Travel Channel Visits Local Restaurants
By Marc Donadieu
Glacier City Gazette
A video crew from Travel Channel’s show Food Paradise was on location at Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ and Double Musky last week. Film crew shot footage in kitchens and dining rooms, including interviews with people eating entrees.
The episodes are expected to air late in spring.
The Gazette was present at both restaurants during parts of the videotaping. Each experience was fun yet vastly different. The video crew was friendly and accommodating, making people feel at ease as they went about their work gathering video and photos. It was interesting to see the process for gathering footage.
The Food Paradise crew came to BBQ Pit on Aug. 14, and videotaping began early in the morning Two months prior, BBQ Pit Owner Jack Goodsell was asked if he was interested in having his restaurant appear on Food Paradise.
“The guys showed up at 5 a.m. on Monday morning,” Goodsell said. “They started setting up, and they wanted to see what we did and how we did it. We filmed for about four hours before they started interviewing the people up front.”
Footage was taken of Goodsell preparing food, putting meat in the smoker, taking it out of the smoker, and his daily routines. The experience was a little different than he expected.
“At six o’clock in the morning,” Goodsell said, “they have bright lights and three cameras that are three feet from your face. They made it kind of fun. I didn’t really get nervous, but it was exhausting. You wouldn’t think, but it is.”
Travel Channel will contact Goodsell when the episode is supposed to air, and the estimate is late spring, which is great timing for him.
“Because it’s national, and because it’s the Travel Channel,” Goodsell said, “a lot of people, when they travel to places they’re not familiar with, they’ll see what the Travel Channel is doing so they can get a little insight of what to expect. Hopefully, that will generate some revenue for us with new customers. I’ve done that myself. If I’m in the neighborhood where those TV programs have been, I check them out. Sometimes it’s great, and sometimes it’s not so much.”
This writer was unexpectedly interviewed by the Food Paradise crew at the BBQ Pit, and it was an enjoyable moment. The lights were rather bright, but the crew was easy-going and coached me to be enthusiastic throughout the interview. Answers were fine-tuned, repeated and delivered with conviction.
With a rack of un-sauced, smoked baby back ribs sitting before me on an oval plate, I was instructed to cut off a rib, apply spicy sauce and start biting. With my mouth full, the crew asked to describe what I tasted and why I enjoyed it. The multiple takes were tasty, and I somehow managed to keep sauce off of my large moustache.
This back and forth went on for a few minutes as ribs were cut away, sauced and gnawed on. I joked with the cameraman about having to spend the afternoon shooting close-ups of people eating ribs all afternoon. He replied that he was used to it. Then the crew and lights moved to another table
Goodsell spoke very favorably of the Food Paradise crew, which made for a festive tone throughout the day.
“It was like a party, but I didn’t have to clean up the next day. There were a lot of friends and a few of the restaurateurs we’ve done some charity work with came down. It was just really nice to have all of these people. I’ve had great support from customers and friends. It was a great, long afternoon.”
A few days later on Aug. 17, the Double Musky’s kitchen line was the setting for filming when the Gazette visited. A four-person crew set up closely in tight quarters. With two large video cameras, a soundman, and the interviewer, there was little room to move.
Double Musky Chef de Cuisine Duke Kauffman was barricaded behind the temporarily redesigned line by a square metal table placed alongside the range near the burners he would use. Blocked from leaving the line, items Kauffman needed had to be passed across. Once final audio and lighting checks were made, it was time for a cooking demonstration of sorts.
Kauffman had all of the ingredients he needed to fix Double Musky’s signature item: French Pepper Steak. There were bowls of lemon juice and soy sauce poured together for a quick marinade. White flour and a spectacular amount of black pepper were mixed together in a square pan.
A 23-ounce strip steak was dipped into the marinade, dredged through the flour and pepper mix, and finally dropped into a large iron skillet filled a third of the way with shimmering oil. Kauffman boiled a mix of vegetables and added seasoning and butter before plating them next to the pepper steak. Brown sauce was applied, coating the entire steak with a mix of roux, beef stock and burgundy. Then the sauced steak was topped with more black pepper.
The videotaping of the process was much more complex than the above, sequential description implies because all of the stops and starts were removed to produce a smooth reading experience. The interviewer had Kauffman stop and explain every step of the cooking process, sometimes multiple times. Answers were repeated with slight word tweaks or differences in delivery. The footage that airs on episodes and seems so natural is the product of coaching, repetition and careful video editing.
Kauffman was guided to pour the lemon juice and soy sauce slowly so a high speed camera could pick up the motion. He was asked to sprinkle pepper onto the flour in a lightly dramatic way for effect.
By getting video in this manner, an artificial process creates and captures ideal footage that looks great on television and tells a story. That is not the way Kauffman usually cooks, and he was not used to explaining everything multiple times looking for the best take when cooking.
Everything in the kitchen was arranged and enacted with the cameras in mind as opposed to the way pepper steak is always made at Double Musky. On Kauffman’s second take on pepper steak, the crew let him cook it more naturally with less talking and performing.
Food Paradise’s trip to Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ and Double Musky will showcase some of the region’s fine food. When viewers from out of the area see these episodes, they will want to visit the restaurants we’re lucky to have so nearby.