Cooking with Jacques: Bread in a Pot, Part I
November 4, 2007

After the whirlwind that was the final week, which included the final four shows, Mathra coming to a taping, the wrap party, and the clean-up, I collapsed for a few days. Then, I picked myself up off the floor and proceeded to food poison myself for the first time. It has not been a happy 72-hours. That's all by way of saying that I've downloaded all my photos, but I still haven't embarked on the horrendous task of trying to tell the stories.

However, I think I can start at the end and jump around. See, there was this recipe for "Bread in a Pot." I was very aware of this recipe the entire ten days of shooting because I knew this recipe required a 12-hour rise. (It's only fast food when you remember to set the bread rising before you go to bed at night.)

Anyway, I think it was the night following third day of shooting where, as usual, I had collapsed into bed after a quick shower and a quicker meal. Suddenly, at 4 AM, I sat up in bed, frozen in fear. "Did David assign the Bread in a Pot for the next day? What about the 12-hour rise?" As I ruffled through my recipe pages, checklists, and blockings for the next day's three shows, I reasoned with myself, "Well, it's 4 AM, if I got the bread rising right now, we could technically be ready for the final show, right?" I had forgotten that there was an additional first hour of rising, and it was only AFTER that first punch down that the clock started on the 12-hour. I had also forgotten that a very special pot needed to be chosen by Jacques himself before we could even get started.

Did I say pot? Make that pots.

In many of the shows, the recipes -- if they take too long or just to be on the safe side -- require "twins." That is, a backup. A done dish. The "magic of television" dish. When a twin is done, everything has to be duplicated, right down to the pot used, the garnish garnished, or the Silpat turned with the logo facing down.

In the KQED kitchen, we had two pots for Jacques to decide upon -- a 3-qt and a 4-qt. I knew this. I had seen the stickies on the special non-stick pots saying, "Jacques to choose: bread in a pot." Yet, there I was at 4 AM following our third day of filming, reasoning how I could get bread to rise in order to save the show. (Did I mention that I didn't even have any yeast in the house?) I AM NOT A BAKER!

Luckily -- or not, so much "luckily" as "David's much, much smarter than your nightmares" -- Bread in a Pot was not assigned for the next day. I went into work, a bit sleep-deprived but relieved, that Bread in a Pot was not rising on the horizon.

Although this was the only dream I had during ten days of shooting that shoved my aching body out of bed earlier than necessary, it was not the only dream I had about the show or the recipes. I went over the recipes endlessly in my head, the prep methods, the timing, the slicing, the dicing. In fact, it was so endless, it was as if I was trying to memorize them...which was totally unnecessary, you know? We had the recipes in front of us the entire time. This wasn't a test. At least not a culinary school practicum type of test.

A few weeks later, we're closing in on the final days of shooting and David hands out recipe assignments. He announces, all casual-like, "And Stephanie, you've got Bread in a Pot." The sheer terror must have shown up plain as day boat scallops on my face because he said, "Don't worry, we'll work on it together."

What me worry?

(Stay tuned for "Cooking with Jacques: Bread in a Pot, Part the Second.")

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