No Matter How Things Change
By Jared Andrukanis, Segment Producer
I am sitting in my office at Zero Point Zero trying to figure out exactly how we are going to get Queens of the Stone Age out to New York in the middle of their U.S. Tour when my phone rings. It is Chris, the Executive Producer of the show, and when he tells me where I am going on my next shoot, I nearly drop the phone out of my hand.
Chris says that Tony is going to New Orleans, and it is going to be a different kind of \”No Reservations\” I know it sounds strange that a statement like that could cause me enough shock to lose my grip on the handset of my office phone, but let me explainTurns out that I happened to be living in New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina was making its way towards land, and a few of my friends and I decided to have a hurricane party instead of doing what 95% of the population of the city chose to do (grab all they could and get the hell out) before the storm made landfall.
Needless to say, we spent quite some interesting days in the city during the days after Hurricane Katrina. We mostly passed the time by standing on the roof of our flooded house, and using a boat that we had \”liberated\” from a nearby backyard to cruise around the neighborhood. So now, after living in New Orleans, and after staying in town during the hurricane, I get to go back and shoot an episode of No Reservations there quite a coincidence, to say the least.
Speaking to Chris, ideas for possible restaurants and places to see are rapid firing through my head, \”Ok I got some ideas, this is gonna be great.\” I then remember his earlier comment, \”What makes this show different?\” I ask. Chris says, \”Tony wants to see how the city is recovering after Hurricane Katrina, most importantly, how the restaurants are coping with the storm and aftermath. The focus is on what Katrina did to the people and the industry.\”
I am speechless
Let me impress the gravity of that statement for all of you:
New Orleans is known all over the world for its culinary prowess. Hurricane Katrina is the worst natural disaster to hit the United States in modern times. And I spent a good deal of time walking around my flooded neighborhood in late August 2005 this is going to be interesting.
After a few weeks of prep I am getting off a plane with the rest of the crew at Louis Armstrong Airport, just outside of New Orleans proper, and am immediately assaulted by a very familiar blast of humidity accompanied by a feeling of homesickness. I forget how hard it is for me to come back now. So many memories left behind after that storm, so many changes as well. As for the shoot, it was a busy week and we covered a ton of ground.
While filming in New Orleans, a few things were for sure: The food in this town still kicks ass…period. The crew and Tony can still roll out of bed at the crack of dawn, shoot four locations, and then end up at a bar until almost 2AM and still get up for an early call the next day (multiple nights). And, most importantly, the city is on its way back, although changed forever. Everyone here has a Katrina story now, and in a town full of people who love to tell you a little bit about themselves, they all took some time to share with us some stories about that tragic time and the city they love. But if the stories we heard were quite different than what you would thinkâ€¦these people are not beaten down by what has happened, but focused, ready to keep pressing forward regardless of what has happened. They are looking to the future, to whatever it may hold. And these are the people we spent the week talking to and sharing meals with.
I won\’t go into details about what we did or who you will be seeing in this episode (though I bet you will recognize a face or two besides Tony\’s when you watch the show), but I will say this: As we called wrap and shut off the cameras, we were at a barbeque full of newfound friends that had shared their stories with us. On my plate was a mound of slow-cooked pig and homemade coleslaw, and as I dug my fork into it to gather a giant bite, I felt like we had done the city justice … and for a brief moment, I felt like I was home again.