When we heard that Stanley Tucci was going to be guest on Saturday Kitchen we decided we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see our favourite food show come to life in front of our eyes. So we tagged along! It was an early start time at the Cactus TV studios in Clapham, although the production team and chefs had been there since 5am for rehearsals, so we really didn’t have much to complain about in comparison. At exactly 9am we were in position in the studio, perched in stools in the corner, as the opening credits played and the lights went up.
Hopefully my photos show how incredibly small the actual studio is. The building itself is an old church so a lot of the architectural details – the bricks, the tall windows – that I had always assumed to be part of the set are all original. When they are broadcasting there are really only a few cameramen in the room with the chefs, so it’s hard to believe that what’s going on in front of you is being watched by millions at home.
The line-up was fantastic, and had been carefully selected to reflect Stanley’s Italian roots. Firstly, there was Gennaro Contaldo who cooked 2 different types of ravioli with the help of a homemade…well, contraption in the best word to describe it. James Martin skillfully managed to keep everything on schedule and both plates of pasta were produced in perfect timing.
The moment the live demo was over and a pre-recorded VT was being broadcast, the kitchen was hit with a stampede of people clearing pots, pans and plates, and replacing them with what was needed for the next demo. Even more thrillingly, the plates of cooked pasta were passed over to our little group. We surrounded them greedily: the pasta had been cooked right in front of our (and millions of others’) eyes and was absolutely delicious.
Next James prepared tuna carpaccio with sourdough and tuna tartare whilst simultaneously interviewing Stanley about his career and his new book The Tucci Table – quite a feat! Then Francesco Mazzei – who cooked the food for Stanley and his wife Felicity Blunt‘s wedding reception – prepared a fresh and spicy dish of italian sausage with broad beans and peas.
After another break for a pre-recorded VT it was time for Stanley to face his food heaven, lobster, or food hell, passionfruit. This time the kitchen had to be set up to prepare both dishes. The result (heaven, of course) was revealed live on air after which James prepared lobster tortellini with a fennel sauce in a matter of minutes. The moment we were free to leave our stools we pounced on the plate, and it was cleared in seconds. Then there was time for photos and thank yous.
It was a fantastic treat to watch how the show is put together: it’s a brilliantly well-oiled machine that presents an incredibly high standard of cooking. Plus it was loads of fun. Thank you for having us!