It’s not every day Auburn University College of Human Sciences hospitality management students get to work on the set of a national network TV show, but for three days a handful of students got to do just that, making sure the film crew stayed fueled during hours of filming.
In an undisclosed location in Opelika, a few culinary science students made their way to a makeshift tent turned kitchen near the Food Network TV show set to help prep and cook both lunch and dinner for a cast and crew between 40-50 people.
One student helping to prepare the meals was Magen Gamino, a senior, said she jumped at the opportunity after hearing about it from Horst Schulze School of Hospitality Management Lecturer Ana Plana.
“I was in lab last Thursday and Chef Ana comes in halfway through lab and says ‘alright everyone stop what you’re doing,’” Gamino said. “She had just gotten an email from the Food Network’s chef, asking about providing some Auburn University students to help out because it would be a good opportunity to gain experience and network.”
Chef Sheldon Cannon, who owns Chef Cannon’s Catering & Cuisines, LLC based in Louisiana, also serves as the Food Network show’s crew chef. He made the call to Auburn knowing it would be a great opportunity for students and provide needed assistance for him.
“I’m from Louisiana and my company was hired to be this crew’s chef and my thought process was ‘What can I do to get local culinary students some experience on how it is to cook on a film set,’” Cannon said. “So that was the purpose of asking the students, but also the help was great as well. Not many people can say they’ve been cooking on a film set.”
On set, preparation for lunch started around 9:30 a.m. and was served around 1 p.m. each day. Following that, prep work began shortly after as dinner was served around 5 p.m. each night. The meals served included fajitas, salmon and rice, hamburgers, braised beef and potatoes and hot dogs.
Culinary Science freshman Riley Tallent also joined in, making the most of this unique opportunity.
Tallent said he had some experience cooking in remote areas but not on a film set. For him, getting to work alongside a professional chef like Cannon was the best part of the experience.
“I’m actually an Eagle Scout so I’m used to this more and it wasn’t as big of a change,” Tallent said. “Getting to work along with two professional chefs and the fact they’re here has been a good experience.”
Another unique aspect of cooking on a film set is being able to utilize what you have and working with limited resources. Gamino said that was a significant learning experience for her.
“We’re using a lot of improvisation like can you use this and what can you do it with and just trying to manage space,” Gamino said. “Also, not being afraid to get dirty since we’re working on grass and outside. It’s harder to do dishes too so you need to use what you’ve got first if you can. We try to stay on top of dishes.”
For more information on the Horst Schulze School of Hospitality Management, visit humsci.auburn.edu/hosp.