You know that I love people who do their own cooking shows from the comfort of their homes. It's part of the greatness of the whole Interweb thingy. People can make their very own television show in their kitchen. That's awesome. I've mentioned Deglazing and Genève's Kitchen, both of which have been on a little hiatus, but for good reason. Nicky's building a house and Genève quit her job and enrolled in culinary school. Congratulations to both of them!
Now, we can add another TV superstar-in-the-making with Lauren (www.ellemichelle.com), whose College Bites series is getting all kinds of notoriety at her school, the University of Florida. And for good reason. Lauren has come up with a show that speaks directly to her college-aged audience. As her website says:
College Bites is a show that aims to teach college students how to become kitchen experts. Viewers will learn everything from grocery shopping to cooking to cleaning up. Forget eating pizza or Ramen noodles each night, follow Lauren's tips and become a culinary genius!
It wasn't that long ago that I was a college student, so I remember the campus culinary situation pretty well. It's not a pretty sight. I was actually an on-campus student my entire time, so I didn't do much cooking for myself, thanks to the mandatory meal plan. But I know plenty of people who lived off campus and the dining adventures at their places weren't much healthier or better than the fast food quality served in campus dining halls. And that's where Lauren comes in.
Her videos are chock full of energy, with great tips for budget conscious shoppers and an eye for recipes that require a minimum of fancy equipment. And she's not just producing the videos. She's also conducting in-person cooking seminars for other students at the U of F. Oh, and she's also going to be writing a column with food tips for the Gainsville Sun this fall. This is an enterprising young lady!
Not surprisingly, Lauren gets quite a bit of enjoyment and inspiration from watching food on television. She was nice enough to answer a couple of questions for us, so we'd like to now present the TVFF Mini-Interview with Lauren of College Bites:
TV Food Fan: How did you become interested in food TV?
Lauren: I've always loved cooking, even as a little girl. I used to try and mix flour with all different liquids to make dough and I usually ended up with a mess. As I got older, I really honed in on my cooking abilities and took them all to college with me. I never had the Food Network until I was 14 or 15. I used to get my food fix through Julia Child on PBS, the Two Fat Ladies and cooking infomercials. I used to watch the same infomercials over and over again. I never bought anything except for the Rocket Chef which spawned a series of interesting events, that I could talk about forever. Long story short, I would convince my cousins to go on ridiculously long walks with me over the summer to different grocery stores so that I could buy stuff to make in it. Something always went wrong, such as torrential rain downpours. The first show I remember on the Food Network was Doorknock Dinners with Gordon Elliot and Paula Deen. I would love to bring that show back but visit different colleges and try and cook with what the students had in their pantries. Anyway, when I came to school I tried to cook as much as possible and would watch my friends and roommates order all sorts of unhealthy take out foods. I cooked for them as much as our schedules would allow but when I wasn't around, Dominos was their next of kin. This past December while in DC, I went to Warren Brown's bakery and he happened to be there. I told him all about my idea for a show for college students and he told me that I should do it myself. It had never occurred to me to film it on my own. The next day I went out and charged a video camera to my credit card and the rest is history. I love that I am able to reach out to people, not just students, who want to learn more about the kitchen. My goal with a TV show is to help out and educate as many people as I can, I feel this is my calling. But I am still getting my engineering degree and have an almost perfect GPA!TVFF: Which food TV personalities influence your cooking?
L: If I had to pick three, I would say Dave Lieberman, Alton Brown and Ina Garten. I know this is a wide spread but I take a little from each of them. From Dave, I learn the cheaper is better philosophy. I love to watch him get excited over the affordability of canned beans! From Alton, I learn all of the important facts about ingredients. This helps me come up with new recipes and find different ways to use the same ingredient. From Ina, I learn all about indulgence. She really enjoys every moment of life and never skimps out on her recipes. I try to find the ways I can modify her luxurious ingredients into easy applications for those on a budget. You don't have to be a Hampton's Socialite to eat like one, right??TVFF: Which food TV personalities influence your videos?
L: Gosh, asking that is like trying to pick your favorite M&M color. They are all so influential in different ways. Now that I film my own show, I watch every single detail in all of the Food Network shows. I study the camera angles, gestures and even the hosts' outfit. I love the way Giada is so personable in front of the camera and her great smile. I also love Paula's infectious laugh. If I can be half as successful as those two inspiring women, I will be more than happy! I think you really have to sell the person on who you are if you want them to try and make your recipes. I have so much fun when I am filming and I hope this shows in my presentation!