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Adam Gertler Interviewby Pattye Grippo    
Adam Gertler

Adam Gertler (former finalist on Food Network Star) has a new show premiering on Monday, July 12th at 8 pm ET/PT called Kid In A Candy Store, where he uncovers the most outrageous and loved treats for every sweet tooth. See Pazsaz Entertainment Network's Kid In A Candy Store page for more about the show.

I had a chance to speak with Adam Gertler about the Kid In A Candy Store television show.

Question:
You've done television before, but now you're carrying the show all by yourself. How does that feel?

Adam Gertler:
I had a little bit of practice up to this point, we did a little bit for Food, which was my first chance with that. I didn't actually get to see any of it until it was all put together. That was a big lesson, you can watch yourself and see what works and doesn't, but the biggest challenge with these kinds of shows is, we're shooting so much - for a 5-7 minute segment, you might be shooting for 12 hours, and rambling on for 45 seconds to get to a point just doesn't work, so you've got to be precise and to the point, and almost speak in bytes. I feel like I've been improving over the past year, I've gotten to do more work for Food and specials for Fine Living Network, and I'm very comfortable with the people I'm working with, and I think that's the most important thing. The production company, O'Malley Productions, is awesome, and we've done about four or five things at this point. Now we don't even really think about - you're out there with your crew and having a good time on the set.

Question:
Where did the original concept for this particular show come from?

Adam Gertler:
I think this was born out of when we were doing Extreme Sweets. We were even saying on the set, Food Network doesn't have a sweets show, a desserts show. You've got Unwrapped and Diners [Drive-Ins and Dives], but there's no show where you're just doing ice cream, cakes, cookies, brownies. So while Extreme Sweets was more things like eating bugs on apples or bathing in cocoa or eating habaneros, we thought we would do a more full show, which can incorporate some of those things, but just entertaining and over-the-top sweets, not necessarily scary things that are alive. So I think it got born out of that, and I think we even said at some point during Extreme Sweets, 'Join me, I'm a big kid in a candy store', and that's kind of what they think of me as at the Food Network, I think that's where the title came from.

Question:
Can you tell me what sort of preparation goes in to an episode?

Adam Gertler:
For one episode there's research that gets done, usually by the production team, finding places that are interesting, unique, that will be interesting on television because they're visually appealing, they have an interesting character for me to talk to there... that's a big thing. A lot of these segments will live or die by who you're working with - you want people who are fun to work with, it makes it more fun to watch. For one segment, I sort of touched on it, you might be shooting twelve hours one day, and then a couple hours the next day to do 5 or 7 minutes... you're shooting an hour for a minute of footage. So then somebody's got the tough job of looking at one segment that's an hour long and cutting it down to 5-7 minutes, then you have to write voice-over - narration that sort of ties it together. So there's a lot that goes into it, I probably have the easiest job, I just have to get full on sweets. [laughs]

Question:
What do you hope the viewers will get from the show?

Adam Gertler:
Aside from having a good time, I hope they walk away learning something about the process and how you make things. A great example would be M&Ms, something we've all grown up eating, or Sno-Balls from Hostess. We actually get to go into those factories and see how you make an M&M. Now, M&Ms have been around for a while, so we focus on the pretzel M&M which is their new thing. But you get to see this huge, 500 pound bag of pretzels, and then it gets tumbled in a chocolate wheel, and then it gets tumbled in another one, and another one and then it goes through another tumbler where you get to spray on the color and the shell, so the next time you look at an M&M, you're going to have a different frame of reference of how that thing happened. It's really fascinating, because the things that we take for granted, you going to learn about it, but it doesn't feel like a dry documentary about how food is made. If you're having fun, then you're getting knowledge and you're gonna learn without thinking you've been taught something.

Question:
Do you have a sweet tooth? And if so, what is your favorite candy?

Adam Gertler:
I do, actually. I really love ice cream, that's kind of my favorite, and there's so much you can do with ice cream, so that's kind of my all time favorite dessert. And anything with bananas and/or peanut butter is immediately my favorite. I love anything made with bananas.

Question:
Do you watch Next Food Network Star in its current season?

Adam Gertler:
Not only do I watch Next Food Network Star, I've been hanging out with a lot of the finalists recently. We're doing a different show on Cooking Channel called Afterparty, which premieres July 18th. It's kind of like, after Food Network Star, you flip over to Cooking Channel, and we've got the person who's just been eliminated, and we talk to Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson. So I'm watching it, I'm very invested in it and I've met some of the finalists, and they're really cool. We can all bond over what we've been through, it's a very unique experience, you really can't know what it's like unless you've been there. I meet these people and we're hugging like I know them, but I've only watched them on TV and they've only seen me on TV, they feel like they know me too. So it's a very interesting brotherhood and sisterhood of Next Food Network Star finalists.

Question:
Could you talk a little bit about the process of the show, from your end? When you first find out what the sweet is going to be, or what the place is going to be, how does it get through you?

Adam Gertler:
Once we've decided on the segment to do, the show is not scripted, but we sort of know what we're going to feature. For example, when we go to Creole Creamery, I know we'll be featuring the roasted beet ice cream or the sweet corn, black pepper and raspberry ice cream. While I might not be researching those specific ice creams, it pays for me to know as much as I can about the process of making ice cream, and the different methods. The gelato method, the regular method, things like overrun, the amount of air incorporated into an ice cream, different percentages of milk or cream, or different kinds of sugar - so that I have a frame of reference when I'm talking to the person, we can move our conversation in an informed way. I have a little bit of background of work, for a very short time I worked as an assistant pastry chef, but I got to make some ice cream, and I got to make crackers and cookies and brownies and breads. I used a lot of that in my restaurant The Smoked Joint, I made all the pie crusts and doughs. The idea that, while I'm certainly everyman for the viewer, and we want to learn, I'm bringing an informed perspective to the table to steer the conversation in an intelligent way that's still fun. I might do a little research on the place, I might eat it if it's possible, like when we go to Hostess and do Sno-Balls, I'll say, I haven't had a Sno-Ball in a while, let me get reconnected with Sno-Balls. So I'm walking into 7-11 and buying Sno-Balls and I'm like, this is work, this is actually my job today. That's kinda fun.

Question:
Considering what happened, do you think that everything worked out for the best for you?

Adam Gertler:
I do. I don't necessarily think it would've been better if I had won, I certainly think the kind of shows I've been doing are more suited to my talent, than if I was doing an in-studio cooking show, which is really the prize of Food Network Star. I actually think Aaron was a better fit for that. Aaron and I become really good friends, and I feel like we both won. I never expected to win that show, so being in the final, I know it sounds really cliche to say, it was an honor to be there - but I was really surprised to be there, and there was no part of me that was disappointed when Aaron's name was announced. It was all so overwhelming. I think it all worked out, I mean, come on, look at how many people get to do things in reality TV shows - when it's over, it's over. I've managed to keep working for a couple years, so I'm very, very lucky.

Question:
What's the most unusual sweet you came across in your travels?

Adam Gertler:
It's kind of hard to top the vanilla wasabi milkshake at Big Top in Austin, Texas, that was pretty unusual. Big Top is like an old school candy shop and soda fountain, where they've got all different syrups and they make everything from scratch, old-fashioned sodas. One of the more modern twists was a wasabi milkshake, and that was just... confusing to me. [laughs] It wasn't terrible, but it was just the two flavors that I was like, 'Am I eating sushi or am I having a milkshake?' I couldn't wrap my head around it. That was very unusual, I think.

The other thing with the sweet corn, black pepper ice cream - very unusual, but totally works. The peppercorns don't make it feel savory, so that's like two sides of the same coin... where one really works and one is just an unusual sweet.

Question:
What was your favorite childhood memory involving an indulgent sweet treat?

Adam Gertler:
My mom is a great baker and she always baked, and still does bake. When we were at Food Network Star finale, she brought brownies for the whole crew, which is pretty unusual. My favorite thing that she would make for me was a really classic chocolate pudding pie, with a graham cracker crust and whipped cream on top. That was probably my favorite thing, mixing whipped cream with chocolate pudding and crust - slightly salty, sweet graham cracker crust. Thinking about that now is awesome.

Question:
Do you think that you'll stick with this kind of show? Or will you eventually parlay into a cooking show? If a cooking show were to come around, would you look into something like that?

Adam Gertler:
I would never say no to something like that, to see if I could do it. I definitely feel more comfortable in this kind of show. I love talking to people and I'm kind of curious in general, I just always want to know why. As a child I was very annoying to my parents and brothers, it was always like, Why? Why? Why? I just wanted to know, and 'Because' was never a good enough answer. So that curiosity works in this kind of format. A cooking show would be a big challenge, but it would also be a lot fun to do. When I'm cooking, people are like, 'You know there's no camera here'. I'm always talking and explaining what I'm doing and I'm very into it. So I'd love to do something like that. I certainly wouldn't say no to it, but it would be more challenging for me.

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