The Realities of Being a Cooking Channel Extra:

Jordan PBy Jordan Puyear |

It might be every food-lovers dream, including myself, to be on a Cooking Channel show. Surprisingly, I had the pleasure of appearing last January as an extra on a new Cooking Chanel show, Junk Food Flip.

For those who don’t know, the premise of Junk Food Flip is that the hosts, Bobby Deen and Nikki Dinki, take a restaurant’s most iconic meal and try to flip it to make it healthier than the original, but still taste just as good. Then, the judges, which I was for the day, taste both meals and decide which one is better. This episode traveled to St. Augustine to challenge the Bob Narley UFO Burrito from A1A Burrito Works Taco Shop.

All I could think about was being on television, meeting Cooking Channel stars, and eating five-star quality food. However, it wasn’t quite the fun and games that all Cooking Channel shows present things to be, oh the magic of editing.

Don’t get me wrong, it really was a dream come true, it’s just not what I expected it to be. Let me reveal what goes on behind the curtain of being an extra on a Cooking Channel show.

To start things off, when I arrived at the location for the shooting of the show, it wasn’t that glamorous at all, it was basically a parking lot next to the beach. Also, there weren’t a lot of people. In fact, the producers were actually asking people to invite more people to bulk up the crowd. Once my friend and I signed in around 4:30, we just stood around until they told us we were needed.

It wasn’t until 6:00 that the producers herded the group together under a canopy to organize us. What was a sunny, cool January afternoon, turned into a freezing cold, windy night. It didn’t help that I was wearing a short dress, a lightweight sweater, and heels, not the best decision I have ever made.

Finally, after waiting all afternoon, the show finally started at 7:30, and we met the shows hosts. I must say, this was a highlight of my night, they were actually very friendly, welcoming people. We walked over to the show’s food truck and had to take several takes of the same line over and over again. It was actually quite funny because after everything the hosts said, we, as an audience, had to cheer, and when you do that take six or seven times, the excitement wears off.

8:30 at night, we got to the food, and let me tell you, it really was quality food. A1A’s burrito was classic and comforting, while Deen’s rendition was unexpected and flavorful. Just being able to eat a Cooking Channel star’s food was an experience in itself, because not everybody can say they have done that. It was even worth the indigestion later that night.

After everything that went on that evening, almost freezing to death, extreme boredom, and intense hunger, it was all worth it when I was able to snap a picture with both hosts of the show. I can still remember it now, being so close to Cooking Channel greatness.

Once the show aired in July, I was expecting to see my interview, however, the producers decided not to use it. It’s not like I’m upset about it or anything (wipes away tears). However, here is a tip if you know you are going to be on television: wear a bright colored outfit. Luckily, I was wearing a yellow dress, and I definitely stuck out in the crowd.

All in all, it was an experience I will never forget, for good and bad. It reminded me to always be realistic, don’t go into a place expecting one thing, and be disappointed to find out its completely different than you thought. Just because it’s television, doesn’t mean it’s all glamour. However, you will definitely have a great icebreaker at a dinner party. “So I almost froze to death while being an extra on a Cooking Channel show.” See, it will get somebody’s attention.

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