March 16th, 2009
So I’ve been wearing my Red Nose all week, the one with the teeth, (Ouch!) celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal of course, has been wearing his red face somewhat longer.
Chef/owner of the three Michelin starred, Fat Duck in Bray, Heston Blumenthal is the new celebrity chef on the butcher’s block. Somewhat posher than Jamie Oliver, and in the league of Gordon Ramsay, but charming with it, his style of cooking might be described as, extreme molecular gastronomy. His excellent series, ‘Big Chef, Little Chef’, saw him trying to beef-up the fortunes of one restaurant in the service area chain, followed rapidly by the current curiosity, Heston’s Victorian Feast – Channel 4 – where he tries to recreate Victorian dishes with some of the most gross ingredients and secretly watches the surprise on his guests’ faces as they tuck-in.
Now when you watch cooking shows, do you really think the chef is really rustling-up a delish dish in just half an hour? Sorry to disappoint but….take a look at this video. There’s not only a camera crew in his kitchen filming his every move, in fact it’s not even a kitchen but a set, and getting food to look that good, needs a lot of people. Food stylists, home economics people, set dressers, prop people, other chefs, researchers, the list goes on.
But are cooking programmes still popular, computer says yes. We lap it up, from Come Dine With Me, to the rumoured, Cooking With Coolio, they’re queuing at the broadcaster’s checkouts. Production companies too have discovered rich and piquant pickings in the genre with Optomen leading the way as discoverer of Jamie Oliver, and producer of shows featuring Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal and others. They are the cream. And of course Fresh One, Jamie Oliver’s own production company.
I was watching the nine celebrities climb Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief and I was thinking, how did they do that? A couple of self-shooting directors with Z7’s, probably a lot of radio mics so maybe a sound recordist and assistant? Well, I found out. There were over 100 people on that mountain, including the celebrities. 33 climbers, two doctors, two runners, 100 porters and half a ton of broadcasting equipment, Planned over seven months, a series of camps including medical facilities, were set-up to allow crews to leapfrog and follow the ascent of the celebs. Every day a runner had to run down the mountain with tapes for the two editing suites to cut in to the documentary. A production to rival Harry Potter’s 2nd unit in scale, Z7’s what was I thinking?!
Feed the world, feed the ITV 600.