So, you know how the guests talk about delicious food and then we cut away to shots of that delicious food, all in the hopes of making you drool, faint, or die of hunger? Well, in order to get that reaction, we have to go on a series of “remotes” to the featured restaurants. Let me tell you, it’s a hard, delicious job talking to chefs, watching them cook, photographing the food, and then getting to eat that food, but hey, it’s all in the great name of public television.
Miller’s East Coast West Delicatessen on Polk was my first remote. At first I stayed out of the way as the camera and sound guys were maneuvering around the tight quarters of the fully-stocked and glistening food case and sizzling, odoriferous kitchen. However, during that down time, I picked up one of the greatest phrases. Randy, our stage manager, was sitting in on the remote, and we started talking about San Diego’s relative dearth of San Francisco-ish restaurants.
Sometimes you can come across some really great food in the strip malls that define certain neighborhoods — heck, Edo Sushi in UTC is worth getting on or off the 805 for — but more likely than not, you come across what Randy calls, “cheese sauce restaurants.” You know the kind, right? Not to name names, but they’re the types that think everything tastes better drenched in melted “cheese,” be it overcooked steak, fried chicken, shrimp, salmon, or doughnuts. I’m all for cheese, but not when it’s simply used to cover poorly prepared food.
ANYWAY, while “that’s definitely a cheese sauce restaurant” has now entered my foodie lexicon, it’s not necessarily on topic of the Miller’s remote.
I really loved this remote. Robby Morgenstein and all his staff were really great to work with and they kept me laughing and scribbling in my notebook all day. They also kept us fed, after a few shoots one of the cooks offered me and Wendy plates of cheesecake and stacks of sandwiches, commenting, “You’ve been working hard and not eating.” Sweet, huh? Also? Tasty. No need to worry about dinner after that remote.
The walls at Miller’s are liberally sprinkled with rotating artwork from regular customers, and there are also these dummied-up magazine covers, all of which feature local dogs — pets of customers and staff. The combo hoagies on the menu are all named for these neighborhood pooches with Robby’s own Jackson topping the list.
As the camera followed one of the cook-servers bringing a tray heavy with matzoh ball soup, thick sandwiches, and potato salad, the cook-server feigned nervousness and joked, “There’s water all over the floor right?” Another cook reminded him, “This is your money shot.” “I should’ve worn my black leather jacket,” the cook-server sighed regretfully.
As the time drew close for Robby’s interview, he fretted, “I quit smoking twenty-eight days ago and I’ve never wanted a cigarette more.” Some of the workers whipped out camera phones to take pictures of Robby’s nervousness. “I still have to decide who’s coming with me to Denver,” Robby warns, referring to an upcoming appearance on Food Network Challenge. That shut ’em up real quick.
For one of our final shots, an egg cream was masterfully produced. At least, this ignoramus thought it was masterful, but when I listened to the ribbing the egg cream maker took, I realized that it might not be so.
“He’s all bitter because his egg cream only had two layers.”
“He should be embarrassed, it should be THREE layers!”
Note to self: when making egg creams, layering, like with hair styles, is all good.