Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Behind the Scenes of a Television Cooking Segment...The Weekend Gourmet Cooks on Great Day SA!

It's 15 minutes until the show goes live, so I'm busily putting the finishing
touches on my prep work in the KENS 5 kitchen set.
The Weekend Gourmet started as a creative outlet for me to write about the foods that I create in my kitchen. Cooking is my passion, and sharing it with my readers is one the biggest joys in my life. Thanks to this blog, I've been fortunate to experience some wonderful and unexpected benefits...including cooking twice now on Great Day SA, a local television morning show here in San Antonio. My first appearance featured me making my Kitchen Sink Jambalaya on Mardi Gras in connection with participating in Red Gold Tomato's Taste of the NFL contest earlier this year. I had a ball, and I was beyond thrilled when they asked me to come back and cook again!

Most of y'all don't know this, but I have a background in broadcasting. During college, my undergrad degree was in Radio, Television, and Film. I've worked for a variety of radio stations...and I dabbled in a bit of TV back in the day as well. I also love public speaking, so it's a dream come true to appear on a professional television broadcast!! This time, they asked me to focus on a light and healthy summer I shared my yummy Pollo Confetti Chef Salad. I thought it might be fun to share some behind-the-scenes pictures that Michael snapped, along with some information about everything that goes into preparing for a 4-to-5-minute television cooking segment.

Five minutes before the show starts, the ingredients are laid out...the decor
is set up, and a finished salad is on display.
The prep work begins the evening before the show. I'm responsible for bringing all of the decorations/props and cooking utensils, serving platters, and prepped ingredients that I will need. The KENS 5 kitchen set has a working stove, oven, fridge, and microwave. I spent most of the night before chopping veggies and making black bean-corn salsa, seasoned chicken breast chunks, and flour tortilla croutons. I have to make sure to prep enough ingredients so I can assemble one complete salad when I arrive on show viewers what the finished product looks like. Each ingredient is placed in baggies or containers and packed into a cooler before bed. I also make an inventory list of all ingredients and serving pieces that I need to take with me...I go over it twice: the night before AND the morning of the show! If I forget something, it can cause major stress leading up to airtime. Case in point: I forgot to pack a knife to chop my avocados this time. Luckily, a resourceful production intern located a plastic knife for me, which worked well in a pinch. 

The alarm goes off at 600...I need time to do full hair and makeup and load up the car before we leave at 730. The show airs live at 900 each morning, and guests are asked to arrive at 800 to set up. Let me tell you, the time goes by QUICKLY!! There are tons of lights, cameras, and monitors on the set...and lots of production staff running around getting ready for the show. As I prep my ingredients and decorate the kitchen set, the producer tells me that I'll be up after the opening segment and first commercial break. Host Paul Mireles stops by to discuss what questions he'll ask...and I let him know that I'm going to have him help me assemble the salad as we chat. 

The view of the Great Day SA set from the audience point of view. Notice multiple cameras, monitors, and crew. Ralph, the producer, is in the Spurs Ginobili jersey. His job is to keep this controlled chaos organized!

The audience is seated about 15 minutes before the show starts. I'm mostly set up by then, so it's time to go into the production booth to verify the spelling of my name and the blog's url for the pop-ups that will be inserted during my segment. Then, it's off to the dressing room to powder my nose, fluff and spray my hair, and put on my apron. Not only does the camera add 15 lbs. (NOT fun, by the way...), but the bright studio lights can really make you look washed out -- especially when you're as fair as I am! That means I have to wear a lot more makeup than usual, and more vibrant colors. Then? It's showtime!! During the opening segment, I make sure that everything is in place...and I just try to relax and have fun. Michael waves at me from the audience and gives me a thumbs up...he's my biggest fan!

This is a teleprompter. It is mounted to the top front of the camera, and the text
crawls up as the host reads the words.
During the commercial break before my segment, the cameras move in and Paul makes his way over to the kitchen studio. We chat a bit during the commercials. Then? The producer counts us down from the commercial break  3-2-1...and we're live! Paul reads his introduction using a teleprompter, which is mounted to the top front of the camera he's looking into. Seeing my blog's name spelled out on the teleprompter is a pretty surreal feeling...looks pretty cool, huh?!?!? We then spend the next 4 minutes talking about my Pollo Confetti Chef Salad...and assembling one as we chat. The time goes by quickly, but I'm not the least bit nervous. Paul is very friendly, so it's more like hanging out with someone in the kitchen! I try not to think about the cameras and just focus on having fun. Before I know it, the segment is over...and I head over to sit next to Michael in the audience for the rest of the show.

In the KENS 5 kitchen with host Paul Mireles. There are three cameras and a monitor over my shoulder the entire time! It's really not as scary as it looks. I just try to think of it as hanging out in the kitchen and talking about food...and all the cameras just happen to be there!

When the show is over, I thank the production crew for their a bit with the hosts and producer, and leave one of the finished salads for them to enjoy! Michael and I pack up my stuff, load it in the car, and get back to our normal life. It's time to head to my day job for the rest of the day...and I take the other completed salad to the office to share with my co-workers. People ask me if it's scary or nerve-wracking to be on live television. I can honestly say that I find it to be a blast...and not the least bit scary. Cooking on television is such fun for me! And's how the final product looked as it aired live. Now that you know what it takes to make this segment happen, tell me what you think!

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