Not Just Me

Standard

As this semester winds down, I decided to try a little something different here on Taste of the Plains.

Instead of giving you tips on where I think you should go for dinner this weekend, I thought I’d ask a few of my Auburn journalism professors about their favorite dining spots. Take a look at what they said.

Dr. Sally Anne Cruikshank, Digital News Production and Digital News Reporting:

“I’d have to say my favorite would probably be Acre. The food is fresh, creative, and always good. (I especially love their brunch.) The bar there also has a very cool vibe.”

Dr. John Carvalho, Reporting and Sports Reporting:

“My favorite place is Kitchen 3810 on Opelika Highway. It is like a meat and 3 place that is done really well. They don’t overwhelm you with heavy entrees and vegetables. Their selection of meats is excellent and they do them excellent. And the people who run the place and who work there are terrific. Great place.”

And finally, Dr. Michael Fuhlhage, Multimedia Journalism and Journalism History:

“My go-to is Durango, where you will find the best soft corn tacos outside Mexico. Get the tacos de carnitas and tacos al pastor. They are beyond amazing.”

Well, there you have it. The go-to restaurants for three of Auburn’s finest–and I don’t just say that because they give out the grades.

Looks like Dr. Cruikshank and I are on the same page about Acre (minus the bar part, I still have a week and a half to go til I’m 21).

But I’ll have to give Durango and Kitchen 3800 a try. I’ve never been to either!

 

Final Acre Project

Standard

Acre has been one of my favorite restaurant experiences of my college career. That’s huge coming from me.

So when I needed a video story idea, I almost immediately knew that I wanted to do a story on Acre in some way. I wanted to convey a little of that experience to you, my lovely readers.

Sorting through the ideas for story direction was a challenge. However, I ended up choosing to tell the story of the vision of Acre and what they do differently through the executive chef himself, David Bancroft.

I had a lot of excellent interview snippets to weave together. The hard part was picking which ones help me get the flow right.

It wasn’t all kicks and giggles, though. I had to work around a few things.

The first and most stressful challenge I faced was that when I went in at our scheduled time Monday, Bancroft wasn’t there. Sadly, he was attending a funeral and had lost my number to let me know. He also didn’t mention to his staff that I’d be coming.

Thankfully I was able to get in touch with him and set up a time for the next day.

When time to shoot came, I faced the new challenge of working with a location that used mostly natural light. As it turns out, my efforts to angle the light in my favor gave me a lot of really cool video.

Sure, some shots I really wanted to use were too dark and I had to leave them out for the integrity of the rest of the video, but that’s why we always follow Dr. Fuhlhage’s advice to over-shoot the B-roll.

Also, I had perfect light outside. And I really loved the way the wind added movement to the plants. That just turned out cool.

Another challenge I faced while shooting was that I was unable to use the tripod most of the time. I had to respect Bancroft’s request that I not get in the way of the staff. The tripod made that impossible.

So I braced myself, literally. I was in all kinds of positions trying to use a counter, a wall or pretty much anything to steady my shots as much as humanly possible.

The biggest challenge was making sure all these things–the interview, the lighting and the steadier shots–formed the story I wanted to tell. I’m happy to say, it turned out great.

For my next video project, I think I’ll do my best to plan two filming days. That way I can look back at the first day’s shots and interview and see what I think I should add to it.

If that’s not possible. I’ll look back at my shots halfway through filming time and see what to add.

Take a look at the final product:

 

 

Here are two other video stories that I think are worth a watch.

The Red Lion Inn: A Farm Fresh Update to a Historic Restaurant by Food Curated is like what I was trying to do with Acre. I love how they connected all the dots between the farm and the restaurant. They show how the Red Lion Inn is different, like was doing with Acre.

Drawn to Fire: Chef Jeremy Stanton of The Meat Market, also by Food Curated, does something that I originally was going to do with Acre. It shows the chef’s passion for his craft. In my case, the story just formed more naturally to focus on the restaurant.

 

 

Competition Shows in Food TV

Standard

I’m the first to admit that I enjoy watching food TV.

The first channel I turn to when I flip on the television? Food Network, obviously.

There’s just something that fascinates me about all the different ways to prepare food. And I love when shows feature restaurants, like on “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” or “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”

But lately, Food Network has shifted to competition shows. The instructional and friendlier shows are now restricted to the Cooking Channel or the daytime lineup, for the most part.

Now primetime features “Chopped,” “Cupcake Wars,” “America’s Best Cook,” “Cutthroat Kitchen,” “Beat Bobby Flay” and more picking tons of chefs who feel they need to “validate” themselves by beating everyone else.

The one that really bugs me is “Beat Bobby Flay.” The whole world knows he’s an amazing chef. He knows it, too, obviously.

But now there’s a show where other big time chefs try to pick people to beat him and say things like, “You’re gonna need more than that to take him down!” throughout the competition.

Hello, ego trip.

I do enjoy watching competition shows, but it has started to bother me that they seem to become all about proving yourself.

I could go on, but then I think I’d lose you all in my rant.

That’s my opinion, what do you think?

 

Five-Shot Sequence

Standard

After working with video in Digital News Production and Digital News Reporting, I thought I had it down.

But trying to use video to tell a story in a way that I won’t be manipulating with my own narration in editing is tough.

Yet tackling it will only help me in the future.

Like Mark Briggs writes in chapter eight of “Journalism Next:” “Those who go on to journalism school will graduate with a broader array of skills than most of the experienced journalists working today.”

When I graduate from Auburn, I will know how to shoot, edit and tell visual stories both for news and for more documentary-style stories. As someone hoping to go into magazines, which are going through their own digital evolution, this is going to make me a marketable job applicant.

Writing is wonderful and I love it, otherwise I wouldn’t be in the field that I’m in. But skills in writing aren’t enough anymore.

So though it stresses me out sometimes, being able to produce video work that my teachers are asking me to this semester will truly help me as I apply for jobs. I won’t be floundering in the digital world.

As I began to tackle this 5-shot sequence, I knew I wanted to do a food how-to. So I thought of something simple–if I have to focus on shots being in order I didn’t want to worry about capturing a billion steps.

It seemed tedious to me at first, but then I read chapter five of Kenneth Kobre’s “Videojournalism: Multimedia Storytelling.” In the section on shooting sequences he writes, “Just as goods in the pantry don’t make a meal until the proper ingredients are mixed in a recipe, all those shots seem unrelated only until it’s time for the final edit.”

Wow, how true that is.

As I shot, I started to think about flow and how things would work together in the final product. That’s when the sequence started coming together.

In the video below, my friend Sarah Crawford shows us how to make a popular party snack–Golden Grahams Candy.

Take a look:

Coming up with the sequence turned out to be easier than I thought. The difficulties came when I realized that I had taken seven-second shots and not all of them were sturdy.

Due to nowhere to fit the tripod, I practiced bracing as I filmed. I am apparently not quite as balanced as I once thought. I found a few places that shook during editing that I hadn’t noticed in the field.

So lesson one: take way longer footage of each shot so I can ensure stable video.

The other problem I encountered was that my friend spoke a little too quickly in her video. I had to separate sentences in editing.

Lesson two: ask the interviewing to speak slowly and clearly.

These were the two issues that jumped out at me. So now if I were to tackle a larger news video, I would know to cover my butt with tons more B-roll and exert a little more direction/control in the interview.

Overall, I like this piece. I think I could produce similar videos for how-to features at the magazine I’ll be interning at over the summer. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be one of the first interns to take the challenge to work in multimedia at Alabama Magazine!

Who Came Up With the Doritos Locos Taco?

Standard

Taco Bell just released its new breakfast menu.

And all the college guys I know said, “Amen.”

The Waffle Taco, Cinnabon Delights, A.M. Crunchwrap and other new features have been the talk of the town in the fast food industry. For weeks, people have been speculating if Taco Bell would take over McDonald’s breakfast market.

Well, that remains to be seen. But one thing I have noticed is that the new craze has brought up a little reminder of the success of the Doritos Locos Taco.

I saw an article on Yahoo! today about former Taco Bell interns trying to take credit for the creation of the cheesy-shelled creation. Then I followed a few links.

Here are a few I found:

Former Taco Bell interns claim these photos prove they invented Doritos Locos Tacos

Taco Bell Sued By Prisoner for ‘Stealing’ Doritos Locos Idea

And the one that seems to be the Taco Bell-credited story:

Doritos Locos Tacos visionary dies at 41

I guess when something gains such a cult following, everyone wants to claim it.

Who do you think came up with it? (Was it you?)

 

Battle of the Breakfast Giants

Standard

In Taylor Swifts song “22,” the blond-haired country-pop star sings, “It feels like a perfect night/ For breakfast at midnight.”

Well, seems like quite a few Auburn students agree. Most anyone you ask will say they’ve had a midnight, or more popularly 2 a.m., breakfast at one of two places: Waffle House or IHOP.

But where do students most like to go to satisfy their late-night hankerings? Check out this Storify I made to find out.

Which do you prefer?

 

Here’s the link, if the hyperlink is acting up: https://storify.com/mksherer/battle-of-the-breakfast-giants.

 

 

 

Cakeapota-what?

Standard

“Let them eat cake,” Marie Antoinette supposedly once said.

Well, visit Cakeapotamus on Pepperell Parkway in Opelika and it’s obvious owner Amanda “Mandi” Buckalew has a similar message. However, Buckalew’s cakes are definitely not what the late French queen had in mind.

From sculpted “Harry Potter” Sorting Hats and Darth Vader riding a unicorn to stylish wedding and baby shower cakes, Buckalew has done it all.

“My clientele want 50-50 something nobody’s ever heard of or just something pretty,” she said.

She doesn’t discourage the quirky requests, though. In fact, the bakery itself practically begs customers to add to Buckalew’s unique portfolio (viewable in the photos on the bakery’s Facebook page).

Paraphernalia from “Dr. Who,” “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” litters nooks and crannies around the two-room shop. The walls are decorated with pictures from various parties held at “the Cakepot,” including princess tea parties and one “Star Wars”/”Ghost Busters” hybrid party for a 5-year-old girl. One wall bears a pink-painted bass fish on a plaque.

“It has a lot of character,” Buckalew said. “We have a lot of regulars and people who participate and wonderful things are happening.”

These wonderful things include active participation in events announced on the Cakeapotamus Facebook group. One such event was a field trip to the sing-a-long version of “Frozen” recently.

Buckalew credits the success of her shop to its unique style and her personal approach to owning a bakery.

“I opened in an old millhouse, not a strip mall,” she said. “And I decorated it with ‘Batman’ and ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Star Wars’ because that’s what I like.That resonates with people.”

Buckalew said owning and operating Cakeapotamus is her “happily ever after job.” As she lives out her fairytale, her shop allows customers to ride along.

 

For more information on Cakeapotamus, check out the website and Facebook page.