I’m a big fan of diversification. I’m also very curious. So when I get the opportunity to learn a new skill, or take a glimpse behind the scenes, I’m all for it — especially when I get to do both.
This week I got that opportunity when I played “food stylist to the stars.” Ok, well, they’re stars to me. And, honestly, I didn’t really do much. I was mostly just learning how to pull off a non-disastrous cooking demo on live TV. Still, it was fun to hang around the set and watch robot cameras gliding across the room, even if it did mean I had to get up at the crack of dawn to do it.
First cookbook author Michael Ruhlman came to town April 9 to talk about his new book “Eggs: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient.”
I shadowed stylist Janey Slunaker, who works with Biblio Trek media escort service, as she prepared the food that he would need for his live cooking demo on AM Northwest, the live morning show on Portland’s KATU TV station. She prepared a ton of great food from his cookbook and had all the ingredients prepped and ready for him to live-demo his egg salad recipe (which, by the way, is fantastic). Having just flown in from a book signing in Seattle late the night before, the tired Ruhlman, who is on a big book tour, was very appreciative and his live demo went smoothly. Did I mention it was live TV?
Clearly, the whole live TV thing gave me the jitters, and I wasn’t even the one in front of the camera. Every time the cameras stopped rolling for a commercial break I’d exhale so deeply you’d think I was in yoga class. Or labor. Then when I’d hear the producer shout “30 seconds!” before things started rolling again, I’d tense up and get this little adrenaline rush.
Apparently I’m an adrenaline junky, because two days later, there I was back in the AM Northwest studio, this time helping my good friend Laura Russell get ready for her cooking demo. She has a fantastic new book out called “Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables” and she was going to demo a delicious slaw of julienned broccoli stalks and kohlrabi.
This being my second visit, the AM Northwest set felt a lot less intimidating. That is, until I walked into the green room and saw Ed Begley, Jr., sitting on the couch. Oh my god! I grew up seeing him in TV and movies. And loved him in Arrested Development. And there he was, just two feet away. I would’ve been more star-struck but he was just so incredibly nice. I found myself chatting with him about his granddaughter and trying to give him restaurant recommendations when in walked Tommy Davidson. What?!! Where am I? L.A.? Tommy was a cast member of In Living Color, one of the BEST comedy sketch shows of all time. And there he was, giving Ed a hug, because who wouldn’t give Ed a hug? Plus, they’re friends.
At this point I had to walk out. It was too much. Any minute I was going to start blabbering like a fan girl. But then I realized I was missing my perfect Instagram moment. Plus, I had to commemorate the day my friend Laura got to be on TV with Ed Begley Jr and Tommy Davidson. So I walked back in, dragging Laura with me, and there was another guy in there. Turns out it’s Bart King, the extremely funny author of one of my daughter’s favorite books: “The Big Book of Girl Stuff” (which seems weird until you realize he started with “Boy Stuff” and is a damn good researcher. And has five — five! — sisters. I think he’s qualified.).
They were all total sweethearts and graciously posed for a picture. Then they proceeded to simply KILL IT on live TV. All of them. The boys were up first, followed by the most impressive example of poise, aplomb and expertise I’ve seen in a cooking demo in a very long time. Laura, who says she hates being in front of any camera, did a stellar job.
It was a morning packed with awesomeness and it wasn’t even 10 o’clock yet. Normally, I’d still be in my “yoga pants” (ahem, pajamas) and chugging down coffee. As I drove home, with the sun shining and the sky blue even though it’s April in Portland, I knew that whatever else happened today (like a neighborhood of kids off school making a complete disaster of my house), at least I had this.