School may cook up a TV hit
Egg whites, marinara, action!
The Cooking School of Aspen turned into a television set yesterday evening for the filming of a “Kids Are Cooking” pilot which the show’s producer hopes to syndicate internationally.
The chef-teachers at the Cooking School, owner Rob Seideman and Katie Leonaitis, taught a dozen youngsters in a course titled “Make a Pig of Yourself,” a holiday cooking-themed class that is one of 50 or so they offer for kids each week.
And though Rob and Katie had taught the same class before, last night was different. The duo rehearsed their lesson plans more than usual, splashed on a little makeup, and gulped strong Cafe Ink concoctions to appease the butterflies inside, and with good reason.
Aside from the 12 pairs of young eyes trained on them, several cameras positioned inside the cozy kitchen-classroom were poised to catch every baking moment.
“Who made a pig of themselves on Thanksgiving?” Seideman asked his pint-sized charges, most of whom responded in the affirmative with a raised hand. “Well, that’s what we’re going to do again tonight.”
Seideman went on to describe the evening’s menu – Asian barbecued pork chops, roasted ham and Christmas cookies, among other delights – and the steps they would follow together to make the menu into a meal, while sporadically asking the children for input.
The result was Mr. Wizard meets Paul Prudhomme: a spontaneous, ad lib spectacle showcasing the wonders of cooking, as seen through young eyes.
“It’s all new to the kids,” Seideman said. “The energy that they bring to the classroom, that’s what we want to come out through the show.”
The youngsters are not actors (though many said they aspire to be), most are elementary and middle school students in Aspen.
“I would say black olives are my favorite food,” said 10-year-old Reid Whitney, an Aspen Middle School fifth-grader, before class, “because you can make ’em into freaky fingernails.”
“My favorite thing to cook is pancakes,” said 8-year-old Scott Lacy. “I know how to make ’em by heart, and I just accomplished flipping ’em in the pan by myself.”
Producer Lee Gluckman, president of the Los Angeles-based Producers Group, Ltd., the company that is co-producing the pilot along with Newland-Raynor Productions, Inc., envisions “Kids Are Cooking” filling a Saturday morning slot.
The two-hour classes will be edited down to fill a half-hour spot, and hopefully, “sold to cable and network stations in the U.S. and overseas; Australia, Italy and England are anxiously awaiting it,” Gluckman said.
And if the pilot is picked up, Gluckman aims to keep production in Aspen.
“This is something I’ve been working on for 20 years, it’s just recently that I’ve found the right combination, right here,” he said.
“It’s Rob and Katie’s hard work that will make it work,” he continued. “And it’s got to be spontaneous; it’s got to be what kids are about today.”
For 10-year-old Dillon Morehead, the class may help launch his future, part-time career.
“I’m gonna be like half-professional cook, half-professional sports player, either football or baseball,” he said.
His favorite baseball player? “Piazza,” he replied. Coincidence?
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