Behind-the-Scenes Slideshow Script

by Susie Heller, Producer of Jacques Pépin: Fast Food My Way

I'm Susie Heller, close friend of Jacques Pépin and Producer of Fast Food My Way. This show was a labor of love from beginning to end. This was Jacques 10th production with KQED and I celebrated my 100th show working with Jacques during this series.

Here is a behind-the-scenes account of what goes into putting on a 26-part series. Filming from a new set constructed at KQED's San Francisco studio required over six months of planning. From hardwood flooring to lighting it all went up in just four days. Our beautiful new set was designed by Timothy Guetzlaff and executed by Ron Haake.

It was important to us that Jacques felt at home on the set so our kitchen was fully functional and incorporated touches from his life. Beautiful equipment, from cooktop to cookware, from artisan ceramics to treasured antiques.

Jacques is an artist as well as a chef. A corner nook featured one of Jacques posters along with toys for his granddaughter Shorey, a black wooden cat that belonged to Julia Child and favorite photos from daughter Claudine's wedding and family vacations.

Along the refrigerator wall was more artwork of Jacques', borrowed from my home and by the back door some of his paint brushes and paints. His cookbooks and others by favorite authors were evident around the kitchen.

The dining room brought in touches of his love of the sea and of the east coast with seagulls and antique furniture.

Of course, Jacques had the perfect pantry stashed with everything you'd want for cooking and serving, including a wine cooler.

Early each production morning, two teams begin to converge. The back kitchen is well at work on the three shows of the day as the technical crew arrives and readies the four cameras they will use to shoot all angles in a single take.

Our back kitchen was headed by Jacques' best friend, an extraordinary chef, Jean Claude Szurdak who managed an amazing crew of six.

Jacques would check in each morning to be sure that all was well, discuss the preparations and answer any questions that the chefs might have.

Then Jacques was off to makeup and wardrobe for a few peaceful moments before the rush of the day.

Jacques would check over the "blocking," our production "bible" created by David Shalleck, our culinary producer who worked with me and with Jacques for several weeks outlining Jacques actions for each segment, including the food needs from the back kitchen which were organized on carts, prop needs for the finished dishes and equipment needs to make it all happen, in other words what everyone needed to know to be able to work as a team.

On set, David and the floor directors began to set up for Jacques. Normally three or four setups were called for around the set.

As Jacques arrives on the set, he begins to look everything over to be sure that he has what he needs.

He works with the floor directors who will be his link to the control room during the shoot.

If there are any changes to be made or last minute inspirations, Jacques turns to his culinary producer and the back kitchen to help achieve them.

I check with Jacques a final time as cameramen make final adjustments to the cameras and the track that one camera will slide on.

Just before shooting Jacques runs through the show segment for director Bruce Franchini and the cameramen. Bruce listens, and suggests movements that will work best for the cameras.

Bruce and I go into the control room with the other technicians and as the cameras focus on their shots, Bruce checks the monitors to be sure that they are positioned correctly and communicates to his cameramen through his headset.

Jacques has a final moment to collect his thoughts and then the shooting begins. Twenty-six shows in ten days, then the set was packed up and gone in just two days. After several months in post production and editing, we can all hardly wait to do it again!

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