PBS39 will permit foodies to watch live filming of kitchen show
PBS 39 will let foodies watch live filming of 'The Chef's Kitchen' show
The Morning Call
By Diane W. Stoneback
When PBS 39 puts you in a chair for the live filming of "The Chef's Kitchen," you'll hear the sizzle, savor the aromas and taste the foods.
As the call goes out for "Lights, camera, action!" in the station's new culinary studio, you could be next to a cameraman or looking over director Steven Horn's shoulder — a more intimate experience than joining a massive Food Network audience after a trip into New York City.
Lehigh Valley foodies will have the chance to see how the show is made, when Horn shifts production operations from Philadelphia to Bethlehem. In its 13th year, "The Chef's Kitchen" is seen by 44 million households.
Your experience on the set will give you a taste of true reality TV, says Horn, who will donate the cost of your tickets to PBS 39. He emphasizes, "We don't focus on a certain celebrity's personality or on filming a group of contentious chefs vying for prizes. We're showing talented chefs sharing their techniques and recipes so home cooks can improve their skills."
Tim Fallon, CEO of PBS 39, says Horn also plans to donate an edited-for-public-television version of each session to the station, providing it with a new and free source of local programming.
Chefs cover their own ingredient and travel costs for their appearances and "rarely turn me down," Horn says. Their reward is publicity in foodies' homes across the country. They work with a 30-minute camera limit including last-minute prepping, cooking ingredients, demonstrating techniques and plating finished dishes. Watching them could give you the courage to tackle dishes beyond your usual repertoire.
Horn's brand of live television is exciting because "cameras roll without multiple takes or scripts. You never know what's going to happen next," Fallon says. The director says, "If a chef's omelet cracks while he's flipping it, you're going to see it. You'll also see how he handles the problem."
Horn's guests for the long-running show don't make many errors. His lineup reads like a Who's Who of East Coast chefs, including Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert, Charlie Palmer and Masaharu Morimoto. "No chef makes it onto the show unless I've eaten in their restaurants. They've got to be good," says Horn, a self-professed foodie.
There's an added bonus for serious students of food television. Their in-studio time gives them an insider's view on how a "raw" show evolves. Then, they learn how it becomes "fully baked" during the editing process after watching the completed show at home. Speaking of students, Horn also asks Northampton Community College culinary students to assist the visiting chefs on the set when cameras are rolling.
"The Chef's Kitchen" episodes air on RCN, Service Electric, Comcast and Blue Ridge Communications systems. The 30-minute programs, and recipes, also are available at http://www.chefskitchen.tv.
Ready to make reservations for this experience? Send an email to the station, letting it know of your interest. Horn hasn't nailed down his full February shooting schedule, but the first six episodes filmed in Bethlehem will feature the talents of top-notch chefs from the nearby Sands Bethlehem Casino Resort.
"We're glad the show is coming here and are supporting it by signing on as a sponsor," says The Sands' Julia Corwin. However, she isn't commenting on Horn's other ideas that could make Bethlehem even more of a food town.
Horn says he would like to see a former 30,000-square-foot Bethlehem Steel building adjacent to PBS 39 and its kitchen studio transformed into a culinary center for the Northeast. He'd like to see the center include four or five top-notch restaurants, a market where shoppers can buy gourmet, specialty and fresh ingredients and space for additional programming including wine tastings or beer samplings. Fallon, clearly excited by what it could mean for the station and Bethlehem, calls Horn "something of a visionary."
During a recent launch party for "The Chef's Kitchen," Horn blended his vision with the skill of the chefs he was showing off. Three of the five chefs on stage in the studio that night were among those he's hoping will open restaurants in his culinary center — Patrick Feury, Christopher Lee and Olivier Desaintmartin.
Guests, seated at high-top tables where the production crew was working, watched the chefs shave white and black truffle into their dishes, turn pork belly into an amazing appetizer and demonstrate why the wings of skates are highly prized ingredients in France. That's only a sample of the action as the chefs took their turns in the Euro-contemporary kitchen designed and donated by Allentown's Morris Black Designs.
The kitchen set, which is on rollers, can be built or broken down in a matter of minutes. To accommodate the tastes and styles of additional cooking shows and their producers, its whole "look" can be changed by switching cabinet doors and hardware.
The chefs for the preview party put the studio's 18-foot-long island, stainless and quartz sinks, two ovens and 48-inch gas cook-top to good use, according to guests who tasted their creations after Horn announced, "It's a wrap!"
how to see the show
•What: Live taping sessions for "The Chef's Kitchen," a cooking show featuring noted East Coast chefs.
•Where: WLVT-PBS 39 studios, 801 E. First St., Bethlehem
•When: February, exact dates aren't set
•How much: $20 per session
•Tickets: email firstname.lastname@example.org
•Info: For previous episodes and recipes, see http://www.chefskitchen.tv. In addition, "The Chef's Kitchen" airs at 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays on Comcast and RCN; 5 p.m. Mondays and 9:30 p.m. Thursdays on Service Electric; 4 p.m. Tuesdays and 10:30 p.m. Wednesdays on Blue Ridge.