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Notes from the Test Kitchen: Prepping for a video shoot

Every other Friday, Food editor Russ Parsons and I spend the day shooting videos for KTLA's "Eat Beat" segments. The segments, short 1- to 2-minute recipe demonstrations, air on Wednesdays and Fridays toward the end of the 1 p.m. news hour.

What you don't see is the work and preparation that goes into the segments. We've done a few of them now (actually, more than 100) and have found a good groove, but I'm still sometimes amazed what goes on behind the scenes to make the segments happen.

After each week's recipe is chosen, we plot an outline for each dish, determining what stages we want each prepared through, to simplify a shoot. For instance, if we're demonstrating a slow-braised roast, we'll want a roast that isn't yet braised so the demonstrator can show the recipe being prepared, and then we'll have a roast finished, so the demonstrator can "magically" take it from the oven.

The day before the shoot, the kitchen staff will shop for all the ingredients, and prepare whatever we can ahead of time. We'll also go over the recipes one final time to make sure nothing is missing.

Finally, we'll plot the morning of the shoot, figuring out a timeline for final recipe preparation: If we're filming something like, heaven forbid, a hot souffle, we'll want to guesstimate when the demonstrator will be ready to show the dish coming out of the oven so it looks its best. We'll plot timelines for each of the dishes, and for the day as a whole.

The morning of the shoot, we'll show up one to two hours early to do final preparations: some of us will start setting up for the final recipe shoot (arranging props, having each stage of the recipe ready to go), while others work on recipes to appear later in the day (if we are working on a braise, we'll get that "hero" going a couple of hours early so it's ready when needed).

In all, we may do up to several set-ups for each recipe, and preparations for each can take 4 to 6 hours.  But through the magic of great editing, it's all condensed into a short and easy segment for the viewer.

-- Noelle Carter

Video: Noelle Carter

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