Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hungry For More? Food. Curated Season 2 Premieres Thursday, August 11th

If you’re reading this, it’s a sure bet that Food and Drink are passions to be embraced at every chance possible. It’s a kinetic world of unbridled creativity, delicious, ever-changing choices that kiss the seasons and mirror a neighborhood's food style and culture. 

Liza de Guia, Founder/Chief Storyteller, Food. Curated, NYC life
For the truly food-obsessed, there is “Food. Curated,” hosted by the irrepressible, curious, food lover, story teller, host and good-food sherpa, Liza de Guia.  
The new season premieres Thursday, August 11 at 9pm on NYC life (Channel 25). 

Liza’s insatiable inquisitiveness about where food comes from and how good food gets made, is what makes the compelling stories in her food-focused series all the more unique.  
“I love telling stories, “ she says with authentic, unbridled enthusiasm.  
It shows.

NYC life, the “flagship channel of the NYC Media network” recently held a premiere event at Tavern on the Green, offering a sneak preview of the new season’s episodes. 
It was a perfect evening for an outdoor media event – a little like an old fashioned drive-in movie (no pajamas, though).    
 There was great seating, plenty of distinctive cuisines provided by NYC Food Trucks including Van Leeuwen ice cream (www.vanleeuwenicecream.com), who, along with the premiere episode’s food artisans, are among the “food elite” beguiling enough to have captured Liza’s eye and featured on Food. Curated.


Food. Curated is like a big dining table Liza has set for her devoted food fans.  The show is not so much a how-to cooking show – although there is plenty of behind-the-kitchen-door prep and crafting that viewers crave. 
It’s the unique stories of the food craftspeople and how Liza narrates their food struggles and triumphs that leaves one pleading, “more, please.”

Born in Brooklyn, raised in Florida by her Filipino parents – she claims her father was kitchen obsessed and enlisted his kids as sous chefs. She was taught to taste everything, cook, and experience the flavors of fresh food. The family also traveled a lot: Asia and Europe especially, and she learned about cultures from food.  She returned to New York City suffused with a dream.  She loved photography and people – and food: the holy trinity of New York food culture. 

For almost three years  -- until 2001-- Liza was marketing prime time shows at ABC TV.  As a natural storyteller and self-taught videographer, though, she wanted to produce the segments.  Further, after the attacks on the World Trade Center changed Gotham forever, she needed to hit the pause button. 
Liza mapped out a world tour, traveling and tasting; mainly exploring. 

In 2003, back in New York, she got her big chance at the Long Island start-up: Plum TV.  “I was at the right place at the right time,” she grins.  What’s that saying about success belonging to the prepared?
Well, Liza had in fact researched the enterprise, met the owners in a parking lot and they hired her. 
On the spot.  
Watching Liza guide the viewer through the Food. Curated profiles, and better yet, meeting her in person as she bounds to a hello greeting and, immediately, I knew there was never any question that they would’ve said no.  She is pure, happy energy you want to pixie dust to make the world better!
At Plum TV she was given carte blanche to cover what she wanted.  There was no doubt it would be food.  She soon became the food "it" girl for the channel, visiting farms and restaurants. 
The feedback from the homegrown community told her they’d never known about the local crops or harvest, for example until they saw her show.   
“It was here in Long Island – in the Hamptons -- that I connected with food on another level and it hit me:  this is what I’m going to do.”

After Plum TV and a brief run at an environmental hosting position, she doggedly determined to return to her first lover: food.  And to do her own food series. 
On her own.  
In NYC.   (Just the biggest media market there is.... )
Wow! That's conviction.

However, much to her surprise, too many networks, media and food blogs turned her down, telling her no one would stick around for a seven-minute video piece about food, she later commented to the premiere audience.  But she would not let her dream dissipate like an ephemeral, frothy topping she’d soon be reporting on.  Oh, no. 

What's a food narrator to do?  She launched Food. Curated solo in 2009
She put together a modest budget, produced just five video segments and posted it.
Then it went viral.

“It’s an awesome thing to tell the real story of food: the doughnut bakers or ice cream or cheese makers. I love that sense of educating people to eat better. To make a difference,” she explains.
It becomes clear Liza is not so much producing TV shows as much as she is on a mission.  This talented visual artist loves what she does.  She respects the food artisans, farmers, fishermen, and chefs.   
That romance ignites the screen.  Make no mistake though, this is food entertainment as much as it is education.  
And Liza does it all: once a week or so she is researching the food profile candidates, interviewing,  shooting video, editing, setting it to music, graphics.  
It’s a sensory experience that has earned her two James Beard nominations.

“My curiosity is so vast, I know I will never run out of stories to tell,” Liza says about her upcoming second season.  She notes she’s discovered the story of a North Catskill slaughterhouse kill floor, a pizzeria started by a middle-aged former tech consultant, Pauli Gee, and an ostrich farmer.  “I get my stories most often by eating somewhere delicious then I contact them and I’ll stick to them until they agree to be a featured food artisan,” this gregarious, over-achiever says.

In her opening remarks to the audience at the food series' premiere at Tavern on the Green, she explains Food. Curated is less about food than it is about the people she profiles.  
It's their stories she's channelling. 
Like a Shakespearean protege, Liza has a keen sense of the drama and comedy inherent in timeless storytelling.  She profiles their struggles, challenges, and triumphs with respect and intimacy, as they pursue their dreams with a single-mindedness that is pure Horatio Alger.  
That they more often than not fit Liza's profile of pursuing a passion and a dream is not a coincidence.  Her empathy enriches the narrative.
She says she is inspired to create a kind of storytelling she knows from her favorite radio show, "This American Life." 
The new Food. Curated show, airs 9:00pm, Thursday, August 11th on channel NYC life is available in the New York tri-state area on broadcast, cable and satellite channels, channel 25 on most cable systems and 22 on Cablevision.      

It features husband and wife baking team Matt and Allison who create crazy good, flavors-that-only-a-sorcerer-could-imagine cupcakes (hello Creamsicle or Peaches & Red Wine): Robicelli’s cupcakes (http://robicellis.tumblr.com), along with Betsy Devine and Rachel Mark Devine who make Salvatore Brooklyn ricotta cheese (www.salvatorebklyn.com) that you will wonder how you ever lived without – especially this time of year with just-picked tomatoes from the garden or Greenmarket some salt and a little olive oil; and Danny Cohen, creator and baker of Danny Macaroons (www.dannymacaroons.com) who creates and makes coconut macaroons in flavors that are off the charts, including roasted almond, German chocolate and are gluten-free!  Danny also makes "naked" and cloaked biscotti

Catch a Sneak Preview of Food. Curated here:

Watch episodes from season one online at: http://tiny.cc/e5era

Visit http://tiny.cc/u10iv to learn more about the show and NYC life. The city brings truly great programming home.  This is welcome entertainment indeed, especially those culturally-curious viewers abandoned by too much faux reality tv.  Applause, Applause, NYC Media Network!

In the future, Liza hopes she can produce full-length food documentaries, saying “food can be told in a story format.”  Tune in for Food. Curated and see how it’s done. 

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