Perfectly Perfect Food Day
Sara’s appearance on “Food 911” will be broadcast on the Food Network, September 21 at 3:00pm ET and September 25 at 7:30am. See you there!
At 8:15 a.m., the lighting guy, John, arrives. We are in the midst of french toast and gathering homework, lunches, the day. John asks, “Am I the first one?” Yep, I say, yep, you are. Come on it. Coffee? No, thanks, he says. He’s holding a cup in his hand. I’m a wee bit excited, the kids are curious, stay at the table, I say. Finish your breakfast, sweetie. Are you part of the show, asks Lily. Lance is washing dishes. Yes, says John. I do the lights.
Kids are being driven off to school. When I get back home, there is a house full of wires, cameras, lights, light stands, monitors, twenty people. Everyone is on a tiny cell phone or their lap top. A low buzz of communication is filling every nook and cranny. Coats are piled high. Trucks full of food, props, dishes, who knows what have invaded our driveway.
Annie and Tim, the director and producer:
Annie is a tall, lovely 28ish (maybe younger?) soft spoken brunette with a slight flip at the end of her thick, shoulder length hair. She has a cream colored
Mohair sweater. It makes me trust her instantly. She looks like a cup of cream. How do people have skin like that? Ooh, it’s pretty.
Tim is wearing a “Wonka Factory” tee shirt. I call him Willy. I tell him he doesn’t look anything like he does in the movie. He is 5′ 5″, my height, glasses, dark curly hair, olive skin. Everyone calls him PIEMAN. Inside joke. We had spoken on the phone, months back. He, too, is very friendly, laid back.
She is the prop stylist. As far as I’m concerned, she has the dream job. She has
her own portable collection of E-Bay. Antique cookwear, fabrics, photographs, tiny toys, plates, teapots, platters, you name it: and she is digging around, looking through all my cabinets, finding things I forgot I had that, suddenly, when she places it in JUST THE RIGHT SPOT, I think, “Hey, that’s cool! I like that thing!”
My kitchen is transformed into a quaint, funky spot. It has a “new” counter top…They create one out of a wood block and imagination.
She is the food prop stylist. My kitchen counter becomes the Garden of Eden.
Everything is suddenly living green stuff. There are mounds of dill, bowls of parsley, chevral, basil…A water bottle appears every thirty seconds: splish, splish..everything is constantly kept wet so as not to dry out under the lights.
There are twenty six thousand different kinds of bread—cocktail breads, rye breads, supper breads, italian and wheat. Baby carrots with their fine spray of
greenery next to strawberries the size of fists and clumps of radishes and
fresh salmon, turkey, wheels of Brie and Camembert; grapes and onions and tons of fresh, uncut garlic…even an uncut stalk of brussel sprouts, the stalk thick as your wrist, buds of sprouts up and down the entire thing.
She is constantly arranging colorful bowls of salt, moving the pepper mill,
placing a array of kitchen implements here, a bowl of thick butter there.
Prepping what Tyler, the chef, will need, just within his reach.
In walks the boy. I say “boy” only because he reminds me of a man that will always be freshly-scrubbed, just in from a night of drinking, happy go lucky,
chooses a red cotton jacket that says “CUBA” over a dinner jacket or
Ivy League vest. He comes in with no fanfare, just part of the clan. There are
twenty people strewn on sofas, prepping food, finding the right camera angle, and Tyler flows through out to the patio, chatting quietly on his cell phone.
He never puts on any tv makeup. In my 16 years of television experience, this is a first. He’s so cool! Just down to earth, doing his job, loving every minute of the
creation. Excited about the food: the smells, the mixtures, the folding of the dough. He wants to get started but is never too eager. Asks after every shot,
“How’d that look? Did it look good? Was the food good looking?” It ‘s as if every
food item is a child he’s determined to celebrate. He really cares about how the food is presented, how it tastes, are we happy? You happy? Did you like it?
Are you having a good time? He asks me over and over. Very nice man.
Well, here it is…the big day of adventure. And I have this sinus infection. I sound
like Bullwinkle. I keep running to the bathroom, blowing my nose, shooting warm salt water up into my swollen membranes. Sometimes this helps. Sometimes my face just gets wet. But, I’m having an EXCELLENT time. No one is bothered by my nose. We are laughing. We are making yummy things to eat. We are prepping for a MAD HATTER tea party!
Suddenly, I think, “WASABI!!!” I ask Kirstie if she has any. She has a powder. We mix it with water. I shove a giant spoonful in my mouth. WHAMMO! My head hits the ceiling, my eyes explode, but YES! My nose is clear. Every ten minutes, I am hitting the wasabi.
It’s time. I’m asked if I have a blue shirt. I find one, and get approval. The girls are in school. I think maybe I should have let them stay home to see all this exciting stuff. I know in my mind I did the right thing, keeping their routine, keeping them out of the tangle of people and cords, but you know…it’s exciting!
I’m worried about my breath. With the sinus infection comes bad breath. I tell Tyler IHAVEBADBREATHIAMSORRYWORKINGONTHIS pop in a breath mint. He shrugs it off—no biggie. He’s my brother. This is gonna rock!
Tyler gets so into what he is doing. He knows his food. I am told I will need to jump in/interrrupt/no problem or Tyler will forget to let me in. So, I jump in. I ask dumb questions. I mix and stir and flip and butter and joke around about flaming the baba cakes. We are swinging! It was such an easy day. We’re done?
Get out! You’re kidding? We never do re-takes. Maybe four, at the most. The crew likes the spontaneity of our flow. There is laughter, one more shot of me placing the Baba Cakes in the oven.
THE TEA PARTY
The girls are both home from school. Lance has picked them up; they get out at different times. They want the tea party. Almost, I say. What do you want to dress up as? Lily becomes a Pink Silk Chinese Princess with star sparkles by her eyes. io is a blue fairy is a miniature ball gown. Lance is SERPICO, baby, YEA!
I am exchanging my ‘day” clothes for a giant sea green with tulle southern belle
gown. I wear my grandmother’s flowered hat and crystal necklace. Todd and his Mickey are dressed as 70’s funksters, and the Mermaid has arrived. I place a flower in her hair. Tyler puts on 70’s SHAFT style sunglasses and a cowboy hat. He is still wearing his five star Cuban jacket, jeans and a cowboy shirt.
Abbey has transformed my orange office into a play to relax for tea. A bowl of limes are behind me on a side table. We have baba cakes, three different kids of open face sandwiches (complete with brie, turkey, pears, salmon, special spreads)…Tea is served! I spill tea from my Astro Boy teapot all over my lap.
We are laughing some more, the camera is rolling, we all start to sing as I play
Lily’s toy guitar.
It’s a perfect day. Perfectly perfect. Thank you, Food 911. It was a wrap!