Woo, hoo! The Check, Please! Bay Area Season 6 Opener featuring yours truly aired a bit earlier tonight and if I do say so myself it was a pretty great episode! As promised, I have posted the link to the episode for those of you who missed it:
Online Season 6 Opener of Check, Please! Bay Area…did you watch? What did you think?! Are you going to Saha ASAP?!
Since my post on Tuesday I’ve had quite a few questions about what the Check, Please! Bay Area experience was like…especially after my “I hope I’m not a total fool after all of that wine they fed us in the green room :)” line! So here goes, for those of you interested I strongly encourage you go submit an application yourself!
So after you submit your application on-line (I think your best shot is with a restaurant that is a bit more off the beaten path that hasn’t been reviewed yet…and of course you should be super comfortable on camera since they now film live to tape), if they are interested in your restaurant they set up a phone interview where you are mostly asked to talk about your restaurant and why you want to be on the show. If that goes well, you are then brought in for a live interview at the KQED studio in Portrero Hill. This is where the true test is because they are assessing your ability to answer questions on the fly, be poised, engaging and camera ready…since this year is the first season they’re filming live to tape (due to budget cuts…get your KQED donations in, people!) they advised that they are being quite a bit stricter on who they bring in since they have to get it right without editing. After your interview, if your selected you will be notified and then get an envelope delivered to your house 3 weeks before your air date. The envelope has the details about the 3 restaurants for your show, instructions on what you are to do when you go to your restaurants and the form for your written review.
So over the course of the next 3 weeks you go eat out at the 3 restaurants, bringing family and/or friends like your normally would and eating the food that would be typical for you (i.e. don’t order escargot if you’ve never had it before and aren’t really interested in it…not a fair way to judge a new restaurant!). After each restaurant you write your review and send it into KQED.
Then the air date comes (currently Fridays during the summer) and you are asked to arrive at KQED studios by 12:30pm with 3 different shirts for them to choose from for you to wear on the show (no black, white or complex patterns). Once you arrive you are brought back to the green room where you meet your fellow guests and the host Leslie Sbrocco for the first time. Of course, there are also producers, production assistants, etc… The next thing they do, is immediately offer you wine (and good wine at that!) and set out a cheese tray for you to nibble on. Beware, they are quite free with the wine…you know, like you look away for a minute and all of a sudden you have a full glass again so you totally lose track of how much you’re drinking until it’s too late! Their intent is good though…they want to loosen everyone up and get rid of the nerves before you get in front of the camera. While you are drinking and chatting (not about the restaurants though! That has to get saved for on air only!) each guest & Leslie are also getting pulled out to get their make-up done and then go get still photos taken for the website. All, in all this takes you to about 3pm.
So now you are ready to go to the studio and get to work. You are all seated around a dining table with Leslie in the middle directly facing the camera (and teleprompter). Leslie does one full fast talk through of the entire script out loud…both to practice herself and to help give us a general idea of the flow and order of the restaurants. Then it’s go-time. I have no idea what it used to be like when they did edit, but we did one full run-through of the entire show and then re-shot the first restaurant section (typical low energy/nerves for the very first section vs. the last two). And that was it, done, finito, all over! We’re all then walked out blinded by the sun in our slightly tipsy state, feeling like it should be 7pm instead of 4pm!
What a fun way to spend a Friday afternoon! If only you could go on more than once…which I definitely asked about, the answer is no. So instead I told Tina, the producer, that when Leslie was ready to retire I would totally kill for her job…you never know, right? C’mon Leslie, don’t you have enough going on with all of your wine business?! He he…. Until then, if anyone knows of any other food shows that are looking for a host let me know!
Details for the final repeat airings (or watch it with the link online) and a show summary for those who not familiar below:
Repeats on KQED, Channel 9 (San Francisco):
Friday, July 8 at 1:30am
Friday, July 8 at 8:30pm
Saturday, July 9 at 2:30am
Saturday, July 9 at 1:00pm
Sunday, July 10 at 12:30am
Every week, Check, Please! Bay Area features three guests who are local diners, not professional restaurant critics. Each guest chooses their favorite restaurant and the other two guests visit that restaurant under total anonymity — the restaurants are not notified that Check, Please! “reviewers” are dining there. After trying each others restaurant recommendations, the guests come on the show to discuss, dispute, and celebrate their dining experiences. The panel of diners is moderated by host Leslie Sbrocco, an award-winning author, wine connoisseur, newspaper columnist, and speaker. At the end of the show, each restaurant is rated based on the panelists’ comments.