Lynette Hammond has spent years watching others share cooking tips and recipes on YouTube. But now, thanks to bit of encouragement from her family, the 62-year-old grandmother of seven is making a name for herself on the video-sharing platform.
In October, Hammond, who lives in Bossier City, Louisiana, posted her first cooking video to Lynn's Kitchen, a YouTube channel started after her children, grandchildren and husband repeatedly found her watching cooking videos online and told her she had both the skills and personality to be on the other side of the camera.
Hammond's family was right: The first video posted to Lynn's Kitchen, a tutorial for making Salisbury steak, cabbage and mashed potatoes with gravy, has been viewed more than 6,000 times.
Since then, Hammond has posted more videos for delicious Southern recipes like fried barbecue pork ribs and Louisiana red beans and rice — all with the hashtag #PrayCookRepeat, which Hammond said has become her motto during her 62 years.
"Pray, cook and repeat. That’s what I do in my life," Hammond told TODAY Food. "Prayer is very important to me and I am a Christian. It’s my daily duty and it keeps me going. I hope it's an encouragement for everyone out there."
A mother's legacy
Hammond says she's loved to cook since she was a child, recalling her own mother cooking staying up late to cook holiday meals in their Toledo, Ohio home.
"I was supposed to be in bed, but I would sneak down and sneak around the kitchen," Hammond said. "You could just see her in the kitchen: She’d be humming and making food ... I've always loved watching her cook and I've always loved to eat it. But just seeing the magic that comes from cooking and the love my mom put into it, I fell in love with it even as a little girl."
As Hammond and her seven siblings got older, their mother brought them into her kitchen, teaching them basic cooking skills like peeling potatoes and chopping vegetables. As they grew into teenagers, she taught them more and more of her recipes.
Today, Hammond's mother is 82 and doesn't cook as often due to health issues, but her legacy lives on in her daughter.
“I called her the other day thanking her for being the mom that she was to us," said Hammond. "My kids showed her my YouTube channel — the video with the Salisbury steak and she said, 'Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.'"
A growing love of food
Hammond and her husband, Dwayne, have been married for 42 years and have two children and seven grandchildren. Hammond said, when her children were small, she started making family dinners using the recipes her mother taught her.
"I think my cooking really developed even more when we got our first home," said Hammond. "I could really call it a home and I was so proud of having my own kitchen, so I just got in there and really started doing the things that my mother did."
Hammond's secret to making the perfect meal? She cooks what she's hungry for and tries to only cook from scratch: No boxed ingredients allowed.
"My son will say, 'We don't do instant mashed potatoes in this house,'" Hammond joked.
"I love watching my family eat and hearing them say, 'Mom, this is so good,' and 'Honey, this is really good,'" she added. "I love inviting relatives to my home and doing what my mom did — it’s just my element. I love cooking and I love sharing my cooking."
In 1999, Hammond suffered a debilitating stroke.
"She had to re-learn how to walk and talk and she was in a wheelchair for almost a year," her husband, Dwayne, who films all of her YouTube videos, told TODAY. "To see her going from there to where she is now — she had to learn to drive, cook, all these things all over again. But from the time she had the stroke, if you look at her now in her videos, you’d never know where she's come from."
As she recovered from her stroke, Hammond decided to go into ministry, becoming an ordained minister. The 62-year-old has performed marriage ceremonies and worked as a church event planner. Today, she works with women who are recovering from human trafficking and drug abuse and holds church services for nursing home patients.
A family affair
Hammond's 13-year-old granddaughter, Briana Hammond-Morris, said, even as a younger child, she remembers her family's excitement about her grandmother's cooking.
"Everyone is always excited about her food. The smells and the taste are always memorable. I happen to be a very picky eater and I always eat almost everything she makes," Briana, who lives in Dallas, Texas, told TODAY. "And holidays are always more fun when we spend them with her and my grandpa. Granted part of that is the delicious food, but the other part is just the type of people they are."
Briana's mother, Nia Morris, who is Hammond's daughter, said her mother "continually underestimates her amazingness."
Morris is thrilled to see her mom gaining subscribers on her YouTube channel and says her mom has already shared a video cooking one of her favorite meals.
"My favorite thing she cooks is her barbecue wings," Morris told TODAY. "They're addictive, flavorful and fall right off of the bone."
So, what's next for Lynn's Kitchen?
"I love the things I cook," Hammond said. "I've heard some people say, 'I like eating other people’s cooking more than I do mine,' but I love eating my cooking, so I'll be planning and sharing plenty more recipes."
Hammond says her over 3,300 subscribers keep her going in the kitchen just as much as her love of cooking for her family.
"I always thought, 'With so many people cooking, who would be interested in my cooking? What could I add to the mix?' But I guess the numbers will tell you," she said. "I’m very humbled and grateful for all of my viewers. My heart is overwhelmed and I am in love with them. I feel like they’re part of my family now."