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FRESH Ideas Turns 200

Christine Gardner filming FRESH Ideas at the FRESH Taste KitchenOn Tuesday, October 4, 2011, the very first FRESH Ideas aired on CBS19 News at 5:00. Has it really been that long? That means that every week, for more than 200 weeks, I have created a new recipe to share with viewers. Wow! That’s a whole lot of recipes and countless hours of cooking.

You might have also seen the segment during its reairing on Wednesdays during CBS19 News This Morning between 5:30am and 7pm. There are also the videos and recipes that can be found on and on our YouTube page.

The final result is what everyone gets to see on the air, but you wouldn’t believe all the work that goes on behind the scenes.
It takes a lot of planning, preparation and time to film each recipe. I work with the FRESH marketing team to decide what foods we should feature. We look at what’s in season, new products and popular food trends.

Also, certain times of the year call for particular recipes. September is back to school and settling into fall routines, so we try to feature simple, quick and healthy entrées. In summer, it’s all about grilling and fresh produce, while the holidays need to feature new ideas for entertaining.

Then, we need to consider the theme of the segment – FRESH Ideas. It’s important to challenge ourselves to put a fresh twist on each recipe, and to offer tips and ideas that are helpful, new and delicious.

Once we come up with a list of what to feature, then it’s up to me to create the recipes. That’s the fun and creative part. I often look to the store shelves for inspiration and try to think outside the box. For example, roasted chicken is a common dish, but what if it’s rubbed with pesto and butter as a seasoning. How different will that be than typical roasted chicken? The results were moist and delicious, and that recipe made it on the list.

We then schedule a shoot date with the CBS19 crew, and I begin gathering all of the ingredients for the recipes we will be taping. We tape 3 to 5 recipes at a time, depending on the amount of time each recipe will take to film.

On the day before the shoot, I am busy chopping and portioning all of the ingredients. If the recipe is for something that needs to be baked for longer than 20 minutes, then I will make a duplicate that can be shown as the final dish at the end of the segment.

This swap-out, as it is called in food television terms, saves us a lot of time on the set and allows me to demonstrate key parts of the preparation then show the final result. Of course, many things like sautéing shrimp or vegetables can be done quickly and will be cooked while taping, and the longer parts of the cooking time are condensed when the segment is edited.

When it comes to scripting the segment, the recipe and cooking technique are my guide. I will talk about the recipe, ingredients and directions as though I am showing someone how to do it in my own kitchen. There’s no teleprompter or cue cards. I’ve gotten used to remembering the important tips that need to be shared and talking through parts of the recipe as they happen during filming.

That’s where flexibility comes into play. Food is an unpredictable costar – just like what they say about filming with children or pets – you never know what’s going to happen. The pan may be too hot or not hot enough, things spill, other things take too long to pour, ingredients are too cold, blenders won’t turn on, meat sticks to the pan or, inevitably, something burns. Filming has all the same variables we deal with in our own kitchen, but at home, no one is watching. Cooking takes a sense of humor, especially when you do it on television.

Currently, we are counting down to number 200 on Tuesday, August 11. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been featuring some favorite FRESH Ideas recipes, and I have something special planned for 200. Be sure to watch and check the websites to see some of the favorites.

I remember when we filmed number 100 and what a milestone that felt like. I never imagined making it to 200. So, what’s next? The possibilities are as endless as the ingredients that are available. Trying new things and creating new flavors is fun, and the best part is sharing it with others.

One thing is for sure – we will continue to keep it FRESH!