A promo shot of Heather Thomson. / Remembrance Staber
You may have taken one of Rinny Ryan’s pottery workshops at the Marco Island Center for the Arts, or bought a piece of her pottery in the center’s gift shop.
Or perhaps you’ve met her at Naples’ Cambier Park selling her pottery.
Now you can add “makes television debut” onto her list of accomplishments — on the Food Network.
To do this story justice, I must go back a few years to when Ryan was a young mother raising her daughter Remembrance.
Ryan’s daughter was best friends with Nita Fuller and Heather Thomson. The mothers — Ryan, Nancy Fuller and Emily Thomson — became friends as well. Both Nancy and Emily worked in restaurants, in fact right across the street from one another, and both loved Ryan’s pottery.
Time passed, and as is often the case with busy people, the mothers lost touch with one another.
Over the years, Ryan kept track of her friends’ activities through her daughter. One day, while selling her pottery at Cambier Park, Ryan heard someone calling her name.
“It was like the years melted away. Nancy had not seen me in more than 20 years but still recognized me. Of course, my trademark bandanna and overalls may have given me away,” Ryan joked. Fuller was now the host of the Food Network’s television series called “Farmhouse Rules.”
After reminiscing for a while, the old friends came up with an idea for a food show that made use of both their talents. Fuller would create some spectacular desserts, serving them on Ryan’s pottery, while Ryan would demonstrate throwing that pottery before a live audience.
Fuller pitched the idea to her producer; the next thing Ryan knew she was being whisked up to Fuller’s 100-acre farm in New York, along with her wheel and pots, to shoot an episode of “Farmhouse Rules” called “The Bake Fest.”
The setting for the episode was a cornfield, a la “Field of Dreams.” A large country cupboard and table covered in pottery plus Ryan’s wheel were the props. Fuller exits from a farmhouse and serves cupcakes and juice (a combination of pressed strawberries, apple juice and vodka) out of stoneware jug growlers, also thrown by Ryan, to a group of women sitting nearby. The scene is idyllic, with just the right appeal to Food Network fans.
All three daughters are there, including Heather Thomson, now the highly successful shapewear magnate of “Yummie Tummie” fame, not to mention one of the “Housewives of New York,” a Bravo reality television series. When Thomson heard about the filming, she not only wanted in on the fun but offered the use of her Berkshires weekend home to the Ryan family.
“Heather is so generous … she rocks at the hostess role,” Ryan said.
Ryan, a down to earth, unpretentious woman, is still on cloud nine. She doesn’t have a television, but makes a point of watching both “Farmhouse Rules” and “Housewives” at her daughter’s house whenever she can.
“After all, Nita and Heather are my daughter’s best friends, and now that our daughters have gotten us all back together again, we plan on having a little reunion later this year,” Ryan said.
The “Bake Fest” is due to air on the Food Network channel sometime in September. Be sure to watch.