What its like being a small part of a food TV show: You Gotta Eat Here (Longtail Kitchen Episode)

You know I go on and on and on and on and on about how good Longtail Kitchen in New West is. They just won a VanMag silver award for Best Thai! Anyways, they’re going to be featured on the Food Network Canada show “You Gotta Eat Here!” (Season 4 Episode 15 — airs May 8) and we were invited to the taping last November.

When I wasn’t being all nervous with sweaty pits, I snuck a few pics…

Disclaimer: We were invited to this taping as longtime (heh) customers of Longtail. We didn’t have to pay for any of our food, but then we didn’t get to choose what food we got. And I didn’t get to drink any beer cuz the kegerator wasn’t operating that day 🙁 We have no connection to Longtail other than being regulars and on friendly terms with the chef and staff. We were not paid for participating nor were we coached or told what to say. If this is the extent of me “selling out” as a food blogger, I’m happy with it.

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When you watch food shows like this on TV, it LOOKS like they just drop in to the restaurant for a couple hours and shoot things as they happen naturally. Well, NO. That’s totally not how it happens…at least with shows like this one. This was actually Day 2 of shooting. The previous day was spent with basically an empty restaurant where they shot the scenes where the host interviews the chef and cooks something with him.

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We came in for the second day of shooting where they do “people eating”-type stuff. Nice little notice. You’re basically signing away the rights to use your image forever by stepping foot into the restaurant.

It’s funny how 2 days of shooting result in a mere 7 minutes of television. You Gotta Eat Here features 3 restaurants per episode, so in a ~21 minute program each place gets less than 7 minutes of content once you factor in intros, bumpers, teasers…

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Probably what you’d expect…lights and crew. In this photo, this person is prepping for her on-camera interview. She nailed it.

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Chef Alex Tung doing an interview with the host, John Catucci. Justin (the chef at Longtail Kitchen) used to work for Alex. The people in the room were a mix of friends and random people who work nearby (yes, it got to a point where they had to pull people in just to fill seats). It’s all partly “set up” and partly not “set up”. Everything happens so fast too. The host chatted with us a few times and was super nice. He’s totally relaxed and a natural on-camera. I admire people who can do that. It’s not for me, but it’s sort of what it takes to make good television. I’m just glad there’s another outlet for writing and talking about food (like food blogs etc) so you don’t ONLY get the story that gets shown on TV.

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Case in point. We didn’t expect to be interviewed on camera, but the director woman came up to us and said “ok, you’re gonna do the khao soi noodles” etc. I blubbered to myself, “ok this is happening we’re gonna be on tv omg omg what the hell are khao soi noodles.” We didn’t even get to order whatever we wanted. They had a list of dishes that they had to “cover” and they more or less assigned them to us.

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It’s super hard to act natural with a camera on you. I’m so sorry Wicca for aiming my camera at you as you chow down.

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They really get in there to get all those shots you take for granted on TV.

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Here’s Justin the chef, in a “scene” of him serving food. He cooked this food fresh just moments before. Everything is a strange mix of real, spontaneous, arbitrary, and set-up. That said, the crew have done HUNDREDS of shoots like this at different restaurants, and they all follow the same basic formula. Interview with the chef, cooking demo with the chef, shots of people eating, interviews with customers, etc.

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Longtail has one condiment station now, instead of several scattered around the restaurant. Better system this way, I think! Food in Thailand is actually a “customize it to your taste” sorta thing. You want it spicer? Add more chili flakes or chili oil. Want it saltier? Add fish sauce! Etc, etc…

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Guy next to us had the tumeric curry mussels. They’re so plump, juicy and fresh.

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My “assigned dish” was the khao soi noodles. A Chiang Mai dish that uses heartier egg noodles plus crispy fried noodles on top. Stewed falling-off-the-bone chicken in a savoury rich gravy-like curry. Counterpoints of acid from the fresh lime wedge that you sqeeze on top, plus pickled mustard greens. It was freakin’ COLD in the restaurant today, and I was shivering like HELL, so it was good to get some warm food into me.

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Fabulous and famous chicken wings. To nervous and freaked to enjoy them fully though 😛

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Hot ‘n sour coconut mushroom soup. I had some and it was so good. Coconutty but not overly creamy. Just a ton of different flavours going on, so it never gets sickly with the cream.

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I like the papaya salad there too.

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Wicca mic’d up for her interview. I think she did an awesome job on-camera. She thinks she talked way too fast about nothing, but I was smiling huge as I was listening to what she was saying…it was just her regular self talking about food in that passionate way.

I had a few pauses and mind blanks during my interview, but I hope they use the part where I talked about how “Longtail is a gem of New West”, cuz I think it is.

I really don’t know if we’ll make the “final cut” but it was a fun experience!


The Longtail Kitchen episode of You Gotta Eat Here airs May 8, 2015 on Food Network Canada and will be available to watch online after it airs.

Side note: you might even see Ed Eats in this episode when it airs 😉

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