October 8, 2004
The "Art of Food with Wendy Brodie," picked up by PBS stations in major markets
LOCAL COOKING SHOW GOES NATIONAL
By Brenda Moore, Herald Staff Writer
Wendy Brodie's artful approach to cooking is getting a national audience under a deal that's put her television show on Public stations across the country.
"The Art of Food with Wendy Brodie," featuring the chef/caterer/cooking teacher and former owner of Carmel's Lincoln Court restaurant, has been seen locally on a Fox affiliate for more than a year. Now it's being distributed by American Public Television, a Boston company that for years has been a major supplier of public-television programming including cooking shows such as Julia Child's "The French Chef."
More than 80 stations have said they plan to air the show, including 18 of the 25 biggest markets in the country, said Tom Davison, director of APT presentations. "For the initial season of a new program on public TV, that's quite good," he said.
The show began airing in some markets this week. Bob Bussinger, Brodie's husband and the show's producer, said they immediately got calls from viewers in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Southern California interested in recipes or buying DVDs of the shows.
Unlike teaching classes or catering, taping a show can be like working in a vacuum, Brodie said, so "I got a real thrill" when calls started coming in from new viewers.
Each half-hour-long show features Brodie cooking and giving ideas and tips on presentation and entertaining. Bussinger and the couple's dog Saki, are regulars on the show. Most episodes are taped at their Carmel Highlands home, with director Patrick Dougherty setting up four cameras in their kitchen and operating all of them by remote control. Occasionally shows are taped on location, including one last weekend where Brodie prepared food at a San Francisco 49ers tailgate party at Monster Park.
The show isn't a "money-maker," but Brodie and Bussinger hope it will build her name recognition and lead to bigger things. Underwriters, including Microsoft, Mercedes-Benz, Chappellet Winery and Brinton's, help pay for production costs. The shows are provided free to American Public Television, which in turn offers them for free to public stations.
Bussinger said they hope the larger audience attracts more underwriters and helps make Brodie a brand name, boosting sales of their DVDs and increasing opportunities for publishing cookbooks and licensing food and cooking gadgets.
"Besides, Wendy loves doing it," Bussinger said. "The main reason I enjoy doing it so much," she said, "is that it forces me to stretch myself and I love learning. That's the excitement for me, learning something new and then sharing it."
Brodie is a graduate of the first class of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and has been executive chef at resorts including the Preserve at Rancho San Carlos, Stonepine Inn and Gardiner's Tennis Ranch, all in Carmel Valley. She has been a guest chef at four- and five-star hotels in Europe. She and Bussinger operate a catering company and she also gives classes, including a series that started this week at Big Sur's Ventana Inn & Spa.
The couple submitted samples of their show to American Public Television earlier this year and Davison said it "made the cut" from among thousands of inquiries and pitches the company gets annually.
"The cooking landscape is quite busy," he said, but Brodie's show has "a novel approach" with its "innovative cooking how-tos and recipes with useful table décor and presentation and decorating ideas that viewers can create at thome. And also, the production values are quite high." He called Brodie a "warm and personable" host.
The deal with APT lasts three years. During that period, the show can't be offered to other stations or networks. It will continue to air locally through Comcast Cable under a contract that expires at the end of the year, Bussinger said. At some point, area viewers will be able to see it on KTEH, the Public Broadcasting station in San Jose.
Bussinger said he and Brodie hope to fill the Comcast Slot with.a second show, tentatively called "Chefs Palette." It would be more of a magazine-style show, he said, where Brodie would cook and also have segments about new gadgets, wine, travel and other topics. Brodie said it could also cover nutrition and health topics "so that it would be a little different."
Brenda Moore may be reached at 646-4462 or at