She’s defining what it means to be a modern Southern woman.

Whether she’s mixing up biscuits in the Southern Living Test Kitchen or playing with piglets on an Alabama farm, Ivy Odom isn't afraid to get her hands dirty. Born and raised in Moultrie, Georgia, Ivy is defining what it means to be a modern Southern woman. (Hint: Antique china is always a winner, but paper plates work just fine for porch parties). Here, she talks about growing up in the South and what to expect when you tune in to her new show with Southern Living, Hey Y’all. Catch the season premiere on Friday, October 26 at 1:30 pm EST here. You don’t want to miss it!

Favorite memory from childhood?

My family had a beach house on St. George Island, Florida. We went for two weeks every summer and almost every weekend during the off season to clean or do repairs. At the time, it wasn’t my favorite thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the beach itself, but the beach house repairs were never fun for an only child, and the quick weekend trips seemed more tedious than fun. Looking back though, I miss that beach house so much. I grew up on that island, and I so wish the house was still ours today.

Where did you go to college and what did you study?

I graduated from The University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) College of Family and Consumer Sciences in 2015 with a double major in Consumer Journalism (foods emphasis) and Spanish.

Where did you go to culinary school? What was that experience like?

I graduated first in my class from L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland in 2016. Moving over 700 miles away from home was an experience in and of itself, the rigor of culinary school aside. It was mentally and physically the hardest year of my life, but I am stronger for it. I learned so much in that year, about food and about myself. I made lifelong friends and memories that I wouldn’t trade for the world. For anyone wanting to go to culinary school, I’d say this: It’s not for the faint of heart. But, if you do it, it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have.

What is your dream job and when did you know that is what you wanted to do?

Not many people can say they got their dream job right out of college, but I pretty much did. When I was very little, I remember reading Southern Living and thinking that I wanted to be a part of it one day. I didn’t really know what that would look like, and for a while I doubted that there was an actual career out there that fit EXACTLY what my younger self wanted to do. I fell in love with family and consumer sciences (home economics) in middle school, and I pursued that path up until my sophomore year in college. When I got an internship assisting Southern Living contributing editor Rebecca Lang at the beginning of my junior year, she proved that this little girl’s dream could be a reality. I think my idea of dream job has evolved some since I started working in the test kitchens a little over 2 years ago. When I started, I never would have thought I’d have a video series, much less did I want one. But now, I’m so glad this is an almost daily part of my job. If I’m dreaming, please no one wake me up.

When did you start reading Southern Living?

I probably opened my first copy of Southern Living before I could even read. It has been on my Mama’s coffee table my entire life, and I’m a proud owner of every single Southern Living Annual Recipes book, which was first published in 1979.

Favorite food?

I get this question a lot. It’s so hard to answer because I love almost everything, with the exception of cantaloupe and cauliflower. I would give you a top 5, but I can’t even narrow it down that far. Top 10, at least for now, and in no particular order: pizza, pimento cheese, okra, roasted bone marrow, fried chicken, lemon curd, hot pepper jelly, all kinds of pasta, oysters, and dark chocolate with sea salt.

Favorite thing to cook?

My favorite meals to cook are the ones where I open up the fridge and start cooking everything in it, without really knowing what I’m making until it goes on the plate. Those always seem to be the most satisfying because they start from a completely blank slate. And when that slate ends up being pasta, I’m not mad about it.

Favorite movie?

It’s a three-way tie between The Proposal, Fried Green Tomatoes, and The Sound of Music.

French toast or French fries?

FRIES.

What do you think is so special about Southern culture?

The thing about the South is it revolves around food and people. We’re deemed hospitable because we exercise warmth and welcome in everything that we do. Our lives are spent around a table or in the kitchen, eating with or serving food to people we love.

Why do you think folks should tune it to Hey Y’all?

Hey Y’all is a glimpse into the real life of the 21st-century Southern woman. While I love a good antique china pattern for a dinner party, I’m also fine to serve off of paper plates on the porch. Hey Y’all captures the classic elegance of the South with the ain’t-got-time-for-that attitude of every Southern woman I’ve ever known. It explores what I love most about the South—its food and its culture. I’m excited for y’all to come on this journey with me, where the road always leads us back home.