The first thing we did was talk it over with the guys at Dan Appel Creative. Their vision was dizzying and exciting: They wanted a mosaic of dessert plates that would spell out the program logo when the camera pulled away. It seemed like one gigantic puzzle…I love puzzles…I thought we could do it. 153 desserts in full color where the logo design would be and in white for the negative space.
We did a test with just two of the logo letters to see if the idea would fly. The test went well but I saw just how much work it would take to get it done. In addition to Tiffany, I brought on Ana Osgood and Paty Winters. Denise was out of town until the last day of shooting, so even after 11 years of food styling, this was a big job for me to take on. It helped that we had total support from Dan Appel and Rob Knox. Their directions to us were “be awesome.”
We had a whole sound stage to prep in and a twenty-foot ladder that we could climb to check our work. That’s the first time I ever had to do that! We all got energized when the mosaic started coming together. Every time Dan came in to check on our progress he was pleased and said so.
We had the logo finished about midnight and were back to refresh anything that needed it at 7:00 a.m. Denise was there for the last day because we still had the hero “big” desserts to make and I sent her several “please oh please oh please I need you help” emails. We also brought Louise Samora-Mellor on for the last day for a badly needed extra pair of hands.
Then the whole thing went out to the set. Below is a link to the promo that shows the mosaic being put in place by the Top Chef Just Desserts contestants. I went out onto the set to watch it come together. I felt like a proud mama! Then I got antsy standing around and made Tiffany work the set.
This was an experience I will never forget. We started with a really fantastic idea, had total support and encouragement from our guys Dan and Rob, had the talented brains and hands of Ana, Paty, Denise, Tiffany and Louise, and (this is a biggie as it NEVER happens) got a disc from Dan and Rob of the entire thing when it was finished. And Tiffany learned an enormous amount in 4 days.
I’d only been working with Food Fanatics for about a year when we did this job. Denise and Cindie always told me stories about past jobs that were incredibly artistic with unimaginable budgets – but I’d pretty much only heard about them. This job showed me the light.
The clients told us what they wanted to achieve and basically set us loose. The 153 plates for the logo was a test of endurance and creativity. Cindie just kept telling me how “once in a lifetime” this job was. Playing with the rainbow of sprinkle choices and inventing a new plate design for every empty plate felt like the most awesome summer camp ever rather than a styling job. But when I stepped onto the completed set the day of shooting, it finally all hit me. It was beautiful. And everything the producers wanted and described. In the middle of it all was our logo. Our huge, 153 section masterpiece logo.
I think it still didn’t hit me how hugely awesome this was, but I finally got what Cindie was talking about. Plus, I got to make a pink marshmallow cake.
|Ana and Tiffany hi-fiving in the middle of the night.|
|Paty happily making all-white desserts.|
|Tiffany on marshmallow patrol.|
|Denise's artistry: The towering croquembouche.|
Here are some working photos of the entire piece nearly finished: