I’ll be the first to admit I was hesitant when Matt Straus pitched a cooking show to my partner Jasmin Aldridge and I in early September. He told us he wanted to write and star in a cooking show revolving around a spice of the month. Though I am known to watch the Food Network in any spare moment I may have, I was nervous to actually film a show that revolved around the preparation and cooking of a meal. How is a cooking show filmed? What b-roll should we shoot? What should the set look like? There are many technical issues that could occur which became the root of my anxiety. However, after meeting with Matt and realizing how enthusiastic he was about this project, my fears instantly dissolved. A few days later I printed out a hard copy of the show’s script and knew that the show would turn out okay.

I left the script and meal preparation for Matt’s own development and I worked on all the other logistics. I found a location for the shoot in the kitchen of a friend’s house. After receiving the script, I went through it and looked for any continuity problems and made sure Matt’s show would be entertaining and never dull. I set up the shoot and was the main shooter. I was very happy when Jasmin showed up with a second camera.

In my opinion, though production elements are important in a show, the storyline is the driving force behind a show’s success. I felt Matt brought a good idea to the table and implemented his cooking skills properly into the show. Viewers are actually able to learn cooking techniques just by watching the segment. This show has the potential to help teach undergraduate students the cooking skills they will need once they are out in the “real world.” He also presents his meals in a fun and classy way, so even students who are looking for ways to entertain their friends while in college can do that as well. The show has the potential to appeal to all ages and to people at all cooking levels.

Episode 1 of “Matt Straus is…The Spice Smuggler” was a learning process for us all. I now know I need to use stable shots and more b-roll would enhance the show. For example, when shooting the food in its finished form I will aim to have a zoom on the image and a solid background so that it can be used anywhere in the show. I also want to show all the ingredients at the start of the show, if possible. I found little editing errors in the final product which I will learn from as well. However, overall I am satisfied with Episode 1 and I look forward to producing the next episode.

What’s next? I plan to promote his show through Facebook events, twitter postings and premiere episode parties. Matt hosted the first episode premiere party and I plan on hosting the next. At these events Matt will make sample dishes for attendees to try and to hopefully be inspired to make their own meals after watching the show! I also hope to have Matt try some vegetarian dishes for the growing population of vegetarians that are making their way on Duke’s campus. We are aiming to shoot at least one episode per month and will feature a new spice on each show! The next spice is a secret so keep checking back here and on Facebook to see what Matt smuggles next!

Want to watch the first episode? Check it out BELOW:

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