By: Laura Wetherbee
Television can make everything and everyone seem perfect, but there is a great deal of hard work that goes on behind the scenes to create that perfection. I had the amazing opportunity to be on set during the filming of the April 26 episode of ABC’s “The Chew” in Manhattan, and experienced firsthand just how much work goes into filming a quick one-hour episode.
Upon arrival, my friend and I were directed into a waiting room filled with other audience members attending the show. Suddenly, a woman with a headset pulled us aside and asked if we would like to sit at the tasting table up front. We ecstatically said yes, which meant we would be grubbing down and sampling the food the celebrity chefs were cooking up that episode. It was a dream come true, as my best friend is a diehard “Chew” fan and had been ranting about the tasting table for days.
After finding our luxury seats, I began to gaze around and notice the inner workings of the set. Certain areas looked picture-perfect for the camera, while others were filled with camera equipment, wires, lights, teleprompters and lots of crew workers. Many of the cooking stations were interchangeable and the workers were constantly rearranging the stations during commercial breaks.
The ovens were preheating, all the food was prepped for the chefs and the burners were heating up the pans ahead of time. The crew workers made their jobs seem effortless and remained calm, cool and collected throughout the filming. I believe these are important characteristics to possess to be successful in showbiz because it allows the filming to run smoothly with minimal chaos.
A hype man worked to get the crowd pumped, laughing and gasping in awe so they could record sound bits to play during the episode. The hype man reminded everyone in the audience to remain looking entertained with high-energy, especially those up front at the tasting table who could easily be replaced with another audience member. I admit, I did feel rather silly fake laughing for nearly a minute straight, but I knew it was an important feature for the show.
My friend and I were star struck when celebrity chefs, wellness enthusiasts and hosts Mario Batali, Carla Hall, Michael Symon, Daphne Oz and Clinton Kelly not only entered the set, but came right up to the tasting table and shook our hands! They were all so down-to-earth and thanked us for attending their show.
There was also a guest appearance by Courtney B. Carver, who is known for his role on “Law and Order: Criminal Intent.” He was a hilarious addition to the show and discussed his new movie “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” an HBO film released last month.
This episode was devoted to healthy dinners for a spring slim-down to get everyone’s beach bodies ready. The chefs cooked up an amazing roasted chicken salad first, which left our mouth’s watering. My friend even got to participate in a calorie count challenge, where she compared a typical patty melt to a low-calorie turkey melt alternative cooked up by Daphne Oz. The flavors of that turkey melt were phenomenal, and I could not believe there was nearly a 500-calorie difference between her burger and Michael Symon’s delicious sauerkraut patty melt.
Carla Hall, with the help of Mario Batali, ended the show with a killer strawberry raspberry “Napoleon” dessert that emanated true bliss. My mind was blown when I found out that this sugar-free dessert alternative was just a little over 100 calories. With the ever-growing threat and diagnoses of diabetes in America, it was great to see a health-conscious dessert that nearly everyone could enjoy, guilt-free.
It was only 10 a.m. and I had already eaten a three-course meal, thanks to the amazing staff at ABC Studios. My experience on the set of “The Chew” is something I will forever remember, and it opened my eyes to what happens behind the scenes on TV. Check out the episode on demand through ABC, and visit www.abc.go.com to find the recipes from the episode.