FR Test Kitchen Interview: Zak Pelaccio

Yesterday we were reporting live from the Food Republic Test Kitchen at Little Owl The Venue in New York's West Village — featuring interviews, anecdotes and fun with fire.

Our vibrant columnist Zak Pelaccio stopped by the Test Kitchen for a story about writing voiceovers for The Food Network—and his "reluctant" transition to the kitchen fulltime. It seems to have worked out pretty well for him.

As a kid growing up did you watch cooking shows?

No, I didn't watch cooking shows on TV because there weren't that many cooking shows when I was growing up.

What about the Food Network?

I actually wrote for the Food Network when I was right out of college and sort of floating around. When I was younger I was into cinema. I used to watch a lot of movies—things like film noir.

What did you write for The Food Network?

I was writing scripts for a show called Dining Around with Alan Richman and Nina Griscom. I wrote the scripts for the voiceovers at the restaurants. They'd go and film in restaurants all over and I'd get the footage and the angle that they wanted and I would write the voiceover about the food.

Any memorable restaurants that come to mind?

There was one place, Torre di Pisa, that was actually interesting. It was an early David Rockwell design. Stylistically I guess he was finding his voice. It was so over the top. Huge giant chairs and it was very theatrical in its design.

Before everybody was doing that in Midtown...

Right, before it was more prominent. And before he started designing tons and tons of restaurants. So that was an interesting place. I would go with the camerman and make sure he shot certain things, or that he was getting the right dishes.

And then you decided to go into the kitchen fulltime?

I did go into the kitchen. Reluctantly. I mean, I was interested in that I loved to cook and I was in and out of the kitchen for awhile. I had convinced myself early on that actually working as a chef wasn't a job that I would seriously pursue. It didn't seem to make a lot of sense for me or have a lot of longevity. I didn't consider it a real intellectual pursuit. I enjoyed food and I liked writing and it seemed to work at the time and I was sort of finding myself. Still am.