Behind the Scenes: ‘Cooking with Class’

Johnson & Wales chefs Kevin Crawley + Frank Terranova get ready to film a “Cooking with Class” segment
Johnson & Wales chefs Kevin Crawley + Frank Terranova get ready to film a “Cooking with Class” segment.

The magic of TV editing makes everything — even cooking shows and competitions like “Top Chef” — look easy. But the reality is that it takes a huge team to bring even 90 seconds of food TV to your screen.

To understand how it all comes together, we went behind the scenes of “Cooking with Class,” a cooking segment starring Chef Frank Terranova and airing on WJAR NBC-10.

3 Hours = 3 Weeks of “Cooking with Class”
Chef Terranova teaches advanced culinary classes at JWU’s College of Culinary Arts — and he’s been filming “Cooking with Class” for 18 years. “It feels like yesterday,” he quips.

Friday is shoot day. The plan is to whip through 15 segments in 3 hours. Today’s shoot is largely focused on heart-healthy recipes for American Heart Month.

The week of heart-healthy recipes is designed to emphasize the university’s forward-thinking approach to nutrition and public health — as well as to showcase low-fat, veggie-forward recipes. (Read all about JWU’s Wellness & Sustainability elective.)

They call me KMC One-Take.” “Is that your rap name? Do you only do food-themed raps?”
WJAR Channel 10 camera, ready to film
Ready, set, film! Channel 10’s camera, ready to go.

Cooking with Choreography
Guest chef Kevin Crawley is a registered dietitian with plenty of on-air experience, most notably “Food Network Challenge.”

“They call me KMC One-Take,” he deadpans as he and Chef Terranova run through their shoot list.

“Is that your rap name? Do you only do food-themed raps?”

He laughs. “I can’t rhyme AT ALL.”

While the chefs get ready, JWU PR coordinator Maddy Parmenter helps Steve, WJAR cameraman/editor, set up his shots.

Shooting 90-second recipe segments leaves no room for error. The chefs need to fast-forward through key ingredients, prep techniques and cooking times before presenting — ta-da! — the finished dish.

Since they’re talking up American Heart Month, they also need to:

  • Talk up heart-healthy ingredients
  • Discuss the dish’s nutritional benefits
  • Finish with the “Now that’s cooking with class!” flourish

It’s a lot to juggle, but Maddy is there to give them cues and keep the segment moving along — essentially, to ensure they stick their landing.

Every ingredient used on air needs to be prepped. That’s roughly 225 ingredients — but the culinary students helping out aren’t sweating it.
15 recipes averaging 15 ingredients = a whole lotta prep.

Prep: It’s a Team Effort
Backstage, Terranova’s team of students receive the 15 recipes they need to prep on Thursday. Now, just before filming, they’re checking off last-minute changes and making sure everything is camera-ready.

  • 15 recipes averaging 15 ingredients each = roughly 225 ingredients + 225 bowls.
  • Every single raw ingredient is prepped according to the recipe — chopped; cubed; grated, etc.— and placed into clear glass bowls for presentation purposes.
  • Herbs need to be chopped as close to filming as possible, so they’re not wilted.

But the students aren’t sweating it. They’re focused but relaxed as they finish up their to-do lists. Team leader Nick Sclafani is ready to expedite each segment’s food to the chefs when they’re ready.

Chefs Terranova + Crawley get ready to film a segment.
Chefs Terranova + Crawley get ready to film a segment.

Ready, Set, Film!
Chefs Crawley and Terranova quickly run through the points they want to hit with each segment:

“With the addition of protein protein powder, this smoothie is a complete meal replacement.”

“Farro is an ancient grain that’s high in fiber and has a slow-burning glycemic index.”

Now they’re ready. Maddy grabs a dry-erase board and writes the first recipe: Mean Green Smoothie.

There’s a brief snag when the pre-made smoothie is deemed not-ready-for-prime-time; Nick runs back to the kitchen and whips up a fresh one. (Greens tend to fade the longer they sit; the new one is a bright emerald green.)

Fresh smoothie in hand, the chefs are ready to rock and roll.

Cooking with Class recipes
All the recipes to run through in a single marathon session.