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Friday, November 21

Q&A - Dear Food Network: Barefoot Contessa

Thanks so much to those of you who watched the Dear Food Network: Thanksgiving Desserts special that I got to be a part of. If you missed the first airirng, it looks like it's on again next Tuesday at 7pm EST and Thanksgiving Day at 12pm. The schedule page has some info.


Were you nervous?
Well, despite how the pic above may look, I really wasn't nervous about doing the interviews or the helicopter ride. All of the producers and tech people working for Pacific Productions were so nice throughout the entire process and made us feel totally comfortable. It was cool to finally meet some of the people we'd been conversing back and forth with about our videos, our travel arrangements, etc.



The most nerve-racking moment was meeting Ina for the first time. We did all of the beach and helicoper stuff early in the day, went to lunch, and even stopped by the former location of Barefoot Contessa, which is now a clothing store.


The oustside still looks the same, but that's about it. Upstairs, Ina has an office (which has been seen on the show) where she and her staff fulfill cookbook orders and do the business side of "Ina Garten LLC."




Pretty basic, huh? Betcha thought Ina would be working out of a place that looked just like her house, but look at that. Window A/C units! Oscillating fans! She's like a regular person, I tell you.
ANYway... after all that excitement, we still had a lot of wating to do before we were allowed inside Ina's kitchen. We went to Starbucks and sat for about half and hour, drove around, and eventually got the call that we could come over. They had been shooting all of the other stuff from the special that day, too.

We got to Ina's house and waited some more. A LONG time. At least it seemed like a long time. We were literally standing in her driveway, knowing Ina and some of her friends were inside, but we couldn't go in! I think the nervousness started to set in there.

The director finally came outside and told us how we'd be entering, but left it all very mysterious. "There will be a few people at the door. Say hello to them. Then walk inside the room and you'll be greeted by someone," was basically what he said.

So we did the walk up, the greeting of the people outside, turned the corner to start entering the room, caught of GLIPSE (like a half-second) of Ina, and then were told to STOP. We needed to go back out and do it again.

We did it again. And again. I think we did it like 5 times. I only did my actual "greeting" of Ina twice, and the one that made it in seems to be the first time, so what you saw was my true, first reaction to meeting Ina. Pretty cool!

I think we all calmed down after that big parade. Ina was very intersted in talking to us and finding out where we were from, what we did, how long it took us to get there, etc. Some people would think that a "TV star" would only be on when the cameras were rolling, but oftentimes Ina would actually have to be told to stop talking to us because they needed to move on to some other scene. She was so nice!

How did the cheesecake and the other desserts taste?
All of the desserts were out on the table when we first walked in. When we finally got around to the "serving" segment, the director shot Ina cutting the cheesecake and putting it on a plate for me. She handed it to me and then--surprise--it got taken away! They had to go back, bring out a brand new cheesecake and shoot it again. This time, I got to take a bite. It was really good, of course.

Shooting a TV show involves lots of waiting, especially when you're working with something that gets consumed... like food. We had literally waited so long to try these desserts (and hadn't eaten dinner yet), that I think anything would have tasted delicious. That's not a slam on Ina, it's just the truth. We were also so amped up that I don't think we were even tasting the food fully.

Here's something you probably don't want to hear: I didn't try every dessert!

It wasn't entirely my fault, though. I had my cheesecake first, then tried the coconut cake, and then had a piece of the pumpkin roulade. This also wasn't a real party, remember. It's not like we had a lot of time to just sit around and chit chat, while orgasming over these delicous desserts. It was more like the director saying, "Okay, Jacob, take a bite. Now, move over so we can shoot the next part."

Not too long after trying a few desserts, the culinary staff came in and took them all away. I think the director originally envisioned having some time-lapse video of all the food on the table getting taken away. Don't think that ever made it in, though. Anyhow, I didn't get to try the gingerbread or the creme brulee. Curses me!

How was Jeffrey?
Jeffrey was just like he is on TV. I was really impressed by his on-camera abilities. He just walks rights in and throws out these one-liners and witty remarks without any writers to help, and always with a time crunch looming overhead. He was very kind, just like Ina.

All of the other attendees were great, too. Many of them were used to the TV taping process and seemed very at ease, even when they were getting microphone wires hooked up through their shirts or being told to "say a line" at a moment's notice.

How was her house?
As you know, Barefoot Contessa now shoots in Ina's barn, which sits a few hundred feet away from her real home in East Hampton. We didn't actually go into her house, which I was fine with. After seeing all the people that had to trudge through the barn just to shoot that special, I too would be glad to have my house back to being a house and not a working TV studio.

That's about it. It was such a great experience. Everyone from the production company to Ina herself really helped make the experience fun and memorable. Glad you all enjoyed watching it!

P.S.- I liked this "nighttime" Ina, didn't you?! She seemed more upbeat and zesty! Even the music was amped up. She ought to consider more primetime specials. Move over Paula's Party, Ina's on the loose!

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30 Comments:

At 11/21/2008 12:43 PM , Blogger Jenna said...

Jacob,

YAY! for you!!!

Did you have a viewing party at your place?? Details, please! (especially the food!)

 
At 11/21/2008 1:33 PM , Blogger Elle said...

Thanks so much for answering our questions and letting us enjoy the experience through your eyes. As a writer, I want you to know this was such a fun description. Jacob you gave us all the chance to really live it with you!

Best to you,
Elle
www.ellecoe.com

 
At 11/21/2008 1:38 PM , Anonymous Alec Smart said...

Did you swipe anything to keep as a cherished memento ?

 
At 11/21/2008 2:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so happy for you! And so jealous....you got to meet everyone! Michael the flying nun of flowers!? Bonus!

 
At 11/21/2008 2:52 PM , Anonymous Blaze said...

Great piece! I think Ina should do a nighttime show as well. Maybe "Evenings with Ina"!? What do you think of the title? OH! I almost forgot to ask...did you "take" anything as a memento? BTW-you're pretty cute ;)

 
At 11/21/2008 3:28 PM , Blogger Lindsey said...

I love this! Thanks for all the insider info.

 
At 11/21/2008 4:36 PM , Blogger Schottzie03 said...

Watergate never would have happened if only Ina had been in the White House a few years earlier. Her overwhelming civility would have eased Nixon's paranoia.

 
At 11/21/2008 5:35 PM , Blogger Prohomemaker.Com said...

LOVED the blow-by-blow, and LOL about them handing you the cheesecake and then taking it away. You were probably so starved, you snuck in the pnatry for a brownie.

I can't tell you how *happy* I was to hear how charming Ina was in "real life." It speaks so highly of her that she really took an interest in talking with you all (loved the comment that she had to be told to stop talking) :-)

Just a wonderful report, Jacob. Thanks so much for sharing! (By the way, did you send a thank you note?) :-)

 
At 11/21/2008 5:49 PM , Blogger imjacobsmom said...

Jacob,
I just wanted to let you know that I was so happy for you. I kept telling my own Jacob (like I actually know you) that's Jacob from the blog - hes so lucky he actually got invited to Ina's! They really seemed to treat you well, except for taking your cheesecake away....LOL ~ Robyn

 
At 11/21/2008 6:04 PM , Blogger Becca said...

Thanks for all the info. You're right, Ina looked great and I know she was having a good time.

Now tell us about all Ina's friends - especially Michael

 
At 11/21/2008 6:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jacob,

Great show! I was raised in McLean, VA & after college moved to Alexandria (worked in DC) and was married in "Old Town". It has been a while- scoop on the best restaurants now in good ol "old town".

Much appreciate it/you

 
At 11/21/2008 7:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the inside info, that was a great experience for you!! Ina always shows class in her shows and now in the way she treats her guests. Like you said, look out Paula, people like a class act and Ina is it!!!!!!!!!!!

 
At 11/21/2008 7:36 PM , Blogger Angie said...

Thanks for the insider info! It sounds like Ina's a class act on and off camera.

 
At 11/21/2008 7:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great job Jacob! I loved reading this. I have grown to like Ina more and more -- ok, I was REALLY impressed when Mel Brooks came to her house for dinner, but I digress. Thanks for a great blog!!

 
At 11/21/2008 8:18 PM , Anonymous Turtle said...

Thanks for the inside information, Jacob. I'm glad your li'l blog led to a chance to schmooze with Ms. Ina in the Hamptons.

One of your comments brought up a question I've had for awhile now: What happens to all of the prep food they blow through to film an episode of an average FN show?

You mentioned the producers taking away the cheesecake to bring in a fresh one for a reshoot. What happens to the original cheesecake? Do they eat it? Trash it?

I'd hate to think so much food was going into the dumpster given FN's omnipresent ads against hunger.

The Neelys and Ingrid Hoffman tend to sit down and eat their food, but I'm curious about all the food porn shows and what happens to all of that. One of Tuschman's blogs said something about the food being off-limits to crew.

I do realize that some of the food has to sit out for awhile under the hot production lights and get touched up with inedible glazes or what-have-you to capture those all-important beauty shots. But, still, what a waste. Consider how much food must get trashed in an average year if that's true.

I'd be interested in getting this question answered, if anyone at FN is listening...

 
At 11/21/2008 9:42 PM , Anonymous Megan said...

Thanks for the details. I love getting inside scoop. I used to live out in the hamptons and always hoped to run into Ina one day but unfortunately never did. I'm so jealous!

http://flavorfiles.blogspot.com/

 
At 11/22/2008 9:24 AM , OpenID happytummy said...

thanks for the behind-the-scenes look! sounds like it was so much fun. so glad to hear that ina and jeffrey are as nice in person as they seem to be on TV!!

 
At 11/22/2008 10:01 AM , Anonymous Melon_Lord said...

Ohh,interesting,I did miss the original airing,so i'm gonna catch it on Saturday

 
At 11/22/2008 10:32 AM , Anonymous Lana said...

Jacob, beautifully written! Really, you've got wonderful writing skills and you told us all the dish that interests us most. Thank you so much.

Turtle, I don't know about the shows filmed at other places (like Ina's and Paula's). But for the shows taped at the FN studios in New York, there is, unfortunately some wasted food. It's part of the biz. Finished plates sit around for a long time to get "the money shot."

If there is edible food leftover after the cooking process, it gets eaten by cooks, techs and studio crew, whoever is closeby.

At the end of each week, if there is raw perishable food leftover from taping shows, it's donated to City Harvest, http://www.cityharvest.org/

 
At 11/22/2008 2:22 PM , Anonymous lonbeehold said...

I would have watched the special anyway, but it was so much better knowing you would be on! You really looked at ease and like you were having a great time. So....did you make the cheesecake for your parents??

 
At 11/22/2008 4:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

ooooo wheeee!! i'm watching it right now!

--Rachel

 
At 11/22/2008 6:02 PM , Blogger Sunshine said...

Watched it and you have officially fulfilled one of my dreams - to meet Ina in person. Actually, I'd just rather Jeffrey and Ina adopt me outright, even better!

You are one lucky dude!

 
At 11/22/2008 6:20 PM , Anonymous Turtle said...

"If there is edible food leftover after the cooking process, it gets eaten by cooks, techs and studio crew, whoever is closeby.

At the end of each week, if there is raw perishable food leftover from taping shows, it's donated to City Harvest, http://www.cityharvest.org/"


Lana, thanks for the update. I'm curious, though, because Tuschman said on his blog that the food is "off-limits" to FN crew. Perhaps he meant the food before they captured the beauty shots.

 
At 11/22/2008 10:33 PM , Blogger Michelle said...

It was really nice to read Jacobs point of view, and it actually made me feel better about the show. I adore Ina, but thought the helicopter ride and birdseye view of the Hamptons was a bit 'over the top' - like something off that reality show with Donald Trump. But reading Jacobs story and hearing how kind and considerate Ina was, reaffirms my initial thoughts, Ina is the type of gal everybody wants to be friends with. She really is a nice person.

 
At 11/22/2008 10:33 PM , Blogger Michelle said...

It was really nice to read Jacobs point of view, and it actually made me feel better about the show. I adore Ina, but thought the helicopter ride and birdseye view of the Hamptons was a bit 'over the top' - like something off that reality show with Donald Trump. But reading Jacobs story and hearing how kind and considerate Ina was, reaffirms my initial thoughts, Ina is the type of gal everybody wants to be friends with. She really is a nice person.

 
At 11/23/2008 8:08 PM , Blogger Alejandro said...

Fantastic show, Jacob, and thanks for sharing all these wonderful photos with us. It's assuring to know that Ina is as genuine on FN as she is in person. I love her new show, and the theme music is jazzed up. I like it. I'm happy that you were able to meet and get to know the FN idol of many of us here on this blog!!! By the way, you were great on the special.

 
At 11/24/2008 10:44 AM , Blogger JordanBaker said...

I'm so glad you've listed the rebroadcast times--I missed it last week, and was feeling like a bad person.

 
At 11/24/2008 6:46 PM , Blogger jacob said...

"Alec Smart said...

Did you swipe anything to keep as a cherished memento?"

I did pick a cherry tomato in her garden, but she said we could.

 
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