After the Andrew Zimmern post on Monday I had a lot of emails asking if I knew the secret of starring in a culinary show on one of the preeminent food or travel networks.
Surfing the channels in an attempt to find my show, or hunting through TV Guide for my show’s listing should have been a sufficient answer to the question. I don’t have a show. And, I don’t know the secrets to arranging to have one pick up by any network or cable station. However, I do know the qualities it takes to get close to that dream and although not everyone has it, there is a certain “it” factor involved that just has to be part of the tube charisma.
Zimmern was born with it. He isn’t a restaurateur who has an “on” and “off” switch as most of us do. Even though I love the business, I tired of the people on occasion and eventually opted for a more peaceful, less hectic existence. Although I still shutter when driving by a vacant space, I would never really consider getting back into the game.
Andrew on the other hand has an inner spark that ignitres his complete enjoyment of people. His dining room charisma also carried over to his kitchen skills making him a culinary god in front or behind any stove. Seldom do you find a chef charming in his kitchen, but Andrew was always the gracious host. Even when swamped on a Friday night dinner rush, he would have a kind word for any friend who leaned in to say hello, or for any newbie cook who just chopped the veal into pieces instead of the carrots.
That talent shows through on his show.
Hard work is also criterion essential to success. I know Zimmern kept his eye on the ball from the first time he decided that food was his passion. He is more than just a weird food eating traveler, his culinary knowledge is extensive as his ability to tie in a variety of points about the countries and cultures he visits and draw the comparison to the foods he is sampling, sipping, or tossing under the table.
But aside from charm, knowledge, hard work, focus, and the ability to never give up, you have to “get your bones” as Anthony Bourdain claims. You have to spent time in the belly of the beast working your ass acquiring skills and knowledge so you can become an authority on food. Don’t believe for a moment that the job of washing dishes, or chopping carrots, or cleaning bathrooms and grease traps is not part of the
In Bourdain’s book, Kitchen Confidential, he outlines in a weird way the travels to his success. And the course he charted had many stops along the way along with turns and detours he never expected would bring him to TV Emmy status. Yet, that’s where the journey has taken Bourdain because of his hard work and focus.
One of the most enjoyable of all food related shows was aired the other evening. Immediately following Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods, Bourdain’s No Reservations aired. The show was one of the most fascinating, moving pieces of journalism this journalist had ever watched. Expecting to see Bourdain eat plates of Hummus, Kibbe and other Lebanese foods the viewer is transformed as the culinarian goes from cook to newsman in the moment it takes for the Israeli Army to bomb
To see the host turn into a restaurateur’s version of Dan Rather or Tom Brokaw is remarkable. The joy was to actually see his professionalism rise to the top, as did his emotion on more than one occasion. Suddenly the humbled spirit of the kitchenarian appeared across
Both Zimmern and Bourdain possess that quality.
That could be the secret to successful TV.