Mary McCartney Dishes About Cooking With Her Famous Father and Her New Series

Mary McCartney cooking show

Four new episodes of Mary McCartney Serves It Up airs on Nov. 23.

Mary McCartney hasn’t eaten meat in a very long time. Not since she was a child, when her father, legendary musician Paul McCartney, and her mother, photographer and animal activist Linda McCartney, made the decision that the family would become vegetarian. That was in the mid-70s (long before the Impossible Burger), when the only vegetarian option at many restaurants was a plate of “horrible steamed vegetables,” Mary told us in a recent interview. 

But the family was committed to eating well, Mary says, which meant getting creative in the kitchen. Linda was a wonderful cook, who wrote several vegetarian cookbooks and started her own line of frozen meat-free meals. After she died in 1998 of breast cancer, Mary says she “took on the mantle,” experimenting with vegetarian recipes, writing cookbooks of her own, and starring in her own series on Discovery+, Mary McCartney Serves It Up.

She’s joined by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, her father, and sister (fashion designer Stella McCartney) in four new episodes, streaming Nov. 23. In each segment, she prepares simple vegetarian dishes that can be served at holiday cocktail parties or even for Christmas dinner. We spoke to Mary, who dished about what she’ll be serving up.

Katie Couric Media: Can you tell us about your new series, and what you hope viewers take away from it?

Mary McCartney: In each episode I cook four recipes, usually around a theme. This season’s all about entertaining, so one segment is about family-style recipes you can put in the middle of the table, and another is a meal that I cook for my dad — who then makes his wonderful margarita cocktail. 

Overall, the show is about offering meat-free solutions to people who are interested in eating more plant-based food. It’s also about myth-busting. A lot of people think meat-free cooking means lots of ingredients and lots of time. I’m here to sort of help inspire.

You grew up in a vegetarian household. How did that shape your approach to cooking?

I was probably around 7 years old when my mom and dad sat us down and said, “We’ve decided we don’t want to eat meat anymore.” They were eating lamb one day in Scotland, and they looked out the window and saw a very cute lamb jumping around and playing. I think once they made that connection, they found it hard to go back to eating meat. 

We were very much a vegetarian family that didn’t want to feel like we were missing out. Back then, you’d go out to restaurants and there weren’t many options, so you’d be eating some horrible steamed vegetables or another unimaginative dish. I grew up talking about how to fill the gap on the plate. And then watching my mom cooking and how she would flavor things. From there, I kind of took on the mantle and carried on.

Do you cook with your father often? And what would you say is his favorite dish?

We do. He’ll help chop things, and I usually take the lead with the cooking. We all keep each other company in the kitchen.

In the episode with him, we make a celebration meal, which in England is traditionally served on a Sunday with a roast. He loves a classic roast dinner — I was actually with him over the weekend and we ate that. It’s similar to a Thanksgiving meal — you have a protein in the middle and then all the side dishes. I’m not a huge fan of Brussels sprouts, but my dad loves them, so I found a way to prepare them that I really like: I cut them thinly and stir-fry them and serve them with dressing. We made stuffing balls, roast vegetables like parsnips, sweet potatoes, and potatoes. Then I make a plant-protein chicken alternative with a red onion gravy, and my dad will usually make me a little cocktail or play some music.

Can you share some of the meatless dishes you’ll be making on the show?

My sister Stella came on for one episode and I made a seasonal salad that I call a Roasted, Toasted Salad. I roast squash and shallots with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and put them on a bed of leaves with toasted pecans and pumpkin seeds, which adds some crunch. Reese Witherspoon wanted to learn more vegan recipes, so we did a creamy green pasta. And I made some canapés with Oprah Winfrey. I had this idea to make a Bloody Mary dip to go with skewers of focaccia, celery, and olive. It’s so good. 

Do you have any tips for people who are new to vegetarian cooking?

Don’t put yourself under so much pressure: Pick straightforward recipes that don’t have too many ingredients, with flavors that you love. And have some fun with it. 

A lot of dishes you can prepare exactly as you normally would, but just swap ingredients out with a plant protein, which are now widely available and really good.

Do you have a favorite episode in the series?

Oh, I don’t think I can say, because it’d be picking between family! They’re all so different as well. In my dad’s episode, we’re making more of a sit-down meal, and with Oprah we’re preparing for more of a cocktail party. Stella and I have a real laugh together. We give each other a good time in a sisterly kind of way. And whenever Reese and I get to spend any time together, it’s just such fun and we get along so well. 

Ready to start cooking? Check out some of Mary’s incredible vegetarian holiday recipes right here.