Smee and his team hope to run two videos from Morales' series a month, planning to shoot two more next week, with her picking and then fixing a dish that has some sort of familial or cultural significance to her, while she talks about her connection to the food, just as she does in the first video.
These videos are being created for and will live online, specifically on Today's food vertical, which the morning show launched on Wednesday. But, as Today is doing Wednesday with Natalie's ropa vieja video, excerpts of the clips will also air on the morning show, with viewers directed to go online for the full video and more information.
Today producers hope that the food vertical will be their viewers' primary source for practical cooking and entertaining tips.
"Our goal is to have our audience come to us first when they think about picking recipes, choosing themes for parties, can they make a dish that's a little more complicated," Today senior producer Debbie Kosofsky says. And as they incorporate the morning show's talent into the food platform, Kosofsky says she hopes the co-hosts' endorsements give viewers the extra confidence they need.
"I think for the viewer, like anything else, when [the co-hosts] believe in it and it comes from the heart, you're more apt to want to try something," Kosofsky says. "When the viewer sees that our talent can do it … and they say it tastes delicious, that goes a long way to home cooks."
And Morales, Smee says, is a fitting pitch woman for the sort of practical but fun advice Today aims to provide.
"She's really excited, loves to cook but also has that really pragmatic streak in the kitchen, which is really born out of necessity because she's a very, very busy person," he explains.