Yidio Exclusive: 'Foodcrafters' Host Aida Mollenkamp Helps You Find Your Next Food Adventure
From the masterful culinary travelogues on the Travel Channel's “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” to eighteen different “Top Chef” spinoffs and knock-offs, to a brand new Cooking Channel programming round-the-clock food shows, there’s no question - foodie TV is in its heyday.
One of the youngest and most exciting (not to mention attractive) players in this burgeoning industry is Aida Mollenkamp, the 31-year-old chef/writer/host of “FoodCrafters,” a Cooking Channel show that explores the relationship between local producers, your favorite restaurants and your pantry, with a decidedly pro-green, pro-sustainability twist.
Mollenkamp, who got her start on the Food Channel cooking advice show “Ask Aida,” and by blogging for Chow.com, talked to Yidio before an upcoming panel she’s on at the reality TV conference Reality Rocks in L.A. this weekend. We asked her about the recent boom in foodie TV and what it takes to make it as a Food Channel host.
Why do you think there’s been such an explosion in interest in food-related television?
“I think that a whole generation of Americans has grown up without learning how to cook. They’re sort of a lost generation when it comes to food, but they’re really interested in learning more about cooking. There’s also a completely different kind of viewer who is very much just entertained by watching cooking – the whole spectacle of it, the action. That’s why competition shows are so popular,” says Mollenkamp.
“On that front, I think a lot of people are also doing more open kitchen planning in the home, and making the actual cooking itself part of the event. I know that when I have friends over to entertain, the night always starts in the kitchen,” says the “FoodCrafters” host.
“Foodcrafters” seems very much like a passion project for you. How did the show get started?
“Well basically while I was working on Ask Aida for the Food Channel, I was always asking the producers to push for more info on pushing local, sustainable and green foods. It’s something I believe in very strongly and I don’t think people really understand how it can be possible in their lives. So when the executive producer of the show asked me what I wanted to do next, the idea of doing an entire show focused on that idea – in other words ‘Foodcrafters’ - was the first thing that came to mind.”
So what would you say the mission of the show is?
“I very much believe that people should find their own food adventure. No one should be scared to get out there in the kitchen and try stuff out. Buy something new you've never bought, experiment, follow the flavors you like and use them. I really encourage people to think of their kitchen as a really big laboratory."
"Besides that, the show is also about asking the right types of questions about where your food is coming from and what it’s made of. I think when people hear about eating sustainable foods or organic foods, they assume that it’s going to be expensive and that’s not always so if you know where to look and aren’t afraid to ask the questions that need to be asked.”
While you used to work on the Food Channel, you have moved over to the Cooking Channel with your new show. Is there a rivalry between those two channels?
“Well, what a lot of people don’t realize is that Scripps owns both channels, so we share a lot of the same resources all the time. Moving over to the Cooking Channel, I’m actually working with the same people I used to work with – the Director of Programming, finance people, we even use some of the same studios and PR resources. The success of the Food Channel has definitely contributed to the success of the Cooking Channel.”
You’ve got a lot of people’s dream job - any advice for aspiring foodie TV hosts?
I think a lot of production and programming executives are starting to look online a lot more for talent. They want to see if you can make it on YouTube or Vimeo before you’re on TV. So I’d say get to work. Write, blog, shoot videos, and ask yourself honestly, what’s your story? I think too often people assume you can just decide to be on TV and boom it happens. It takes work, and you have to have something interesting to say, or no one will listen.”
I was in the Middle East for the first time last year, and I was out on a wine tour, and all I had with me was literally a flip cam. And we came across this mile long wine cave that had been built by the Romans. I had no idea that it existed or that we were going to come across it. So I shot some quick videos and everybody loved it. I take a camera with me everywhere I go.
Watch “Foodcrafters” at 8:30 p.m. EST on the Cooking Channel. Catch Aida Mollenkamp live alongside stars from "Iron Chef America" and "Top Chef" at Reality Rocks in L.A. Sunday April 10th at 1:00 p.m. PST.
Watch Aida Mollenkamp take on an army of sea vegetables on “Foodcrafters.”