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Bittman behind the scenes: See the food wizard at work in TODAY's kitchen

April 25, 2012 at 4:20 PM ET

Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes in the TODAY show kitchen? Well first thing this morning I hopped into the studio, camera in hand, to find out! Food writer Mark Bittman was on the show to explain his three ways to jazz up pasta dishes. Scroll with caution, as stomach grumbling is likely to occur.

Katie Quinn / TODAY.com /
Mark Bittman arrives in the TODAY studio kitchen before his segment to go over plans with food stylist Lish Steiling and his producer Patricia Luchsinger. Early mornings don't hamper his sense of humor, he cracks up Lish before the clock strikes 8am.
Katie Quinn / TODAY.com /
Mark and the crew know when each shot will be (the teases and the segment) thanks to the handy board hanging on the wall. You can see that after Mark's segment, the kitchen team will prepare for Martha Stewart's segment in the 9 o'clock hour.
Katie Quinn / TODAY.com /
Shortly after Mark arrives in the studio (around 7:20am), he heads to the crew kitchen for breakfast. He decides on half a sesame bagel with peanut butter. Though he prefers peanut butter made simply from ground peanuts with a little salt added, he settles for what's available...a brand that adds everything from sugar to hydrogenated vegetable oils. Can't be too picky this early in the morning, huh?
Katie Quinn / TODAY.com /
In order to prepare for Mark's segment, the TODAY culinary team has all of the raw ingredients ready (left, spaghetti, and right, fresh mint). Any advance preparation that can be done the day before is at hand, but most of the elements need to be executed that morning.
Katie Quinn / TODAY.com /
Right before one of Mark's live shots to tease his upcoming segment, he cracks a joke that has his producer, Patricia Luchsinger, and food stylist, Lish Steiling, chuckling quietly in the corner of the kitchens, while other onlookers (including a special guest, the mother of TODAY Executive Producer Jim Bell) watch him grate nutmeg like a pro.
Katie Quinn / TODAY.com /
Grated nutmeg goes great with most spinach dishes, so a few hefty swipes of on a zester to top off the cream spinach and angel hair dish is a good call.
Katie Quinn / TODAY.com /
TODAY's Matt Lauer joins in on the kitchen fun for the on-air segment. Here, he watches as Mark cracks an egg in the pan with sauteed leeks, which will then be mixed with crispy bacon and tossed with spaghetti.
Katie Quinn / TODAY.com /
Mark Bittman prepares fresh spring peas for his tagliatelle dish as his producer Patricia Luchsinger and a TODAY food stylist, Ali Simpson, hang back to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Katie Quinn / TODAY.com /
Ready to run a race, Mark wears his sneakers in the TODAY studio. Comfort trumps fashion where the cameras can't see!
Katie Quinn / TODAY.com /
Left, the spinach was mixed with cream and butter (a winning combination!) and, right, the peas are sauteed in olive oil with Thai chili, with some mint and pecorino cheese sprinkled in.
Katie Quinn / TODAY.com /
The tagliatelle with peas, pecorino, chili and mint was spicier than most of the TODAY crew expected, forgetting that the olive oil, which coated the peas, was infused with hot chili. Of course, that didn't stop anyone from scarfing the dish after the segment aired.
Katie Quinn / TODAY.com /
Mark Bittman's spaghetti with leeks, bacon and eggs is so beautiful in its combination of delicious ingredients I almost didn't want to disturb it by having a bite (but, of course, I did and it was well worth it).
Katie Quinn / TODAY.com /
Moments after the segment ends, the crew starts to dig in. Fast forward five minutes and it will all be gone. We're a hungry bunch at TODAY!

 

To see more of Mark backstage, check out this video about head food stylist, Bianca Henry, featuring Mark's segment about how to make bread pudding. 

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Katie Quinn is a TODAY.com video producer who will eagerly slurp up a bowl of pasta whether it's morning, noon or night. Especially if it has bacon in it.

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