The Shortest 3 1/2 Minutes of my Life

Today Show

As some of you have already reported, my cookbook was featured on the Today Show* this morning — you can view the segment online. This was my very first television experience, and it was a fun, fascinating, and rather nerve-racking one: I’ll admit I didn’t sleep so well the night before, and the jetlag can’t have helped.

But the segment was so short — just three and a half minutes — that it was over before I had time to even realize it had started, so the part I enjoyed the most was the peek behind the scenes (the brand-new kitchen set; the so-called “green room” — not green at all — where assorted guests eat cookies as they wait for their turn; the make-up room, from which they emerge with glossier lips, shinier hair, and a heart that beats noticeably faster) and the advance prep work.

Because I was a guest from (way) out of town, a food stylist named Deb was to prepare the food that would be shown during the segment. I had been in touch with her and the segment producer a couple of weeks before, to decide which recipe I would be demonstrating (the Two Tomatoes and Parmesan French Toast) and what other dishes would be displayed as beauty shots on the set (the Very Chocolate Cookies, the Zucchini Carpaccio, the Pan Bagnat, and the Cumin Cheese Puffs).

There was a rehearsal yesterday afternoon, and this allowed me to familiarize myself with the set as we blocked out the segment, deciding how the recipe steps should be broken down for the demo, what sort of props were needed, and where they should be placed on the counter. The different elements were symbolized by sticky tags for Deb to remember, and when I showed up this morning, the food styling fairies had replaced them with the real thing, allowing me to share these before and after shots: a general view of the counter, and then left, middle, and right.

I was pleasantly surprised by the friendly, laid-back atmosphere on the set before and after the shooting, and I appreciated how everyone in the team tried to make things easy and smooth for me, explaining how things worked, making me laugh, and generally making sure I was happy and comfortable, well hydrated and breathing correctly. I was especially grateful to Deb and her assistant, Anna, for assembling the dishes with such care that they looked more beautiful that I could have hoped for, and so tasty that a crowd lingered on the set after the show like it was a cocktail party, chatting and snacking on the beauty shots — the Very Chocolate Cookies (p. 233) proved particularly popular.

* The Today Show is a live morning show on national television in the US; Alexandra Pournaras, who produced my segment, blogged about it on the show’s website.

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I would like to thank those of you who took the time to come and see me at the Dean & Deluca booksigning — I swear I didn’t have anything to do with the bomb scare, I was long gone by then and I’d taken all my stuff with me! And if you’re in NYC but couldn’t make it to this event, you can still get an autographed copy from the wonderful Kitchen Arts and Letters bookstore: I dropped by later in the afternoon to sign their stock, right before my publicist, our driver and I went to Grom for a much deserved and much enjoyed cup of ice cream.

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