What a TV Producer Eats in Atlanta Part 1

By on Thursday, August 25th, 2011

When work involves being on the road and away from your own kitchen, food takes on a whole new meaning.
A good meal in a new town can leave a lasting impression long after you’ve packed up your crew and moved on to the next location. Thankfully Atlanta makes an impression worth sticking around for.

A Bit of Background

I’m originally from New Zealand and when people ask if it’s true we have more sheep than people, I say yes. And we’re eating them as fast as we can. I would be there right now doing my bit to keep the sheep population at bay if it weren’t for work. For the past 10 years I have been living and working in the United States as a freelance television producer. One week I’ll be in Woodstock, New York working on a home renovation show, the next on Mono Lake in California interviewing scientists about life on other planets. As a result my diet is as varied and exotic as the locations I end up shooting in.

Last year on an assignment for Toque, I traveled to the Kirk family ranch in South Dakota to film the spring calf branding and traditional dinner that followed.  It was an amazing experience and even though I gave up eating beef nearly six years ago I did partake in the local delicacy – rocky mountain oysters. Admittedly it was offered more than once before I accepted. I had hoped the persistent rancher who followed me around with those little barbecued balls would eventually give up. He didn’t, but luckily the taste was not as bad as I imagined and I proved myself to be a good sport by eating like the locals.

At the moment I’m on a rare and coveted assignment for those who work freelance in television production – a gig lasting  longer than four months and in one location. Before taking the job I weighed the pros and cons, including a consult with my stomach.  Atlanta, Georgia in case you are not  aware, is a  food lover’s paradise, something I discovered two years ago when I worked on a home renovation show in East Atlanta Village.

I was so enamored of the food scene I shot a short story about gourmet popsicles when I was here last year for work. Back again to shoot a second season of a TLC show about wedding gowns, I am happily reacquainting myself with all Atlanta has to offer food wise. In the coming weeks I’ll share my discoveries with you, starting with my local lunch spot: World Peace Cafe in Sandy Springs.

What’s for Lunch?

Everyday when I come in to work at the bridal salon, one of the first things we talk about is what we’re having for lunch. Since we shoot two brides a day our schedule means we can’t always leave location for lunch so the production assistant goes through the collection of menus and one of us will make their best persuasive argument for the place they’d like us all to order from. I’m not much of a meat/chicken/pork eater so on the days when it’s mainly meat on the menu I’ll take a five-minute walk to World Peace Cafe. At the counter I force myself to bypass the most amazing and tasty chocolate-chip lavender scone ever concocted. I would happily put chocolate in my mouth and lavender in my sock drawer but combining the two in a tasty scone would have never occurred to me. It only gets better when you add a delicious latte made with fair trade coffee and organic milk.

Meditating on the Divine

For lunch I go for the Cool Cumber sandwich with mascarpone cheese, which comes with a salad. Or sometimes it’s gotta be the TMB–tomato, mozzarella and basil sandwich–with rosemary or vegan mayo. The sandwiches are huge and everything on the menu is organic and local/regional where possible. The cafe itself is staffed by volunteers and is operated by the Kadampa Meditation Center of Georgia. All profits go toward supporting meditation classes and special events designed to help others find peace of mind.

I would happily put chocolate in my mouth and lavender in my sock drawer but combining the two in a tasty scone would have never occurred to me.

Back at the salon my co-worker Morgan is chowing down on BBQ chicken and anticipating the food coma that usually accompanies his feast. I lay out my tasty TMB sandwich and feel at peace with my choice for lunch. Now if I could just sneak back for that latte and lavender scone…

Written by Ila Couch

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