CNN: Is there still a potential book on the horizon?
Brown: You know, I realized that I didn't love the book-writing process. I like doing things and going to camera right away to talk about something. I've gained a tremendous respect for writers, because it's tough, and I didn't want to hire a ghostwriter. What we've done is channel it into a website, which became a better place for me to share my experiences. Hopefully, people can learn from them, laugh from them and get to know me better. A book isn't completely out of the question, but not right now.
CNN: A lot of shows are being greenlit on Travel Channel that have little to do with travel or, as you joke, are "men eating shows." Why do you think this is?
Brown: Travel television really has changed. While I love the idea of doing another "Passport to Europe," when shows like "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" do well, it becomes obvious what the viewer is demanding. It's not great ideas about what to do in Europe. You could pick on Travel Channel, but they're a business, and they have to produce shows that people watch.
I think they've done a great job in the new crop of shows. I think "Hotel Impossible" is a great show, and Anthony Melchiorri is a fantastic host. He's an absolute expert in what he's talking about. I would love to redo "Passport to Europe" because things have changed and my perspective has changed, but it might not be on Travel Channel.
CNN: What would Samantha's "Ultimate Eating Show" look like?
Brown: The ultimate eating show that I would love to do would be to go to the strip malls across America. I read this great article about how there is this amazing cultural minority population, and the first thing they do when they start to have their own success is to move out of the urban centers and into the suburbs. That is the American dream, to have a house. Then they open up their restaurants in strip malls.
You could have the most amazing Egyptian food next to a Radio Shack. I've been to places with the best hummus in Pennsylvania and Vietnamese in Maryland. It would combine my love for that cultural sense combined with the American dream and, of course, food. When you have good food, you've made it in the ratings!
CNN: What do you think about Anthony Bourdain coming to CNN?
Brown: I think it's great. I like him a lot and think his travel shows are fantastic. With CNN, they're going to allow him to go anywhere he wants. He has a huge fan base, and we want to see him in the most crazy, wonderful, exotic destinations.
CNN: Who are some women in the business of travel or food whom you admire?
Brown: I love Gail Simmons. She's been able to create a business around being herself and she's smart. Of course, I love comediennes like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph. I also love women like Katie Couric, someone who has done so well but has been heavily criticized. But she still gets up, works hard and is such a huge success.
CNN: Who is someone you would love to interview on your show?
Brown: Chef José Andrés. He has that effervescent personality and has had such a positive influence on food, keeping his sense of discovery. My husband and I have always watched his cooking shows. I've met him, and he's exactly what you see on camera. He has a wonderful attitude.
CNN: You are a classic American success story. You were a waitress in New York before you got your first show. What is your advice for young people in their early 20s trying to figure it all out?
Brown: Hang in there. Keep at it. I had a very nice, very expensive education, and I still waited on tables for eight years. I had times where I thought, 'Why didn't I have a safer major, one where I could get a job paying me 75K straight out of school?' I had my attitude in my early 20s that if it wasn't happening easily, maybe I don't deserve it. That's not true at all. You really have to keep at it. I'm still close with a lot of my waiter friends because you get to know each other very well!
CNN: What are some of your most memorable restaurants?
Brown: I love Tommaso's in Brooklyn and then going to see the Christmas lights in Dyker Heights. The man who owns the restaurant (Tommaso Verdillo) and breaks into song went to Juilliard for voice.
There was a place (Leo's) in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, up in the hills. In the morning, you would see the man that owned it jump off a rock to get the fresh catch of the day. One of the things he serves a lot is barnacles, which look like talons but taste as good as lobster. There are plastic tables and no electricity.
He serves you the freshest plate of raw and cooked fish, and it's like $6 a plate. There is also a beautiful hotel there, where my husband and I always want to go back, called La Casa Que Canta or "The House That Sings." It's on the cliffs. You have your own infinity pool. It is unbelievable.
The place where I knew my husband was the guy was Gabrielle Hamilton's place Prune (in New York). We had homemade burrata on bread, and I remember looking at him and thinking, "He's the guy I'm going to marry."