Well maybe not so much.
The video crew arrived at my house around 10 AM. They were 30 minutes late and normally I wouldn’t care except that CLP had sent out a notice that they were doing electrical work in the village and all power would be cut by 2 PM. Actually the three crew members arrived and the show’s hostess and while they got to work setting up the equipment, she settled into a chair and pulled out the latest fashion and gossip magazines. I was hoping she would go over the show with me but it turns out that’s not her job – she’s a young (and of course pretty) university student who does this in her spare time. Of course my dogs weren’t about to let her just sit there and read; they charmed her and pretty soon she’d given them most of the salad and sausage bun she’d brought along for breakfast.
The director showed up around 11 and asked me what I was cooking. Apparently the person in their office whom I’d been communicating with hadn’t told them much. When I explained that my main dish was going to be a simple steak, the director told me that they’d had someone cook a steak the week before and could I do something else? Well, I’d given them the list of ingredients I needed and that’s what they had brought along so we looked at it for a few minutes and the director asked if I could make some sort of pepper steak. Fortunately, that’s something I used to cook years ago and remembered how to do it so I agreed. Along with that, I have my own take on roast potatoes that I made and also a basic salad, the twist being that I make my own dressing from scratch.
We spent about 2 hours taping the 11 minute cooking segment. The hostess wanted to take part in the preparation and she had zero knife skills – I tried to show her a better way but she wasn’t really picking up on it. Anyway, the three dishes all came out edible (and actually, of all the times I’ve made my own salad dressing, this time was the best result I’d ever had).
(For those who are curious … took two small steaks, brushed some oil on them, coated with coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper, sliced into small strips. Smashed a couple of cloves of garlic; sliced an onion and a red and a yellow pepper. Stir fried in a wok (a bit more salt and pepper added to the veggies at that point) and had I thought about it more, I might have added some Tabasco or chili to spice things up. For the potatoes, I cut them into medium size pieces, coated them with a mixture of salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary, drizzled just a tiny bit of oil on them and then let them roast in the oven for 45 minutes – they come out tasting like french fries but with a fraction of the oil and much more flavor. The salad dressing was a basic mix of oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, sugar, oregano, basil and garlic.)
The hostess turned out to be a terrific actress – she said she actually enjoyed all three dishes and started doing that high pitched squealy thing that I’ve seen on all the other Cantonese cooking shows when they’re trying to show how much they like the food. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “this is just like on TV. Oh, wait, it IS TV!”
When it came time for the sit down interview segment, they set up a table out on my patio, with the great view of the Sai Kung sea behind us. The hostess hadn’t told me what questions she would ask in advance and many of them led me into areas that were probably more political than they should be for a show like this. What changes would I like to see in Hong Kong? Democracy. What changes have I seen in the past 12 years? Worse air pollution, more power in the hands of the major real estate developers, greater gap between the rich and poor. I guess they’ll fix that in post-production.
Then we shot some cut-aways and reaction shots and my dogs got to be in those shots. For some, they were just filming the hostess re-asking the questions. “You’re not going to use my answers, right? You just need her audio?” Right. So this time – What don’t you like about Hong Kong? “The porn in Japan is much better.” Could you compare the IT scene in the US to Hong Kong? “Sure. A priest, a rabbi and a monk walk into a bar. The bartender says, what is this, some kind of joke?” Stuff like that. She said I was torturing her!
They were about 90% finished when the power got cut. Fortunately, we were filming outside at this point, so even though the lights were no longer working they were able to position a couple of reflectors around to deal with the shadows and we got everything done.
I forgot to ask when this will actually air! I don’t have any HD channels so I can’t watch it, but they promised to burn a DVD for me.
Overall, I had fun. It’s not a big deal really; I’m just making it into one because I don’t get to do stuff like this every day. I have to give thanks to my buddy @HyperCasey who introduced me to the producers – check out his blog Fist of Fun; he’s also a contributor to and editor for the NeonPunch blog.