August 30, 2023

Local Cook Gains National Exposure with PBS Show “Maria’s Portuguese Table”

SWANSEA, MA – The entire staff at BayCoast Bank (baycoast.bank), a long-time community savings bank serving the people and businesses on the South Coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, is thrilled to learn that locally celebrated cook Maria Lawton is making her national debut with season two of her Rhode Island Public Broadcasting Service (RI PBS) show “Maria’s Portuguese Table.”  The program will air on 168 PBS stations nationwide, including WGBH-TV in Boston.

The journey for Lawton, known professionally as The Azorean Green Bean, from home cook to national personality has not been without its challenges. Born on the Portuguese island of São Miguel, Lawton and her family emigrated to New Bedford, Massachusetts when she was six years old. As members of her family passed, she experienced a growing desire to maintain family traditions, including the many recipes she remembered from childhood. That desire became reality with the publication of “Azorean Cooking: From My Table to Yours.”

The cookbook, featuring traditional Portuguese recipes – some with Lawton’s personal twists – became a top seller with online retailer Amazon. That’s how the concept of a television show was born. A cooking show that focused on Portuguese cuisine and culture was an easy sell to Rhode Island PBS; Lawton was given the green light from the station, with the caveat that she produce the show.

It took four years before “Maria’s Portuguese Table” finally debuted on RI PBS due to the challenge of raising funds to produce it – four years of facing rejection until she knocked on the door of Nicholas M. Christ, President and CEO of BayCoast Bank. “I was able to set up a meeting with him through a friend,” said Lawton, recalling how when she told Christ how much funding was needed to complete the show and finally get it on the air, he said, “Say no more….done.”

BayCoast Bank has been a proud sponsor of “Maria’s Portuguese Table” ever since that first fateful meeting, helping to fund seasons one and now season two of the Portuguese cooking program. Lawton says she is hopeful for a third season and is grateful for her success.“ It’s definitely been a blessing to see all the new (PBS) stations that have picked up the show,” said Lawton, noting that 168 stations put it on their schedules once it became available, and additional stations throughout the country are expected to follow suit.

“From Alaska, Hawaii, California, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Puerto Rico, and so many others, it blows me away every time I see all the stations,” she said. “I was also so excited to see that WGBH-TV in Boston picked it up quickly this time too, since alongside Los Angeles and Chicago, Boston is one of the top three PBS stations in the country.”

“I’ve also been receiving wonderful notes and messages from people who have watched or are watching (season two) now; it’s truly humbling,” said Lawton, adding that she particularly enjoys hearing from people in Hawaii. “They are so proud of their Portuguese ancestry and just love the series.”

Lawton expressed special gratitude to BayCoast Bank, thanking Nicholas M. Christ and the entire BayCoast family “for all the support and love.”

“With her cooking skills, personality, and determination to share her family recipes with others, the popularity of “Maria’s Portuguese Table” was never a question,” said Christ. “The BayCoast family is delighted over Maria’s success and pleased to know we have contributed to it.”

Seasons one and two of “Maria’s Portuguese Table” are now available online on RI PBS.

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