How Al Roker's Thanksgiving Traditions Have Changed Over The Years - Exclusive

Many people often correlate an intimate relationship between food and family, and television personality Al Roker is no exception. "I think food is one of those [things where], your mom or dad, or whoever cooked in your house, that was the way they, in a sense, showed love and nurturing," Roker told Mashed in an exclusive interview. "So, anything my mom made was special to me. My dad was a great breakfast short-order cook. And I always remember him either doing pancakes or baking bread, or making grits and eggs. [The] best memories as a kid, I think for a lot of us, revolve around family meals, whether it was breakfast, whether it was dinner or Sunday dinner, or a picnic lunch that your parents put together for a day at the beach. I think those always evoke great memories."

These formative memories no doubt helped shape Roker and have led him down a road where he now shares his fondness for cooking and food with the world. According to Today, Roker has started a new podcast, titled "Cooking Up a Storm," that offers fresh takes on Thanksgiving classic recipes. Each episode focuses on a dish brought in by a well-regarded chef who acts as a special guest alongside a discussion about the item and the holiday in general. Just like the recipes featured can change up classic menu items, Roker also recently shared how his Thanksgivings have evolved over the years.

Family has always been at the heart of Al Roker's Thanksgiving celebrations

"I think each [Thanksgiving] is different, and you're in a different place," Roker told Mashed in a recent interview. "Ten years ago, my kids were smaller and they were all around, they were all here at home. Now, I've got a married daughter and another daughter who lives in Paris. And so, they're going to be off on their own. My son is getting ready for college. He'll be home. But it's just really the three of us. And my parents have since left us. So, it used to be a much bigger affair. We'd have 18, 20, sometimes two dozen people."

Back in the day, you also couldn't keep Roker away from the cooking action. "I would prep most everything the night before," he continued. "And then of course, on Thanksgiving morning, I have to go do the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC [and] I had to do 'The Today Show' before that. I'm on the air for five hours. So my wife, Deborah Roberts, who's an ABC News correspondent and anchor, had a schedule when to put everything in. And then I'd get home, and we'd whip up some other stuff and then get the table all ready. People would come over and then it was time to clean up. And boy, by the end of the day, you were pretty whipped. Now I will admit, we go out to dinner. It's a lot easier, but just as meaningful."

For more of Al Roker's Thanksgiving musings, make sure to check out his podcast "Cooking Up a Storm," and tune into watch his Thanksgiving Marathon on TODAY All Day.