My Evil Mistress
So when I got signed at Travel Channel almost six years ago, I had a lot of pink clouds in my eyes. Many are still there, but one day walking down the esplanade in Brooklyn Heights, I got some great advice from Bourdain.
“Television,” he said slowly and deliberately, for emphasis, “ is an evil mistress.”
Truer words were never spoken, and I think about them often as I travel around the world, making shows, some days selling myself out more than others, and on other days getting caught up in some nasty business that can be really tough to handle. When we set out to shoot a show in a given place we always establish a theme predicated on the simple question: Why do I want to go and what do I hope to learn? Once we answer that question, we have a through-line around which to vet our stories. Simple, but not easy. We shoot enough compelling TV to fill a show and a half every time we dive into a culture, and while it’s a difficult process our entire team is usually in unanimous agreement about the toughest decisions we make…what WON’T make it into the show. The cutting room floor is littered with some amazing stories that could make a whole season I am guessing by now.
Well, last summer we taped one of the best shows we ever made, Bizarre Foods: Chicago. It premieres this coming Tuesday. At BF headquarters, we are all thrilled with the show. Achatz, Bayless, Wiviott, Sula, Pang, Bowles and many other great local heroes and notables make their way onto the program. There are dozens of restaurants and food shops that we couldn’t fit into our schedule, many wouldn’t or couldn’t find time for us and many that are in the show will find that after a day of shooting they are only briefly on camera. Such is the crazy world of TV. And to everyone in the City of Chicago, I thank you for an amazing week in a city I visit regularly. I am counting on shooting another show there next year, BTW.
But I want to salute a man and an establishment that I loved visiting, and that’s Gene’s Sausage and their head honcho Mr. Gene Luszcz. Sadly, we were not able to include Gene’s Sausage in the version of the show that airs in the United States. Our story about Gene’s Sausage will be included in the version of the show that is seen in countries outside the USA. Travel Channel is available in 70 countries. The international version of Bizarre Foods runs about five minutes longer than the version that people see in America, so that gives us enough time to include what we shot at Gene’s and it’s a sure bet that more people end up seeing that version than the domestic one, but I wanted to tell all the people of Chicago and the rest of the country WHO HAVEN’T been to Gene’s to rectify that misstep asap.
I would eat my way across Gene’s sprawling expanse of edible nirvana before I set foot in the hundreds of places that are more quickly recalled as being outstanding in their class. From the cured meats to the dried sausage and the amazing choice of pickles and side dishes, I think Gene’s is in a league of their own. At the close of the day, the executives at Travel Channel, the production company and myself have to decide what the final show will look like and in the end, we had to choose to spend time on other stories. Can you tell I got out-voted?!
Television is an evil mistress in all the worst ways. But I love her. Interestingly, this is the first time I’ve ever felt the need to personally apologize for leaving a place or a person out of an episode. I am crushed that this funny and delicious vignette wont be seen on the first viewing in the USA, but if you visit my YouTube Channel, you will be able to see what the rest of the world will see shortly, a story about one of the best deli’s and sausage shops on the planet.
Mea culpa, Gene.