To ensure the BBC comedy Whites was as authentic as possible, Andrew Turner was brought in as consultant chef for the show. He tells James Stagg how he made sure the terminology and buzz was that of a working kitchen.
How did you get involved in Whites?
One of the writers, Matt King, used to be a chef of mine back in 1990 at Hanbury Manor. He's long since left catering and has appeared in Peep Show and films like RocknRolla and Bronson.
What was your role?
As a writer there's only a certain amount of involvement you can have with the actors. So as chef consultant I acted as the middle man, getting in what the writer wants and making it authentic in terms of kitchen speak and buzz. I proofread all the scripts and gave my feedback on what would make it more authentic in terms of food terminology.
Did you prepare the dishes in the show?
I did a couple of dishes, but not all the food. There was a food stylist on the set that I was in regular contact with. But it wasn't all to do with the food, mostly it was making sure that through a lens the kitchen looked like a proper kitchen.
Did the actors take your direction?
It wasn't easy to work with some of the actors. They'd be intent on picking food up with their hands that was meant to have just come out of the oven. Eventually they understood but it wasn't easy going.
How long was the production process?
I've worked with Matt on this from the beginning, from making a five minute pilot to a full episode and then a series. One episode takes seven days to make. One food shot took 32 takes. I had to re-plate the dish that many times to make sure the image was right.
Has it been good for your profile?
This is a side of television I've found fascinating. I hope it might lead to other things but you can never tell. I'm fortunate to have remained friends with Matt, like I have with many chefs I've worked with.