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Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spontaneous Hollywood!

So last week, I got a phone call from David, a seasoned PBS producer, asking if I would be interested in the part of an Asian chef for a TV sizzle reel/pilot that he was producing in Los Angeles.  Little did he know that I had just promised my husband that the month of May would be traveled free. I told David no, I wasn’t really interested, as a trip to Los Angeles from Florida involved time away from the boys and dealing with the horrid necessities of travel: airports and strangers overstepping the boundaries of my personal space.

I put the word out on Twitter and Facebook, calling for any Asian chef who could play the part, and sent him a couple of leads. The next day, David called me back, telling me that the leads didn’t quite work out, the shoot is in three days and would I reconsider because I was perfect for the part? Please?

Three days?!! Geez David, you sure wait til the last minute to cast!

I finally agreed, but only if I could bring one of my close friends, Rachelle, a video journalist for the Travel Channel as a companion (read: protection) I guess I’d watched too many movies, seen too many episodes of CHiPs when I was a kid…because it made me feel better to have another girlfriend  by my side. What if David was a weirdo?!?

Of course, I didn’t tell Rachelle that. I sold her a spontaneous trip to LA based on the fact that she had never been before, and that I would take her to see the famous Hollywood sign. She took the bait.

Our schedule was so tight that we didn’t quite make it to the Hollywood sign….this is how close we got:

Thank goodness I had a zoom lens.

I can’t tell you what the show was about, other than the fact that involves cooking. But, I can say that I’m not the star of the series, I’m just playing a big role in the first episode.

The evening that Rachelle and I arrived, we had a magical dinner with friends Matt & Adam, Gaby, Jenny, Rachael, Edward and Lucy (who has THE CUTEST blog name by the way) at Nirvana Indian restaurant in Beverly Hills. The combined value of our professional photography equipment could purchase a car, yet NOT A SINGLE PHOTO taken that night. What horrible bloggers we are!

Well, the next morning, a very early early morning, Rachelle and I headed out to Melrose to Epicurean Cooking School to begin filming.  Since both of us are totally neurotic about being on time, we arrived early to walk across the street end to grab a breakfast.

We soon found out that this little coffee shop, Urth Cafe, was the choice hangout for actors and other good-looking-hoping-to-be-discovered people. Even the 2 on-duty cops who walked past had nice asses. That’s Hollywood for ya! {note to husband: only Rachelle looked at the asses, not me…no sireeeeee}

A fancy coffee shop, of course, must have fancy coffee drawings. Mine was a Pac-Man sticking his fat tongue out.

Rachelle’s was much prettier, 2 dolphins, one with a lap-band surgery.

I’ve heard of tea leaf readings, and in Hollywood, I’m sure they’re such a thing as coffee readings. If so this is what mine said:

Well, it was a great way to start the day, my next stop was the makeup artist’s chair.

While I was getting my makeup done, the rest of the crew arrived: two sound guys, three cameramen and what seemed like 28 producers. Eeek! Welcome to Hollywood!

This is the host of the show, Mark.  We had just met an hour before the camera started rolling, so we very quickly had to get to know each other and rehearse our lines. I had written all of my own script, and Mark’s lines were very much dependent on what I had written.

Since I only had three days to write the script, Mark got handed his lines literally hours before the shoot. Good thing he’s a professional standup comedian, he memorized parts and then we ad-libbed the rest.

This was Mark, one of the cameramen – he’s in Cannes right now for the Film Festival. Jealous.

Day 2 took place at Epicurean‘s the second location in Anaheim, a gorgeous, spacious cooking school with brand-new everything. It’s perfect and I want to move in, especially since it has fancy appliances and 5 stovetop stations. Cooking Thanksgiving supper in cramped kitchen no more!

I had written the majority of the script for a day 2, and I’m here with the producers David and Steve choreographing who goes where, what gets said, which gets cooked and what gets when. huh?

Thank goodness that I called blogger Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking to  come help me in the kitchen –  she was an angel and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her. Gaby prepped all of the food and helping cook the final dishes as well. This woman’s a rockstar in the kitchen! I take her home with me if I could – but I don’t think Matt and Adam would let me.

The show is more like a “reality-ishy show” — the script was fluid, we changed things up at the very last second based on what had happened in the previous two minutes. The crew relied on me to the be part-time director, script writer, actor and chef — and I’ve got to say — I had an absolute blast!

Forget being just an actor. I want to do it all! ;-)

Here we are strategizing the next 5 minutes of camera time. And get this…in this circle stands 2 exec producers from Mark Burnett Productions (Survivor! Celebrity Apprentice!) That’s a serious talent circle I’m standing in!

Jordan, the sound guy was always tryin’ to get fresh with me. Good times! LOL!

So I found out that Jordan is the sound master for many reality cooking shows like The Iron Next Chef and Hell’s Kitchen.

He certainly knows the sound of sizzle.

I took lots of pictures of Jordan and was really really super sweet to him because I know I had forgotten that I was wearing a mic and that he was wearing a headset, even when the cameras were off and I was in the other room.

I like Jordan.
He’s totally the bestest sound guy ever.
So handsome.

I don’t remember all that was said when cameras were off, but…ahem…I’d happily bribe him with $20 bills to keep him quiet JUST IN CASE.

Producers wishing I was a little taller.

And Rachelle, happy, smiley Rachelle…. one of my favorite travel buddies ever.

After two very long days of work, we wrapped up the shoot at a nearby park…me, Mark and the 42 4 producers. This is the team that’s gonna go out and sell this show. Sell the show! I want my mom to see me on TV!

Rachelle and I headed off to the airport to catch a redeye back to Florida, and we spied the coolest socks ever at LAX. Nighty-night-redeye-flight-knee-high-socks (though we’re both so short that they were pretty darn close to thigh-high socks). Of course they had the word “Hollywood” stitched on the side of them.

When I got back home, this little munchkin greeted me with a present.

Awww cute. a cookbook that he created with his class!

ooooh! (rubbing hands together!) excited! What recipe did you write for Mommy? Beef Bourguignon? Wok-Smoked Salmon? Escargot with Herb Butter?

“Mommy, let me show you my recipe…”

Pizza in a box! From the supermarket! Oh lordy. My kid ratted me out.

I’m betting that if David the producer saw that BEFORE, I wouldn’t have been casted ;-)

UPDATE: Rachelle surprised me with a video!!!!



59 Responses to “Spontaneous Hollywood!”

  1. I’m thinking that your husband will *probably* forgive you for another trip (maybe not for the asses comment…but). Looks very exciting! I can’t wait to see the show, and congrats!

  2. That is so cool, Jaden!! Congrats on the opportunity!

  3. Wei-Wei — 5/18/10 @ 11:38 am

    This is so cooooooool! I can’t wait to see the show. Do you know when it’s going to be released? Tell us asap! :D

    Wei-Wei

  4. Lys — 5/18/10 @ 11:40 am

    Keeping my fingers crossed that the pilot gets picked up!

  5. what an AWESOME experience! let us know when it airs, i’ll set my DVR :)

  6. julia — 5/18/10 @ 11:51 am

    Your son totally sold you out! So cute though. What a fun 3 day trip!

  7. Kirsten — 5/18/10 @ 11:53 am

    That is pretty need. Congratulations.
    I love the cookbook your son’s class made. We have one of those as well. It is a wonderful keeper.

  8. Donna Sepkowski — 5/18/10 @ 11:57 am

    Way to go, Jaden…sounds like they pretty much let you run with it! How exciting. Fingers crossed for you- keep us posted :-)

  9. Joyce Pinson — 5/18/10 @ 11:58 am

    Thanks for sharing this…enjoyed the whole story!

  10. OMG, what fun! You’re going to let us know when it airs right?

  11. You look fantastic, and sounds like you had a blast in my town… blocks away I might add.

    ROTFLMAO, my daughter refused to cook until recently (she is 23). Why would they when someone else in the house is so good at doing it for them?

    Hope the pilot gets picked up, and we see more of you in Southern California!

  12. Jaden, you are like the Energizer bunny… only much cuter and way more fun! So happy that such great opportunities are coming your way. I hope they sell this show; it would be cool to see you on TV. Hollywood/LA is a funny place, isn’t it? One of my friends lives there and works in TV/film. It seems like everyone there is either in the “business” or trying to be. ;)

  13. Alta — 5/18/10 @ 12:09 pm

    Awesome opportunity. I love Nathan’s pizza recipe most of all though!

  14. Rachelle — 5/18/10 @ 12:12 pm

    Oh shucky darn! I thought you were talking about me going to Hollywood with you! lol. Very cool to “meet” another Rachelle! I’ve met other Rochelles, Richelles, etc, but very rarely other RAchelles! =)

    Sounds like a fun show, I can’t wait to hear more and see it!

  15. SMITH BITES — 5/18/10 @ 12:13 pm

    You are SUCH a Rock Star and you make me laugh! woo-baby, just hold on to your hat Nellie – LA will be calling you back!

  16. Steve — 5/18/10 @ 12:14 pm

    Congrats and good luck the show getting bought! Hopefully when it airs it will be on one of our local PBS stations.

  17. Melinda — 5/18/10 @ 12:18 pm

    I couldn’t believe it when ypu said someone wanted you for a TV pilot episoide! Your life is a magic carpet ride! (but I know you work hard for the magis to look easy!)
    So happy you are going to be a Hollywood star!

    • SteamyKitchen — 5/18/10 @ 5:15 pm

      Well I *hope* it gets picked up! Crossing my fingers. It was such a fun experience.

  18. Vivian — 5/18/10 @ 12:51 pm

    So fun! I know work too but yes fun :) So glad you got experience this and share it with us. I hope it is sold and successful!

  19. Lynn — 5/18/10 @ 1:00 pm

    That is so cool! I knew it was only a matter of time before Hollywood started pounding on your door. I hope the show gets picked up because I want to see you on TV, too!

  20. Such a culinary rockstar. You need to get a pair of those heels with the pink fur on top to wear while you’re cooking at home.

  21. Indianapolis Amy — 5/18/10 @ 2:06 pm

    Love, love this post. Looks like you and Rachelle had a blast. When’s your next road trip?

    • SteamyKitchen — 5/18/10 @ 5:14 pm

      hmmmm….I’m thinking Rachelle and I need to head back to Mexico soon. We were pampered at the Royal Hideaway last year.

  22. Lyndsey — 5/18/10 @ 2:36 pm

    This is such a fun post! I enjoyed every minute of it. I love Nathan’s recipe, how funny one of his favorite things to eat is pizza from a box at Publix! But he did give you full credit!

    Hope we get to see you in the show. You’re such a talent!!

  23. Chris Mower — 5/18/10 @ 2:45 pm

    Sounds like you had a great time! Thanks for sharing it with all of us.

  24. Tracy — 5/18/10 @ 3:14 pm

    Sounds like fun! Hope we get to see it!

  25. Liam OMalley — 5/18/10 @ 4:11 pm

    Looks like a very cool experience – and the cookbook is too cute. We all need shortcuts once in awhile.

    I think I’m going to be laughing about “Ladles and Jellyspoons” for days.

  26. Emily — 5/18/10 @ 4:20 pm

    Wow! What a super fun adventure! I can’t wait to see the pilot–you will keep us updated, won’t you? ;)

  27. Angie — 5/18/10 @ 4:41 pm

    That’s so exciting, I hope the show gets picked up!

  28. Lucy Lean — 5/18/10 @ 5:50 pm

    LOL – pizza in a box – they never let you get away with anything!

  29. kat — 5/18/10 @ 7:40 pm

    so much fun!

  30. Cecilia M Young — 5/18/10 @ 7:47 pm

    Great post! What a beautiful gift from your son. I just found a poem that my son wrote in school – about 28 years ago! Those are the things that will keep you going…

  31. Sue — 5/18/10 @ 8:02 pm

    This is just great ………….a fantastic present from your son and this is indeed something a mother shall treasure for the rest of her life!

  32. OMG, congrats and well done!! You’re super talented and really funny, Jaden! Thoroughly enjoyed every photos and word of this post. :D

  33. bunkycooks — 5/18/10 @ 11:30 pm

    I am glad that you took the opportunity and went to LA! Good luck. Looks like a great show and I can’t wait to see it.

  34. Rachelle — 5/18/10 @ 11:32 pm

    Hilarious! I’d go Ninja on any creepy Hollywood guy for you baby! Mmmwah!

    Fun times.

    –Rachelle

  35. Lovely people in the exciting place! I’ll try coffee reading when visiting LA ;)

  36. Sasa — 5/19/10 @ 7:02 am

    Ahahahaha! It’s just like on Scooby Doo! “I woulda gotten away with it if it weren’t for those pesky kids…”

  37. HoneyB — 5/19/10 @ 8:43 am

    That is so cool for you although I’m sure you felt rushed! lol.

    Your little man is absolutely adorable and I totally love his recipe for his mom’s pizza!

  38. Anna — 5/19/10 @ 9:28 am

    How cool! Thanks for sharing a fantastic journey! Wonderful blogging.

  39. justcooknyc — 5/19/10 @ 2:02 pm

    wow, very cool

  40. Chef Monk — 5/19/10 @ 3:49 pm

    Hollywood? I just find you and fall madly in love with you and HOLLYWOOD is going to whisk you away? This can’t be happening! And ditch the boxed pizza and come to New York. We’ll take a tour of the best. Congratulations though I guess. :::sniffle:::

  41. Monica Bhide — 5/19/10 @ 4:39 pm

    Late to the party but CONGRATS!!!!! What awesome news!

  42. Chris — 5/19/10 @ 7:35 pm

    Take comfort in knowing the teachers’ creed: “If you don’t believe half the things your kid tells you about me, I won’t believe half the things your kid tells me about you!”

  43. Fran — 5/19/10 @ 11:29 pm

    Love the video, especially the clip where you say — EEEW! This is very cool. I hope we get to see you on national TV soon! I’m sure you were GREAT!

  44. Skip to Malou — 5/20/10 @ 12:38 am

    hi jaden,
    I told you I just started a job in LA right? I just want to share something…

    We see that HOLLYWOOD sign from our office and you know what our receptionist resigned last Monday because she said that sign is a constant reminder that she has bigger dreams and she quit to pursue it… BRAVO!

    And also yeah, the urth cafe is two blocks aways from our office…hahaha the things that i say here are insignificant but I think being new in LA thrills me to no end… I wish I could have bumped into you that day you were there! I would be soooo surprised.. Too bad I was out of the loop lately…

    Thanks for sharing your LA whirlwind trip… you are a star… let us know when it’s shown…

  45. I think those Beverly Hills cops were actors. :)

  46. Kiran — 5/21/10 @ 7:18 pm

    Love your awesomeness Jaden :) Nice trip!

  47. Brilliant post! I hope we get to see it in the UK!

  48. What a terrific and fun trip. Congratulations Jaden! I moved from Southern California 6 months ago and sure miss the sunshine.

  49. Kitchen Runway — 5/24/10 @ 7:36 pm

    Nathan is so sweet and his recipe entry totally brought a smile to my face! Kids & their pizza =)

  50. Miri — 5/25/10 @ 7:42 pm

    This looks like such a fun project! Can’t wait to see the finished project. You’ll take Hollywood by storm, I’m quite sure. I’m still making my videos and just got teamed up with a former Food Network producer (from Everyday Italian). We are developing a pilot this summer called “Weeknight Dinner Parties.” I will keep ya posted, hopefully I’ll be in the hair & makeup chair soon, too!

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