Web shows about food are becoming so common I think I’ve lost count—VendrTV, Food Star, Cooking with Nonna, 12-Second Cocktails—but scripted comedies about hard core foodies? Those were sadly missing until now. Thankfully one new series, Foodies, explores the conflicted machinations of a foodie culture emboldened by dozens of competition reality shows and celebrity chefs.
The American foodie is the modern derivation of the post-war French culinary zealot that infiltrated kitchens of a newly prosperous middle class. Only now it has anexed itself farther from “Anyone Can Cook” and Julia Child, morphing instead into a refined form of geek in constant distrust of the mainstream palate. This of course leads to a yuppie one-upmanship that finds even the sanest amongst us heading to Williams-Sonoma insisting on Mauviel copper saute pans instead of (gasp) that copper core nonsense.
Fitting then that this new series walks us into the world of exclusive dinner clubs and hazing of the newcomers. Porter is our identifiable protag, pushed unwillingly into his fiancée’s snooty friends dinner circle.
The project unfolded out of the mind of creator Japhy Grant, an NYU Tisch School grad now living out in Los Angeles. Grant himself had been exposed to foodie culture. ” I was in a yuppie monthly dinner party for a while in L.A. and I still do Iron Chef type events with friends now and then, too,” Grant told us. “I think food culture is really having a moment. Everyone either is or knows someone who is in a dinner club or who is a very serious amateur cook. And with anything trendy, there’s an element of competition and self-seriousness, which can be very very funny if you look at it the right way.”
You can tell that even with the heavy shots at cooking snobs, there’s still a concerted effort to ensure that the dishes themselves are up to snuff—the show even has its own food stylist (Miguel Montalvo) who doubles as the production designer. There’s an real inventive comedy cooked up here that should warm the palate of even the most discriminating of web video viewers.
Foodies is Grant’s first stab at web series, despite working in online video for a few years doing an online music video for the band Grizzly Bear, and online spots for BCBG/ Max Azria. “I imagine this is what it must have been like in Hollywood during the talkies era, with everyone experimenting to see with what will work,” added Grant.
NYU selected Grant’s pitch for Foodies to be part of its Alumni showcase, a program designed to highlight the school’s LA-based writers. “It was 30 days from finding out the show had been selected by NYU for their showcase to the first shot on set,” said Grant. “30 days later, the show was finished and 30 days after that, it’s out for the world to see. I know of no other medium that would allow an idea to become a reality so quickly.”
Grant shot the project under the AFTRA new media contract, which helped seal the deal on his cast of working actors like Daniel Franzese (Mean Girls), Carlee Avers (Veronica Mars), Sean Hankinson (Prom Queen), Jeffery Self (30 Rock, 90210) and Anne Lane (Dorm Life).
We shot 3 episodes and together they function as a pilot. It’s not a sketch show, so we take some time to introduce the characters and reveal what their relationships are. We’re in the process now of finding a way to make more in a way that allows everyone to be adequately compensated for their efforts.
An added touch is the show’s site itself, freefoodies.com, that share recipes featured in the series like Danny’s Deconstructed PB & J (see recipe below). Grant tells us the goal is to build a community around the show, making the focus show more about driving viewers to the site that expands beyond just the scripted episodes—something indie standout Odd Jobs did remarkably well in New York.
What you need:
10 grams Calcium Lactate Gluconate
400 grams Grape Juice, plus 2 more cups (for the spheres to rest in)
2 grams Sodium Alginate
400 grams Filtered Water, plus more for rinsing the spheres
1. Combine 1/3 of the grape juice with all of the calcium lactate gluconate. Use an immersion blender to incorporate the ingredients. Then, once well mixed, add the remaining liquid to the mixture and mix by hand. Set aside.
2. Next, prepare the sodium alginate bath. Combine 2 grams of sodium alginate with about 1/3 of the water. Mix in the same manner as before (with immersion blender), then finish by mixing by hand. Allow the alginate bath to rest for about 2 hours.
3. Next, take a tablespoon of the calcium lactate gluconate and grape juice mixture and carefully drop it into the alginate bath in a quick motion so that it creates a sphere. Allow the sphere to rest in the liquid for about 2-3 minutes then remove and rinse in a bowl of filtered water, then move into a grape juice “bath”.
4. Once your spheres have been created, place individual spheres onto small toasts that have been spread with peanut butter. Serve immediately.
New episodes of Foodies release every Wednesday, with two more in store in the first serving. So far Grant says “the response has been really overwhelming and totally unexpected,” with writeups all over the wide world of online food blogs like Eater, HuffPo Food, and The Seattle Weekly.