Saturday, June 25, 2011

behind the scenes: grilling special

I love sharing "behind the scenes".  People always ask me about working on television shoots; so I feel sharing my photos and stories is a great way to pass along some of my insight into what it is we do.  A lot of time, preparation and people go into making a tv shoot "happen".  Some may say it takes a small army!  The teams I work with at Martha Stewart however are definitely well oiled machines.  Everyone works so well together to make magic happen.  This last shoot I was a set decorator on, Martha Stewart Presents: Grilling Secrets of the Master Chefs, was no different.  We may have had a few weather obstacles to push through...we set up and shot outside on some of the hottest days of the year so, humid, 100 temps!  We also encountered severe wind and thunderstorms bringing hail!  Of course we didn't let that stop us...the show must go on!  With only 2 days to shoot segments with Martha and six guest chefs,  time was indeed of the essence!  

Every shoot starts with a design/concept board!

Paul, Morgan & Elaina (some of the members of the art dept. on this shoot) all prepping in our staging area in the equipment barn

Thomas (prep kitchen chef/manager), Greta (food producer) and I set up each chef's segment(s) the day before to make sure we had everything needed and to work out the space.  I photographed and printed the photos of the set up to use as reference and make for easy set up again on the shoot day.  

Set up for the Cuban style, whole roasted pig Martha shot with chef Roberto Guerra.  He used that wooden box called La Caja China, where the hot coals are on top and the pig roasts below!

Party set up on the lawn at Martha's farm...can't you just feel the heat?

Prep chef Kelli working in the "Prep Kitchen" created under a grand tent!

Thomas checking on the "swaps" of chef Elizabeth Karmel's beer can chickens.  

One of the camera men shooting the "beauty shot" of chef Elizabeth Karmel's burger bar

Paul making "sleeping bags" out of napkins for the tasting silverware.  These napkins we were using are biodegradable, recyclable and compostable...they are from this fun company called Mydrap.

Always helpful cue cards

My lunch!  A sampling from the morning's shoot...we never let anything go to waste!  Chef Brad Farmerie's grilled lobster was amazing!

Martha and chef Bill Taibe from Le Farm pose for a photo for the still photographer after finishing one of his three delicious grilled vegetable recipes. 

Prep chef Kevin prepared ginger with precision!

Beautiful cherries styled in wooden berry baskets ready to be placed on the picnic tables

A peak inside the control room...set up under another tent

All the chefs at their stations...grilling away as the guests stop by to sample their delicious eats!
Martha's horse trainer and Kevin Sharkey (Senior VP and Executive Editorial Director at MSLO) stopped by the party on horseback!

Everyone enjoying the food, drinks and festivities on the party lawn

And of party would be complete without dessert!
Chef Emeril Lagasse served up grilled peaches with mascarpone and honey.  Notice our camera crew was standing by to catch all the action!

One last fun photo I found on my iPhone from when we were preparing for the storm.  Anduin (Scenic Designer), Hosanna (Art Director), Paul and myself were out in the fields taking everything in for the night before the storm.  We covered the straw bales which were placed for seating around the huge iron pot used for smores making, so they would be nice and dry the next morning.  Luckily, the showers passed overnight and we were able to continue with our shoot the next day.

Want more behind the scenes?  Check out Martha's blog posts Behind the Scenes of my Grilling Special and Behind the Scenes of my Grilling Special - Part 2.

I wonder what will be next?  As you can see...we are ready for anything!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

just in time for summer

refreshing watermelon salad

I love summer...and today being the official start, the summer solstice...I want to make sure everyone is as excited as I am about the next couple of months!  What better way to get excited than to think about all the great summer foods!  Last night I made a delicious summer salad.  I have been hearing and reading about "watermelon salad", and watermelon being one of my favorite summer fruits, I figured it was time I whipped one up.  My sister always talks about adding cheese to her melon and my grandfather used to put salt on his watermelon, so really when I started looking for recipes, it didn't seem all that strange that salty cheeses were one of the main ingredients.  I also asked my bff Dan (of Sweet Dani B) - a self proclaimed foodie - if she ever made a watermelon salad.  She suggested substituting basil for mint since she wasn't a big fan of mint...I followed suit since I too prefer basil to mint.  So I ended up with 3 simple ingredients, seedless watermelon, feta cheese and basil.  I also read about dressing it with items such as oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice and even salt and pepper.  Since I was travelling with my salad, I left it plain, but I could see one or all of these additions only making the salad extra tasty.

Of course summer foods are not only about fruits and fun salads...for me and so many, they include amazing grilled eats!  My husband and I love to use our grill... from the minute it even feels like it's getting sort of warm out, we start using the bbq.  We do the basics... burgers, sausage, kabobs, corn, pizza...but this year I want to start expanding my skills on the grill.    Pizza is fairly new for us, that we started last summer.  We actually had our first grilled pizzas of the season just this past weekend!  I think we have really started to perfect the technique :)

My husband Tom manning the grill with 2 pizzas!

My friend Wendye giving me a steak "searing" lesson

My latest conquest is red meat.  Although I do not eat it all that often...I would really like to learn/get better at cooking a nice, rare steak (my husband's favorite).  I even enlisted the help of a good friend who is a food stylist (among other things) to give me a mini lesson last time she was over.  I was making steak I had a recipe from one of my favorite magazines Everyday Food for Chile-Spiced Steak and I used their marinade on the flank steak.  Wendye brought over a great book by the editors at Cook's Illustrated, The Best Recipe: Grilling and Barbecue,  that we used as a reference for grilling temperature and cook time.  It went well....however I still feel I have a lot to learn.  Fortunately, there are always friends, books and of course, one of the great masters herself, Martha Stewart, to pass along some lessons!  I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to work with the incredibly talented team that put together Martha Stewart Presents: Grilling Secrets of the Master Chefs.  It was a great shoot where Martha and several well known chefs (including Emeril) grilled up some amazing meals and shared their secrets while doing it.  I can not wait to see it air.  The premier is June 24th, 8pm on the Hallmark Channel.  For a preview, click on the link above.  Of course I also have some great behind the scenes from the shoot to share with you all, just like I did from the Martha's Eggcellent Easter Special!  Make sure you check back after you tune in on the 24th!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

nyc flower market

Have you been lately?  It's one of those places most New Yorkers just never get tired of walking through.  This one block of NYC...West 28th Street between 6th and 7th Streets is always bustling early in the mornings with florists, designers, stylists, and decorators (just to name a few!) rushing to check out some of the most beautiful and lush flowers around. 

Beautiful flowers always offer me such wonderful inspiration.
This is only a sample of what was available last week!  What's blooming near you?