Friday, August 1
Aida obtained a Grand Diplôme from Le Cordon Bleu Paris and also serves as CHOW.com's food editor. I recently spoke with Aida by telephone.
How did you get involved with Food Network and this show?
I’d been working at CHOW for over three years doing all kinds of content, from writing recipes, to stories, and video tips. Food Network saw the videos and were interested in talking to me. They’d been kicking around the idea of Ask Aida for over a year and when we met we realized this interactive show fit with my personality.
You’re a trained chef and have done a lot cooking videos online for CHOW. Was this your first TV experience? How was the transition?
It was my first TV experience. I definitely was daunted by the whole thing, but I’ve been a ballerina and performer, so I was up for the whole thing. We teamed up with a fabulous producer, Irene Wong, who worked with Giada [De Laurentiis] in the past. She really worked with me, putting me through “hosting boot camp” if you will.
I watched a preview clip online and in it you got an email question, a text message and a phone call. Were these actual viewer questions?
We took the viewers' questions into account when creating the theme of each episode. Some questions didn’t require an entire cooking demo, like “what’s the difference between salted and unsalted butter,” so sometimes I'll just answer them while I'm cooking.
Your show isn't really "live." Think you'd ever have a show featuring live questions, ones you hadn't heard beforehand?
I'd definitely need to ease into something like that. Doing a show is such a big process—everything from creating your recipes to learning your lines and long, long hours. Everything you saw on Next food Network Star was what I went through, I just wasn’t filmed. I think Sara Moulton did a fabulous job on Cooking Live. To do something similar would be an honor, but huge, huge shoes to fill.
I don’t know if you watched the finale of The Next Food Network Star, but there's some buzz online about how Adam's show pilot incorporated the element of answering questions via the Internet. Would you mind setting the record straight about the similarity to your show?
People don’t always realize how long it takes to make a show; there are so many different elements that need to come together. We’ve been talking about [Ask Aida] since the end of Fall/early Winter last year. Ask Aida was well, well underway when Star was being filmed.
I saw you recently shot a national commercial with Sunny Anderson to promote both of your shows. How was that experience?
It was so much fun. I had heard such wonderful things about Sunny before I met her, so I had big expectations [laughs]. It was kinda "host love at first sight." The two of us just totally clicked. We were basically just playing around onset all day, and from what I’m told they were able to capture that. We’ll see very shortly how the campaign turns out. It was a lot of fun.
Noah Starr is your “tech guru” on the show who goes through the various questions and picks ones to ask you. How did he come onboard and how is it working with him?
It was kind of like a speed dating service. They set me up with a group of potential sidekicks and I spent about 5-10 minutes with each one. It got narrowed down very quickly. Noah and I had very similar senses of humor and personalities. It’s helpful to have him sorting through questions so I can cook, plus he'll just ask me questions off the top of his head, which I think adds a nice dimension to the show.
Did you shoot in New York at Food Network?
I couldn’t do them at Food Network because Iron Chef was being filmed [laughs]. It would have been nice, though. They have such beautiful facilities and kitchens.
You currently live in San Francisco. How has the commuting back and forth to New York been?
I’m a huge traveler, so I don’t usually mind the hours it takes to travel. Well, it really didn’t bother me until a few weeks ago when I was on the JFK tarmac for about 5 ½ hours, and I was like “this is not the most convenient thing.” CHOW has been great about it. It’s been a really nice interplay between the two [jobs], because they complement each other yet are so different.
Are there Food Network shows or hosts that you watch and/or admire?
I didn’t really have a TV until about a year ago, but I’ve always loved dorking out with Alton Brown since I’m a food geek myself. I love all his shows.
You’ve shot 13 episodes of Ask Aida. What’s the next step?
Pretty much just wait and see how it’s received, and in this age of interactivity we’ll find out pretty quickly. The experience was great. Everybody from the camera crew to the producers to the food stylists were all so talented. I’m really hoping that I can continue to work with them because it was a lot of fun.
Ask Aida premieres tomorrow, Sat., Aug. 2, at 12:30pm ET on Food Network.
Images courtesy Food Network