Wednesday, August 21, 2013

IRONSIDE: Blair Underwood and Dominican Food...can I get a what what...

A new sexy approach to detective work from a wheelchair and we got to fry his chicken...

Whoa. Blair Underwood.

I first worked with Blair Underwood on the set of LA Law.. Is this a kush job or what?

In his IMDB profile it states, and I quote, "Blair Underwood is a smart, confidant, eloquent, exceptionally handsome African-American actor who was born in Tacoma Washington in 1964, the son of an Army man, and, with his family lived all over the world. Trained in musical theater at Carnegie-Mellon, he moved to New York and got his first break on his second day there by winning a part on "The Cosby Show," and later scored the charismatic role of attorney Jonathan Rollins in the hit dramatic series "LA Law"

BUT WAIT.. We were discussing movie food...

We arrived at the "O's Chicken Shack" location in downtown LA (posing as NYC) at 6 am with massive amounts of lime marinated Dominican fried chicken with a mango sauce, creamy cuminy delicious cole slaw, cheesy gooey mac and cheese, spicy fried okra, not to mention a sumptuous island banana pudding with toasted coconut.

The cuisine of the Dominican Republic reflects it's melting pot roots of Taino, European and African cultures with
later additions from Lebanon, Syria, and other communities of the Middle East and Asia. 

Arriving anywhere at 6 am is a challenge, but arriving with food, food warmers, coolers, knives, cutting boards, spray bottles, gloves, microwaves, a tool kit...well you get the picture...

6:30 AM. Interior of O's Chicken Shack with food in place warm and ready to go. 

Once inside and settled in we carved out a space for ourselves and got to work putting together a Dominican buffet behind the "shack" counter. In this industry everyone is constantly jockeying for position, but at the same time being extremely polite and respectful (well most of the time) of each others work. After all there are hairdressers, makeup artists, a wardrobe department, camera crew, sound engineers, grips, video village, electricians, cinematographers, directors, assistant directors, set decorators, property masters.. all who need a place to be, and sometimes in some very tiny locales. One needs to know who to ask the proper questions of, how to quickly get out of their way, and how to set

Picking up his chicken

The scene opens on an actor walking up to the counter to get his chicken. No sooner had we turned around, and he was pushed up against a wall. Cut! 50 chicken legs later that man was fried chickened out.

And apparently Blair Underwood... Also loved the chicken. Now he too is tweeting about the most sought after food stylist in Hollywood

Just kidding.

Recipes for Lime marinated Fried Chicken, Creamy Cumin Cole Slaw and delicious Caribbean Banana Pudding

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sullivan and Son-Bacon Pizza!

The amazing cast of "Sullivan and Son"

Food Porn at its Best


Food porn is a glamorized visual presentation of food in every type of visual media. Usually it involves foods boasting a high fat and calorie content or exotic dishes that arouse a desire to eat or cook. Food porn often takes the form of food photography and styling that presents food provocatively, in a similar way to fashion photography or pornography. 

When you think about it, what is more delicious than a photograph of a cheeseburger dripping with ketchup, special sauce, cheese, lettuce, grilled onions, and tomatoes weighing just enough to squeeze out little spurts of mustardy mayo deliciousness?

Imagine a flourless chocolate cake that oozes molten chocolate onto the plate mixing with a mint creme anglaise and raspberry coulis with fresh sugared raspberries dancing around nearby. And who these days doesn’t love bacon? We now have bacon butter, bacon donuts, bacon cupcakes, bacon lollipops, and of course the old standby... bacon pizza.

What better example could there be than a recent assignment where I was asked to produce 30 pizzas so bacon-y and decadent that the bacon had to be baked INTO the crust, for the comedy TV hit, “Sullivan and Son”. In this particular episode comedian Ken Jeong (Hangover trilogy, The Office, Knocked Up) played a depressive urologist, and at the prompting of his friends discovers the miracle of pizza washed down with many sake bombs. He exclaims drunkenly, "beer and pizza! Does anyone know about this combination?” The funny thing is that Ken Jeong actually is a doctor and an amazing comedic actor who graduated with his MD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.. But back to Bacon pizza...

In this episode, Brian Doyal Murray, a bar regular, is supposed to be scarfing down the bacon pizza, and we were called in to produce this tasty prop. My team and I sourced out the best Pizzeria for the job as the producers were very specific about having a perfectly round pizza dripping with bacon and cheese that looked exactly the same in every shot, which is never an easy task.  In food styling there is something called continuity. If the principal actor is eating a slice of pizza it has to be replicated exactly as it was in the first ten takes (then the next 10 takes often using a spit bucket), but back to delicious food and the need for 30 perfect pies.

After calling 25 pizza places, we found “Pizza Cookery”, in Woodlands Hills CA, They were personal friends of one of my amazing assistants, Skyler Thomson and the only ones that would bake cheese and bacon into the crust as well as on the surface. It still took three tries (driving out to Woodland Hills each time) to get them close to the effect that we wanted for the camera. After arriving at the set we had to strategically place tons of perfectly baked, sliced and shined up pieces of bacon onto the slice to make it look truly mouth watering.  Check our next blog for tricks on the road to shininess...

Bacon Pizza is the perfect food porn. With a calorie content of 2,340 and enough saturated fat to clog any artery, it is just tempting enough, with its great color and visual appeal (accented with Pam), to look irresistible. We knew we had succeeded because it was difficult to fend off the crew from eating the props throughout the shooting.  In fact everyone in the cast and crew got to eat tons of bacon pizza leading to a truly happy ending again, in the life of LA’s most sought after food stylist.

Artisan Pizza
Sophie Clark, (of "Sophie's Choice” and another of my great assistants) is a pizza maven extraordinaire. We wanted to include an updated delicious classic and much healthier version of bacon pizza that involves prosciutto, shaved brussel sprouts, home made mozzarella, and tiny little farm to table red and orange button tomatoes.