Ever wonder what it’s like to be an ‘Executive Chef’? Me neither, but when the suits insisted that I find out, I ran from the newsroom before they could changed their minds. After all, they could have said ‘Toenail Curator’, or ‘Llama Jockey’ or ‘Septic Tank Specialist’. That would really sucked, as the bosses wanted me to wrap an entire reality show around said profession. Okay, so ‘reality show’ may be a stretch, but a fifteen minute chunk of reporter-free TV was going to take a lot more focus than the kind of slapdash minute and a half I usually fill. Luckily, the grown-ups found a most excellent specimen in one Leigh Hesling. A culinary journeyman with down-under roots , Chef Hesling came complete with an army of underlings, his very own catch-phrase (“Loife changing stuff!”) and two of the most tricked-out kitchens in the Greater Piedmont Googolpex.
When it comes to photog-friendly environments, I’d rank restaurant kitchens somewhere between daycare playground and helicopter cockpit. They’re just too many sharp edges and slippery floors, not to mention a platoon of beefy dudes in funny hats who will gladly body-check you into the nearest fry vat, should you get between them and their tub of mushroom truffles. Speaking of scalding cauldrons, I’d rather soak my frontal lobe in a red hot crock-pot than ingest one more frame of culinary wonderment. Maybe that’s because I’ve spent so much time locked in an antechamber, stewing in my own juices as visions of twice baked souffles danced across multiple screens. The resulting piece ain’t exactly news, but neither were the past six imperiled animal epics I slammed together. At least THIS shoot came with a handful of jumbo shrimp!
(Wrapped in bacon, no less.)