authors include a food reference in their books and that mention alone
could be all it takes to get the interest of a TV producer for an
in-studio cooking segment on TV. If you can demonstrate that dish in a fun
way then you've got another way to get publicity for your book.
Of course cook book authors have an advantage over
traditional authors because they can go after a TV appearance because
their entire book is about food.
Since a lot of things can go wrong on a live in-studio cooking demo, here
are some tips to ensure that your cooking segment is great.
First of all find out how much time you have to
work with. There's a big difference between a 2½ minute segment and 3½ minutes. My advice is to plan on a
2½ minute segment. Determine what
can you do in that time period and plan accordingly. Anticipate and have
strategies to deal with interruptions. Practice by setting up a camera in
your kitchen so you can film and time your process.
Don't do excessive amounts of talking during the segment.
You are there to demonstrate how to prepare a certain dish and that's
what your audience and host expect of you. So keep the words down.
Remember that there are three groups that you need
to satisfy: the producer, the audience, and yourself. The producers are
looking for interesting/compelling television; your job is to make them
look great. The audience wants to learn something. What's their
takeaway? What will you do to make their lives better?
Among your goals is
to point people to your website. A great way is to offer a free item like
a recipe or appetizer in your restaurant. Once they sign up for the free
item, use their email address for future marketing.
It's very important to find out in advance about
the capabilities of the studio kitchen. Some studio kitchens look good on
TV but the stove may not even be hooked up! Come with a prepared cooked
version of your dish that can be displayed ahead of time and have another
ready for the demonstration.
It's always a good idea to bring some extra
samples for the crew. I've never seen them turn down food!Outdoor segments, such as barbequing,
really go well in the summer because that's what audience members do in
the summer. For the fall, a Tailgate segment is great.
Here are some Practical Tips for a Great Cooking
·The camera loves
food that sizzles, bubbles, and flames. Keep that in mind when selecting
the dish you will prepare. Can your dish be prepared and plated in the
allotted time? Pre-cook the dish halfway if necessary to meet the time
·If there are promotional
screen graphics provide the producer with the information several days
before the shoot.
· Make a packing
list of all the gear you need to cook off premise. Double-check your list
and pack efficiently. Arrive at the studio 45 minutes before air time.
Bring a cart to transport your gear and ingredients from the car to the
studio quickly and efficiently.
·The camera loves
color so bring some colorful ingredients as well as a seasonal table
· Upon first
arriving at the cooking set, check all burners to make sure they work.
· Be set up 15
minutes before air time. Walk in front of the cooking table and scan what
the camera will record. Is the tablecloth on straight? Are all ingredient
labels faced outward? Are the ingredients balanced in uniform fashion?
· Provide the host
with a list of suggested questions. This will help the host stay focused
and on track and will help prevent any ringers from being thrown your way.
· Always refer to
the host by name. Make direct eye contact and smile.
· Go with the flow.
Some hosts will ask distracting, non-relevant questions so have a plan to
deal with that possibility.
Jess Todtfeld, former FOX
News producer and President of
Success in Media,
provides a list of suggestions to help deliver a great cooking segment:
· Don't expect
the studio to have a stylist for you. You must take the necessary steps
beforehand so you look as beautiful as you are and so your segment is
great from beginning to end.
· Bring all the
ingredients, tools for preparing, and a finished version of your dish.
Don't expect to really cook it during the segment.
· Bring extra
finished food for the crew. The quickest way to their hearts is through
their stomachs. It will be worth every penny in materials when they decide
to book you again.
· Have your entire
segment planned out from A to Z to make the producers' life easy. That,
in turn, will make them love you and book you again.
· It's not all
about the food. Be fun. Show your personality.
· Give a copy of
the recipe and let them know they can place it on the station's website.
· Days before the
segment ask if they can prepare a 'for more
information' graphic for
the lower third of the screen that will display
your website address so
people can find you after the show. It's a
pretty standard practice but
if you don't ask they might forget.
· Have something
free on your website to plug, such as five of your most requested low-cal
recipes or a chapter of your book. Be able to monetize the value of your
Make sure all the vegetables and cuts of meat are
fresh and will appear appetizing. Place them in clear glass dishes along
with pre-measured spices. There's only so much you can prep ahead of
time; some things need to be done in the studio.
With HD cameras viewers can see everything from
water spots on your glass ware to fingernails in need of a manicure and a
five o'clock shadow. What may be acceptable in your kitchen may not play
well on TV so be keenly aware of your appearance.
A great cooking segment will produce hundreds if
not thousands of new diners, book sales and recipe downloads. It's all
possible with planning, preparation and effort. Your success will be
assured if you engage the services of a professional media trainer and
marketing professional and practice your demo again and again.
TV Cooking Segments Gone Wild!
Just for fun, if you'd
like to see how a lack of preparation can lead to disaster then you'll
want to see these videos I've uncovered. The first disaster occurs
because the chef did not anticipate that the two co-hosts, Kathie Lee and
Hoda, would do a lot of distractive talking while he was trying to prepare
food and he had no strategy to deal with the distraction. Take a look:
In the second video things
go totally awry because Paula Dean does not take charge and gives a free
hand to Al Roker and creates a massive time crunch
bottom line: Great food and a great
cooking segment on TV is no accident; it's all in the preparation. Good
Bonus tip: Even if you don't have a cook book but
there is a food reference or food theme in your book, you too can consider
doing a food segment on TV.
Scott Lorenz is President of
a public relations
and marketing firm. Lorenz works with doctors,
lawyers, inventors, authors, start-ups and entrepreneurs. As a book
marketing expert Lorenz is retained by top execs and bestselling