It’s 5am, and I am half asleep on a train to upstate NY to assist on my first promo shoot. We’re shooting a “How Do You Iron Chef” (HDYIC) interstitial at Suffern Middle School. Based on the show Iron Chef America, HDYIC interstitials show actual viewers holding their own Iron Chef competitions in their homes or communities. For the next two days, we’ll be capturing 11-14 year-olds battling each other with middle school coconut concoctions.
Day 1: We observe and tape four periods of kitchen savvy kids harnessing the power of the coconut. I am there to learn more about producing in the field. And most pressure filled, I am solely representing FN. The first day is crazy: the city got wind of Food Network filming, so there are newspapers, photographers, a camera crew from the local news, and everyone keeps mistaking me for one of the students. It blows my mind the entire time to see an idea from my department (Creative Services) create such excitement, and hearing people’s positive perception of Food Network is always amazing. When space allows, I run around observing Jana (Director) and Larry (Director of Photography/Editor) piece together the spot through filming, interviews and collaborative brainstorming. The school’s curriculum is inspirationally progressive, and the day fills up with the most thoughtful conversations about giving children a healthy foundation for personal and professional growth. I end the day buying out a grocery store’s entire stock of coconuts.
Day 2: It’s judgment day! I am an impartial, but excited taster. I try coconut shrimp, a coconut trifle, coconut monkey bread (I was obsessed, btw), coconut Turkey, coconut etc. Everything these young people not only prepared, but created recipes for, is more complex and more mature than the fried bologna and cheese I was “cooking” (microwaving) at their age. Every table I visit is working cooperatively to try to become the Next Iron Chef, and they all want to win. We set up for the ‘golden spoon’ winner presentation in the auditorium. We go through a few takes to get everyone to shout out “How Do You Iron Chef” with a level of unbridled enthusiasm not usually possessed by your average pre-teen. In the end I leave with a healthier perception of my own early educational experience, a greater love of the creative process, and an extremely soft Suffern Middle School towel given to me by the school.
Check out TV Mambo’s magnificent vignette below with your favorite young peeps to see who won! Maybe it will inspire them to want to create their own dishes, and who knows where that could lead!