Chef Back Burner Chats With Andy.
Chef Back Burner invited Andy Cohen, Bravo's Senior Vice President of Production and Programming to drop by the kitchen.
Chef Back Burner - Hi Andy, we were hoping that as we near the end of this unpredictable second season of TOP CHEF you would be so kind as to take some time to answer questions that have been on our and our reader's minds.
So I'll just jump right in... Having worked for CBS and TRIO, how does working for BRAVO compare?
Andy- It doesn't compare. CBS was news and TRIO was more laid back and eclectic. It has been a completely exciting ride getting to work on some of my favorite shows.
CBB- They seem open to creativity, but many of the shows are turning from the Arts more towards Entertainment. How do you feel about that?
Andy- I think that Bravo peels the layers off the creative process in a way that no other cable channel does, and I think that our shows represent what's out there in the culture at large. We are an expression of arts and culture in an accessible way that people connect with.
CBB-Personalities this season seem volatile, have there been situations with the contestants where production needed to step in to stop something before it started?
Andy- We haven't been in a position where we have had to step into a situation and stop it from happening. As soon as we found out what happened in last week's episode (which the chefs shot themselves with a camera they'd asked for) we took matters into our hands and eliminated Cliff for his actions.
CBB-I thought actors where hard to deal with but it looks like you've had your hands full. List these in order of easy to hard....fashion designers, chefs, hairstylists, interior designers. Why?
Andy- All creative people have very colorful personalities and are different to deal with - but we love them for their unique sensibilities and personalities, and that's what makes them fun to work with.
CBB-How involved are you in the choosing of contestants for shows?
Andy- We have fantastic casting directors who whittle down the choices to about 40 people. At that point, bravo gets involved and decides which 30 or so to fly to LA and meet with. Then we pick the rest with the producers.
CBB-When you have two potential contestants who are equal in skill and personality, what is it about them that makes that final decision for you?
Andy- If they are equal, it becomes about the mix and how they will fit into the larger group of suggestions.
CBB-Are you often on site during shooting? And if you are, when you enter a room are people happy to see you or do they fear your presence, like "Uh-oh, Andy's here. Something must be wrong."?
Andy- Yes I am in and out. When I am onset I try to stay away from the contestants but will invariably wind up getting in a shot or telling someone something that I shouldn’t or pissing off Shauna, Dan or Jane. But everyone puts up with me very kindly, to my face.
CBB-Who gets the leftovers?
Andy- I think by the time they're ready to be eaten they've been sitting out for too long.
CBB-Speaking of leftovers, what was your favorite episode?
Andy- The color quickfire and Debi Mazur's seven deadly sins.
CBB-Did you have a favorite chef or chefs this season?
Andy- They are all fantastic.
CBB-Having worked in the events side of the entertainment world I know it’s a time consuming business. Do you ever get the time to relax in front an episode of Top Chef? When you do what gourmet snacks do you like to chomp on? And your drink of choice?
Andy- It's fun watching an episode with others who are into the show, but if I am alone I start stressing about work stuff. I love dark chocolate - I am a complete addict. My drink of choice is either a mandarin with club soda or a whiskey and ginger ale.
CBB -So, do you enjoy cooking/baking? If so, what would you say was your signature dish?
Andy- I suck at cooking. To be fair, I have not applied myself. I need cooking lessons.
CBB-Realizing that you are a very busy person, do you get a chance to read some of the blogs about the show or the Bravo Boards at all?
Andy -I read some of the blogs, all of the postings on my blog, and occasionally look at the bravo boards. I am excited about "watch what happens" because it gives us an opportunity to interact with fans of the show live right after the episode ends. We're live this week with tom c. And an eliminated chef.
CBB-How much does audience feedback and ratings affect the production of the following season?
Andy- We try to go with what we know.
CBB - Now to Ted Allen. As we saw through comments on our blog, the episodes that featured Ted Allen as a judge really drew people in. Posts like..."The only bright spot has been Ted Allen having been on a few times this year." and "He [Ted Allen] is all class and an excellent, eminently qualified judge. Plus, he understands how to articulate his thoughts so that we mere mortals can understand." have littered our blog, so much so that we were inspired to take up a petition to have him as a mentor...although we'll take him any way we can get him judge, host, friend, etc. Is this something you are/would consider since he has been the choice "stand-in" this season?
Andy -We love Ted and would love to work with him again. I wrote a blog about why I don't think we need a mentor, and I can't imagine that happening.
CBB-Finally, you know how the season end, any surprises or ground breaking recipes we should look forward to and you can share?
Andy- Not that I will share now!
CBB- You can check out our petition at www.petitionspot.com/petitions/tcmentor/ Again, thank you so much for you time. We truly appreciate it. Oh and before I go, we just wanted to let you know we are also covering Top Design. So please, if you get a chance, stop by over the course of season one and let us know what you think.
Andy- Great! You are going to love the show!!! Let us know what you think and be sure to watch "Watch What Happens" live at 11 on Wednesdays on Bravotv.com!