|A cooking show! What?!
||[Apr. 21st, 2011|05:18 pm]
A lot of people have been wondering what is up with the whole "Cooking show" thing I've been facebook status-ing about for the last few months. I guess my vague facebook statuses werent' enough for you people. I thought we were all educated here...jeez. This is where a winky face would go to denote sarcasm.
Rather than just explain briefly (who does brief! Harper! And who likes him? No one!) I'm going to give all of my adoring fans a break down of the day to day of filming the show. How I found out about it, what actually happened, my feelings (I'm sure!), and yeah. That way when you one day watch it on tv you can read this out loud at the same time and pretend it's audio commentary. You'll look so cool.
Anyways! Months ago my friend Mary Beth put on her status that her friend was casting for a cooking show for people who couldn't cook. Cheryl saw said status and immediately sent me a text telling me I should check out that status. After the initial "ouch" moment I realized she had a point because I'm not so good with the cooking stuff. I mean, my old roommates called me Captain Bland for a reason. Cheryl worries about me not eating when she's not home for a reason. My bank account that empties slowly from all the times I eat out (harr harr) is happening for a reason.
So, I got the email of the casting director from MB and emailed her saying charming things and being funny and talking about the irony of applying to a cooking show the same week I started working at the Culinary & Hospitality department of George Brown. Leslie, the casting director, thought I was indeed funny/charming and sent me the application to fill out.
The application wanted me to talk about my experiences with food, to have at least 3 great cooking horror stories, pictures of myself, my house, and at least three friends who could discuss my terrible cooking skills and would do so on camera.
Choosing who would be on tv with me wasn't too tricky because there aren’t a whole lot of people who I've cooked for/tried to cook for/talked to about cooking. The focus of my application wasn't so much that I'm a terrible cook but moreso that I never even tried to cook. Not for myself, not for my loved ones, not anyone. So I chose the few people who did have a cooking connection:
Lisa Watson: My friend and boss at 360 Health Care. Lisa was instrumental in my move towards learning to cook as it was her questioning why I didn't cook that I realized there was a problem. I remember clearly sitting in her office and her look at me, all serious and asking "Aren't you worth it, to cook for?" Cue "aaahhaaa" moment.
Tiff/Steph: These two are not only two of my bestest friends but they also try very hard to encourage my cooking. They're always giving me awesome vegan/gluten free recipes and are kind enough to answer the phone when I call asking about spices and groceries stores.
Cheryl: Of course my poor girlfriend who either has to a) eat my terrible food or b) is never cooked for ever had to be on the show. A big part of learning to cook (other than for myself) was to learn how to make something nice for her.
Zalina: Gotta throw in some old school friends in there for credibility. Speller's known me since we were 12/13 and is my best witness that I never cook. Ever.
So. Application went in and then I had to do an audition. The audition was the morning after Cheryl's birthday party but fortunately I was not very hung over. I got there at about 11 and hung out in the lobby waiting for my turn. Man, I met the weirdest folk. The lady ahead of me in line went on and on about how she was an extra in "The Kennedys" miniseries and how Katie Holmes thought she was just the most beautiful person. Which just goes to show that Katie Holmes needs glasses. Bazinga! The fellow behind me in line refused to take off his sunglasses (on an overcast January morning) and wore leather pants. He also regaled us with his cooking horror stories that all involved poop. He too was an aspiring actor. I started to realize that maybe reality tv shows were really more about people trying to be famous and not so much about actually learning to cook/survive on an island/be a better driver/learn how to manage finances. Shock! Gasp! But this did make me worried that my audition was going to be a bit more than I could handle as a nonactor.
But it was great! Leslie adored me and said that I was as great a pick-me-up as coffee! I don't remember most of the questions but I do remember making the camerafellow and Leslie laugh hysterically with this line:
Leslie: So, have you told your mom that you're going to be on a cooking show.
Me: Well, not too much really. I mean, telling your mom you're going to go on a show about cooking is kind of like saying, "Hey, mom! I'm in therapy! ...Thanks!" *thumbs up*
I'm such a jokester. So, the audition went well and then Leslie cut my 20 minute long interview down to 5 and sent it along to the Producers who would ultimately decide.
A few weeks went by and I got the good word that they had loved my audition and that we would begin filming in a few weeks (there was also an hour long phone interview where my "story" was more finely tuned out by the writers). Scheduling was kind of a nightmare because first they decided my house was too small to do the shoot and thus I needed to find a 'fake' house and also because they always wanted to shoot when I was at work. I understand it's hard to schedule around someone who works two jobs daily but I wondered if perhaps desperate actors were a lot more accommodating than I was being. So after asking friends who had kitchens I love and being very politely rejected my new boss at 360 (and friend) Lisa Knapper took the plunge and offered her brand new renovated kitchen. What a hero!
Shooting Day #1
So, this was the interview day! I left work with Knapper's key in my pocket and Lisa Watson drove me over to my new fake house. I gotta tell you, my new fake house was off the hook! I greatly enjoyed pretending that Knapper's cute little house was my cute little house. Lisa helped me with my hair/makeup and then we placed a few items around the kitchen to make it look a bit more like my house. Most of the things had to be moved anyways though because we are apparently brand-hogs (Superman! A brand! Try a hero, tv people!). Zalina was the next to show up and the interviews commenced. Lisa was interviewed first and man was it ever weird to hear someone talking about you. Every time she said "she" it was me they were talking about. It was not unlike being dead (she said confidantly as though there was any possible evidence of knowing that). Zalina was up next and that's probably when I started to get the most nervous? Lisa distracted me long enough so I didn't listen so hard to Zalina's interview so it will be a nice surprise when the show airs!
Then it was my turn and as soon as the camera was on me all my nervousness was gone. Darcy, the director, was/is totally awesome. He's this cute gay dude in his 40s (maybe?) and he basically just asks questions and then helps you frame it so it would make sense if no one heard the question. We went over my history, why I wanted to learn to cook now (for the future!), and what my favourite food was (tacos, obvs.). By the end of my interview Cheryl showed up and then it was her turn.
Man! Did that ever feel like we were on the dating show! I was sitting on the floor in the kitchen (because Cheryl kept using her hands towards where I was sitting when she could see me. What a sweetheart, right? However bad for tv so I had to hide) and I could hear everything she was saying. And when he would ask her a question that he had asked me I was like "how will she do!" but she totally did great! So, great job us! Although it was still dicey was to how long we've been together. Which I feel like will be an argument of numbers for forever.
Anyways! After Cheryl's interview they wanted to re-enact some of my cooking horror stories (you'll have to wait to see!) and then filmed Cheryl cooking and me doing dishes. The crew was so nice. Did I mention that? I may have forgotten. But yeah! So nice! They were really friendly and maybe a little shy but pretty cool. And can they ever clean up! That place looked like there had never been a crew there before they cleaned up so well! Which was really good because then Knapper came home and I could see the relief in her face that we hadn't wrecked her nice home.
Then Cheryl and I bussed home to our actual house where we were greeted by our four cats. Aw, I guess I missed them in my fake house. I guessssss.
Shooting Day #2
So this was the big day! This was the day I was going to meet Christine Cushing! She's the big time chef. Go ahead, google her. You'll see what a big deal she is. I'll wait.
This shooting day was probably the most awkward? Lisa Watson was so awesome. She took me to the shoot and did my hair and makeup again (and I got mascara under my eye and in my desperate attempts to get it off I gave myself a black eye? I'm so hardcore.) And she, Rune and I hung out from about 1; 30-3 waiting for the crew. Oh, who's Rune? Rune is Lisa's awesome 3 year old son who I'm in love with. He's the coolest little fellow who is 3. Aaaanyways. The crew shows up at 3, Lisa leaves, and then I begin the waiting game.
That was the awkward part. Waiting to be needed. They don't really need my help setting up and stuff (cause I'm the talent and that's beneath me) and they weren't filming until Christine got there (cause she's the actual talent) so I was basically always in the way. It really felt like those times when you're at a party and you don't know anyone but you can't leave until later because that's when your friend might show up. So everyone else is having a nice time and knows each other and you're just hanging out. I ended up hiding in a room and reading.
But then Christine showed up! And we met and it was cool. We did some filming where she gave me an ingredient and I had 30 minutes to make her a dish. Intrigue! Mystery.
She then mocked me for awhile and then shows me how to actually make something delicious and we all ooooh and ahhh at her skill. Christine then tells me that we are going to go a mystery location and I'm going to get a real education in cooking. Hmmm, I wonder where we're going.... By then it was about 10:30, it was a wrap, Knappers house was returned to her, peeps went home, I went home and fell into an exhausted slumber. Being charming is a lot of work. Even if you're a natural like me.
Shooting Day #3
Today was the mystery day! See, the whole thing about me and mysteries is that I will solve them. I'm a genius! So I knew we were going to be going to George Brown because the irony was delicious. So I'm picked up at 7AM (come onnnnn) and taken to a Tim Hortons where I'm mic'd. Always awkward to undo your pants at Timmies. Lemme tellsya. And then they blind fold me, lead me into a building, up some steps, and badabing! I'm at George Brown! My place of work! On my day off! ...yaaay! So then I do some stuff with some of my coworkers who are also Chef's, some stuff with Christine, and then that day is wrapped at about 5:30pm. They sent me home in a taxi and when I got home I thought I would have a little nap and then go out for dinner. When I woke up at midnight later I realized that maybe I was a bit more tired than I realized, fell back asleep and slept straight to 10. Yeah. 16 hours of sleep, yo. Tv. It's tiring!
Shooting Day #4
This was the last shooting day and again was at an undisclosed location. This one I really didn't know where we were going to go because this was going to be the day all my friends were fed by me in a dinner party style. Again, I was a little nervous but because all the other tapings had gone so smooth I really wasn't concerned. That is, of course, until we actually were in this giant room with four kitchens, I was given 5 recipes, a pile of ingredients and told I had 90 minutes to go. And GO. It was pretty intense and there was some great television made. Spoiler Alert: Food was made! Eaten!
Tiff and Steph were able to come to that taping and so they were interviewed at this point too. I'm glad they were interviewed together. It only makes sense.
The last day food was tricky. I mean, I was cooking for 2 vegans, 2 vegetarians, my girlfriend, and a renowned Chef. Yeah, no biggie. Totally biggie. But I survived and we got out of there at about 1am. Oh, and we were in Vaughn. Boooo. Thanks to Lisa Watson (AGAIN) for driving us right to our door.
So! That was it. That was the big tv debut. The show is called "Fearless in the Kitchen". It's on the Oprah Network (OWN) and it should be on in maybe the summer? They also will give me an electronic version so I totally will have a premiere night once I get it. It's only a 30 minute show for those 30 hours of film so I'm excited to see what made it (hopefully Taco jokes).
It was a really fun experience now that it's done but pretty stressful when I was in it. There were lots of moments before the actual taping where I had wished I hadn't signed up for it but that almost fully went away once we actually started the filming. The crew was amazing and I'm hoping I got a friendship out of it too (why hasn't he called!). Christine was totally amazing and I will never allow anything bad to ever be said about her every again (looking at you, Mark). While I did learn a few basic skills I think the most important thing I came out of the experience was that once you do this extreme version of cooking all other cooking seems easy in comparison. That's where my confidence was really boosted and I actually look forward to cooking in a way I never did before. I did get some swag from Christine and I will cherish my skillet always.
PS - The people who are commenting on this on facebook are hilarious. I'm looking at you AP.