It would not be an exaggeration to say that the production of the online video was the most intense 3 days of my life. This was in good part because I wanted to make the most of this golden opportunity to show what is impossible to describe as effectively in any other medium. After spending months in advance planning of techniques, recipes, ingredients, and equipment, I compiled a vastly over-ambitious list of what I wanted to present. Christina Zwicky who orchestrated the whole production encouraged me to go for it and amazingly we didn't have to cut much. None of what we cut was essential, for example, the angel food cake which was already taped at the NYU demo and available through the blog thanks to Hector. We had the most wonderful crew, both for the production itself and for makeup, food prep and styling, and equipment organization. Melissa Martin is a London trained makeup artist and she took me at my word that I wanted to look like me and not some made-up Hollywood Star. Nancy who was in charge of getting all the equipment set up for each take also sat in on the filming and as a knowledgeable food person she caught every little thing that didn't precisely reflect what she knew I wanted to convey. She started off by assuring me that she was well-organized and had to be as a mother of four children she home-schools! She lives 60 miles from General Mills and needed to leave her home at 5 a.m. each day but never looked anything but calm and alert. But I couldn't have carried off the whole thing without Woody who lives not far from General Mills. He is so familiar with all my recipes and equipment he was able to oversee production and fix any glitches. He also built me a 7 foot platform so that the work counter would be at the right height for my 5 feet 3 inches plus Chefwear clogs.
Day 1 was organization and prep. Day 2 and 3 were filming. It's difficult to describe the level of focus required but let me try. The challenge is having to look happy, competent, relaxed, and knowledgeable while making sure all the ingredients and equipment are in place and that the words coming out of my mouth reflected how they started off in my brain. (Unless you've tried this you'd be surprised how they can change en route.) So the inherent contradiction is having to look relaxed in a situation that is anything but and knowing that if you mess up there may be no chance to redo if you don't have a second third or 4th cake adds to the pressure. By the third day I wished we had a fourth because we all started working together in beautiful harmony and I was beginning to enjoy myself. Our final take was the spun sugar which I saved for the end in the event that it messed up the set and landed on the camera lens. Luckily the rain stopped, the humidity decreased significantly, and Woody came rushing from the prep kitchen with caramel at the perfect stage for spinning. It was a magical finale. I will miss being at General Mills and passing my favorite sculpture of Cheerios. In winter when the snow falls they resemble sugar frosted doughnuts! I didn't realize how exhausted I was until the next morning taking a 7 am plane back to NY. I slept a good part of the weekend and then readied myself for the all important final planning meeting for the rest of the book photography around which I had planned the entire summer. Elliott had rearranged his vacation schedule and Woody had purchased his plane ticket so that he could be photographed for the book and experience a few days of cake photography. To my total shock and dismay, due to an unforeseen happenstance for one of the key players, all was postponed until the beginning of Sept. which was to be my third week of book galley review . That saying about the course of true love never running smooth could easily be applied to book production. Certainly I love this book and despite the hurdles and challenges or maybe even because of them, I'm confident that it will be my best and most beautiful one yet.