Behind the scenes

It’s hard to capture the moments on my camera sometimes when I’m smack dab in the middle of the action. Outside of my little food world in my kitchen, there’s no “pause” button or “do-over” button in life while I fumble with my camera.

By the time I whip out the camera, turn it on, adjust, focus and click,

The moment is gone.

And it’s just not quite the same to say, “hey guys, um…I missed that moment, can you spill that drink all over yourself again?”

So for my very first book signing party in my hometown, I handed my beloved camera to Nathan. He’s almost 5, so of course I duct-taped the camera around his forehead, over his shoulder so he couldn’t drop it. With specific instructions on “take a picture of these lovely people” and “take a pic of this yummy plate of food!”, here is Nathan’s take on the evening.


I love the eyes of a 5 year old!

Right after that party, I was off to NYC, where my first event was the NYC Dumpling Festival. Oh…what’s this coming my way?


Hmmm…closer inspection…


It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a massive dumpling filled with BABY dumplings – I think like close to 1,200 dumplings. This thing weighed 900+ pounds.


I was the M.C. for the Dumpling Festival sponsored by TMI Foods, the makers of frozen dumplings, noodles and dumpling wrappers. They raised $30,000 for the Food Bank of NYC that day! I could just lay here and fall asleep on this giant pillow.


I never got a chance to show you behind the scenes at the Today Show. The day before I went on air, we had a rehearsal. Yes, a rehearsal because this show is very professionally produced and they probably wanted to meet me first to make sure that I was not an insane person who dresses up like Rachael Ray….well…at least in Photoshop anyways.

When I get there, I was all ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work prepping for my segment.

There’s vegetables to cut! Meat to marinate!

But nope.


Everything was already done. evvvveerrrryything.

There’s a kitchen staff that chops, preps, styles, organizes and choreographs. All I had to do was walk through the what we were going to do on the segment and make sure all the ingredients were in place.


My segment was to be 4 minutes 45 seconds and we literally walked through every second of the segment – timing everything and even choreographing the exact moment when we walk over to the stove, when the rice is stirred and what gets handed over to whom with what hand.


Yeah, so was I, especially when I scribbled my notes on the back of a crusty envelope.


And then…they asked me, “Shall we go to the prop room and pick out dishes?”

I nearly fainted. I want. Mommy.


Could I sneak past security and bring home with me? Will all cram in my suitcase?

The next day, they sent a car to my hotel to come pick me up and then I was promptly whisked to the green room.

Which isn’t green.

But who cares because Rod Stewart is in the house!


I got made up like a big girl.


As I was waiting for my turn to go downstairs to the studio, I had a moment of panic.

What if the kitchen crew all called in sick today? SHITSHITSHITSHIT!!!

But sure enough, they were all there. Very busily getting things ready for the segment.


There was nothing for me to do.


Except just stand there and look all purty.


And then ACTION! (Don’t you love my big whoooooosh! bangs? I forgot to look in the mirror SIDEWAYS) If I haven’t forced you to watch the segment 5 times already, you can click on that image right below and it should go to the video clip.


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Comments 59

  1. Stephanie

    You look calm, collected, approachable and gorgeous!! Everything a cookbook author should look like. I love your website. I tried your dumpling recipe and my daughter said they tasted like the ones that we buy from Costco. Belive me that was high praise.

  2. David

    I liked how you can’t touch any of the dishes on the shelves, and neither can the prop people. I almost caused an int’l incident because of union rules which prohibit you from grabbing a plate. Yikes! Glad you didn’t get your hand slapped

  3. Kate @ Savour Fare

    Did you provide your own wardrobe? (I love the sweater). You were fantastic, but watching it made me realize how eerily accurate Kristin Wiig’s impression of Kathy Lee is on SNL.

  4. Kara

    Note to self – “look in the mirror sideways” (not that I’ll ever need that for a TV appearance) – but your comment cracked me up. I have to say, after watching the video of your segment, I didn’t notice the bangs on bit! Congrats!

  5. Rachael

    You rock woman! I actually loved your big woosh bangs–you totally pulled them off! And that humongolicious dumpling? THAT is my kind of dumpling.

  6. Nate

    Kinda reminds me of what happened when Wayne’s World got bought by that network company owned by Rob Lowe. Nothing to do but stand around and look purty.

    Hou leng ah!

    Party on, Jaden.

  7. Ellen

    Great looks from behind the scene…Love the hair and makeup glimpse…did you see Rod Stewart-I would love to see his hair and makeup routine.
    You looked great and the segment was very professional.

  8. Dawn in CA

    You seriously crack me up! I love how you always keep it real. Did you get to cut open the giant dumpling and watch all the little baby dumplings tumble out? Oh wait, that actually sounds kind of gross… πŸ˜‰ BTW, you looked and sounded GREAT on the Today Show!

  9. Diana

    Oh wow! That prop room was amazing! I know I already told you but you did such a great job on the Today show. Can’t wait to see you over the next week!

  10. Wendy

    I have loved Korean style hamburgers since I was a kid in the late 60’s. I even taught my niece to do hamburger this way and now she mixes soy sauce and sugar together to dip her burger into. Good job on the segment, you looked great and did a great job.

  11. Tina

    So, has the food network called yet? If not, what’s taking them so long??? I think it’s about time that Asian cuisine gets it’s due. Besides, you are certainly more talented than Rachel Ray (Satan’s Spawn) or Sandra Lee (maybe you should try opening up a can of chow mein and adding a little soy sauce to it, and voi la!, semi-homemade!). I loved your Today Show segment!

  12. Viviane Bauquet Farre / food & style

    And here I was worrying about all the work you must have done to prep all the food!!! I’m so glad you didn’t have to do a thing except your beautiful face… Congratulations Jaden! I loved watching you – you were AWESOME!!!

    Love, love, love your pix…

  13. shirley elizabeth

    So I just came to your site from the Pioneer Woman’s (I guess that’s the point of doing each other’s recipes) but I’m excited to be a new follower! Your site looks great!

  14. GCS

    Thanks for sharing the behind the scenes details and pics with us, I have to admit Nathan’s pics make me a touch dizzy.

  15. Rachelle

    They have a kitchen CREW?!? Whoa. And a prop room!?! Double Whoa.

    The comment about the “touching props causing an int’l incident” was funny. I can relate. Since I’m used to wearing several hats on a shoot, I think nothing of picking up a cable or rolling up my sleeves for something … and it’s hysterical to watch the Union people have a cow.

    Very cool behind the scenes tour! Thanks for sharing. :o)

  16. DPLK

    Wow that’s a lot of plates, props, and tablecloths for a 5 minute segment….definitely be tempted to sneak a few home, they’d never notice, hehe.

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I totally understand and share your apprehension about the little crevices in the Bundt pan (especially the more intricate flowery ones)!! A good nonstick simple one doesn’t seem to have too much stickage problems. A good spray with non-stick cooking spray (or nowadays there’s the baker’s version with a little bit of flour in it too) also helps a lot =) and also not trying to take the cake out of the pan too quickly (cakes shrink once they cool down, so it’s always easier to un-pan after cooling). I totally line all my square and and round pans with parchment, and so that helps with the non-stickage too! I like baking in that it’s pretty formulaic and if you follow the recipe, and with a little experience (e.g. knowing what the batter should be like, or when to stop mixing or else it’ll get tough, or knowing to check doneness with a toothpick a few minutes early and judge how long it’ll take by the amount/quality of batter sticking to the toothpick), it’s not much different (in my opinion) than watching stuff cook on the stove and making sure you don’t overcook the meat or burn the sauce. Hmm maybe that’s why I like to cook one-pot stews and sauces, the kind that you can’t over cook, haha. Anyways, looking forward to seeing more of your crazy book tour adventures! Enjoy, have a good rest of the week.

  17. Olive

    Congrats Jaden! You did great and you looked great too on that segment..What an amazing experience for you, thanks sharing …you’re so natural, btw.. maybe you’ll have your own cooking show too in the future πŸ™‚

    ..I love that prop room..and the giant dumpling too πŸ™‚

  18. Alta

    Think you can bring that kitchen crew home? Cause that would be totally cool. I’d love to come home and have everything prepped for me! And to pick out my dishes….OMG. Sounds like an overwhelming, awesome experience! And I didn’t notice your whoosh bangs, until you pointed them out! LOL

  19. Maryann

    You rocked it Jaden. That looked like so much fun. Thanks for sharing. The prop room, the kitchen staff, the makeup room and the car/driver. Sounds like my “things I want when I win the lottery” list. Hey, I just read the article about you in Creative Loafing and it reminded me of how I first heard about your blog. It was the article you wrote for them on buying lobsters in the grocery store and I laughed so hard I cried. Good luck with the book tour!

  20. Kate

    OH! That WAS you at the Dumpling Festival!! I kept telling my boyfriend that I thought you looked familiar, and he was looking at me like I’d lost my mind. If it had been any food other than dumplings, I would have lost my appetite after watching that dumpling-eating contest–but we persevered under our umbrellas! Great work, hope you enjoyed NYC!

  21. Simone (junglefrog)

    Haha…I was laughing out loud when I realized that those first pictures where taken by Nathan! I was still reading that part about ‘spilling the drink all over yourself again’ and thought that moving ghost was what you captured of that moment…lol… then I realized I got it all wrong…
    Love the behind the scenes photos and that prop room!!! OMG!! Didn’t you secretly sneak some small items into your handbag or pockets or whatever?? I would be sooo tempted!

  22. the domestic mama

    I just love you! Not in a creepy-stalker-lesbian way, either! You are just too sweet for words- thank you for keeping yourself REAL and not letting all the fame get to your head- it’s so nice hearing about “the other side” from someone that is sooooo easy to relate to. You just plain ol’ rock!

  23. rita

    thank goodness, for online streaming. the only way i can watch many of the american shows/segments.

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