In our second installment of ScreenView, we sat down with Pablo Muñoz, director and culinary producer at Canteen specializing in food related media. He has directed food shoots for major networks and brands including cooking shows, television and web advertisements, as well as social media campaigns.
His multi-faceted, multi-hyphenated career has deep roots in food. He has been a chef for over 12 years, a professional food stylist & culinary producer for 10 years, producing Emmy nominated cooking shows for various networks.
Pablo’s unique background allows him a thorough understanding of not only how to create and produce culinary content across different mediums, but also how to direct and construct shots, from simple recipe how-to videos, to the more complex food action and effects.
- How did you get started in the industry? Did you always know that you wanted to work in food, or was there a specific moment that influenced you?
I used to watch great chefs of the east on discovery channel as a kid and really loved watching them in their commercial kitchens cooking in their pristine white chef coats. They had absolutely no personalities; really just showed off their techniques with amazing food. Then, Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay came along. That sealed the deal. Those guys made food cool. After working as a chef for 10 plus years, I was brought an opportunity to work on a cooking show with none other than the man that inspired me to become a chef, Bobby Flay. I immediately drew similarities in the restaurant business and television production business. Both require thick skin, abilities to multi-task and to solve problems on the fly quickly to ultimately create an experience. I loved every minute of it. Production was my next logical step.
- Who’s your favorite food celebrity to work with?I really enjoy working with Bobby Flay. He’s been around for a really long time on tv, knows the business inside and out, and is loyal to his staff as long as they give him their all. I respect that he has worked his ass off to get to where he is and continues to work hard at all his endeavors. It is amazing to watch a master work at his craft, both chef and star.
- What’s the most exciting thing you’ve worked on in the last year?
A Carla Hall “salt” commercial spec that we shot earlier this year. It was awesome to see her really get into the shoot especially the voice-over script where we really nailed finding her voice.
- What’s the life of a Food Network star really like?Life of a Food Network star is BUSY. A lot of popular chefs have their own show or shows, plus make appearances on each others’ shows, or appear as judges on various competition shows. They may have their restaurants, cookbooks, line of cookware and endorsement deals keeping them even more busy.
- Do you think food & tabletop work gets the recognition it deserves?
With such an influx of food media, content and accessible platforms created by ever-changing technology, food has more avenues than ever to advertise and when you flood any market you drive down the cost of it or the value of the work of specialists. This means that clients, specifically in the tabletop world are working more & more in a time-pressured environment – quicker turnarounds, often lower budgets to achieve masterful & delicious-looking products. I have seen commercials made hastily by non tabletop directors, stylists, etc.. and I feel that you can tell the difference in the quality of the work. As artists, we, of course are harsher critics, but sometimes a client may not notice or care to notice how to make food look exceptionally great on screen. Understanding the commoditization of media (and food) in general, I love working with people who have a deep understanding & appreciation for the way food should be shot.
- What skills do you need to be a successful director these days?
If you are going into the world of tabletop production, you should have an above average grasp of food and how it will relate to being on screen – from the ground up. Camera angles and movement, lighting techniques, food styling, and props and rigging needs. This will give you a leg up on making sure what you commit to shooting is friggin gorgeous and 100% attainable.
- Which ingredient or dish are you tired of seeing on menus?
Brussels sprouts. Everyone is deep frying them, putting them on pizzas, and turning them into appetizers. Love them, but I’m all Brussel-sprouted out.
- Who is the person you most admire in the food industry right now?
Chef Jose Andres and his World Central Kitchen. I was deeply moved by his act of going to Puerto Rico to help feed those in need. The magnitude of his contribution there is immeasurable. He continues to be proactive with his World Central Kitchen making a difference because he can, and all this with almost 30 amazing restaurants and eateries to his name. The man is a machine and continues to inspire.
- What one meal could you eat for the rest of your life?
Fettuccini Alfredo. It was the first dish I was taught to make by an Ecuadorian chef in a classic Italian restaurant. Go figure. The recipe I learned is not common believe it or not, but will clog your arteries within seconds of even reading the recipe. The sauce is heavy cream, with a whopping dollop of butter that gets reduced down a tad, then poured over fresh egg fettuccini noodles that have been strained straight out of boiling, salted water, then stirring vigorously, you throw an egg yolk and a palm full of parmesan cheese in. The egg yolk and cheese thicken the sauce with the remaining and heat and serve. It is so good, your heart races just before it stops. I just adore this dish.
- If you could invite 3 people (living or dead) to share a meal with, who would that be?
I love food, comedy and music.
Get a glimpse of Pablo’s TableTop reel here: https://vimeo.com/177120381