April Jeppson: A new take on cooking shows in this day

Published 8:45 pm Friday, June 14, 2024

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Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

I started watching a new television program where a chef cooks for two of his friends on live TV. I’ve never seen anything like it and I’m hooked.

April Jeppson

I grew up watching shows where the chef would talk about the ingredients and start assembling the recipe. Sometimes you’d get to see the entire process before they inevitably put the dish in the oven to cook. Then immediately they would pull out a perfectly golden something or another that they had made earlier to demonstrate what the final product would look like. The concept made sense, especially if the guest chef was doing a five-minute blip on a morning talk show.

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However, even as a child I had questions about this process. How long was that other dish sitting in the secret cupboard, waiting to come out? Were they actually cooking the dish I just watched them make? Is that a real oven or a prop that holds a garbage bin?

Although cooking shows are longer than morning show cameos, they still left plenty to be desired. The “homes” that they cooked in always seemed too perfect. Even though I grew up in a fairly quiet house, these programs were too quiet. The chef would calmly make the food and talk to the camera as if they were close friends. Lots of fancy TV editing and angles had me craving food that was almost impossible to recreate.

So now enter David Chang, cooking on live TV with real people and real results. You can tell that his guests actually know him. Talking about trips and holidays they’ve taken together.

Laughing about a mutual friend and the shenanigans they always seem to get into. During some moments you can hardly hear the conversation because they are laughing and talking over each other. I’m reminded of how I get with my friends when we’re having a good time.

He’ll ask them questions about their food preferences and before long they are razzing each other’s palette. “I can’t believe you put ketchup on that!”, “What do you mean you don’t like cereal?” The banter is so genuine that I can’t help but feel like I”m getting a glimpse into their real lives.

Each episode he tries to prepare a spread that is as unique as his guests. One week he took classic foods from each person’s town and combined them into new yet familiar dishes.

Another time he created all of his plates from items found in an Asian grocery store. Sometimes a dish doesn’t come out the way he wants, but he’ll pivot and still have fun.

It doesn’t hurt that most of his friends are comedians or actors that entertain for a living. The storytelling and humor are enough to keep me coming back. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m a sucker for vulnerability. I crave getting to know the real version of people. The unedited, often not pretty reality of the lives we live. The moment I get a vibe that something or someone is fake, I’m out. I don’t care how wealthy or famous you are, life is too short to be surrounded by phony energy.

So I think that’s it. The reason I love this show so much. Sure, I love cooking shows. I also love a good lighthearted comedy. But the thing that really calls out to me is how brave David is. He knows that things could go wrong, but he’s willing to go on live TV anyway. Not because he thinks he can do it perfectly, but because he thinks it would be cool to financially have a cooking show that actually shows the real side of cooking.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.