Raleigh-based television producer Theresa Dalton gives direction from behind the scenes while filming an episode of “Flavor, NC,” a series devoted to North Carolina food that begins its latest season Thursday night on UNC-TV.
The film crew – Dalton, a cameraman and an assistant – are set up in the basement event space of Sitti restaurant in downtown Raleigh. For an episode devoted to local honey, Sitti’s executive chef Matt Scofield is showing host Lisa Prince how to make baklava, a Greek dessert that combines honey, nuts and layers of puff pastry.
The action occurs in fits and starts, depending on what Dalton thinks will make the final cut. This makes watching the filming tedious – like that saying about how you never want to watch laws or sausage being made –and not nearly as enjoyable as watching a finished episode.
The show, which airs at 10 p.m. Thursdays, is entering its third season and has a strong following among UNC-TV viewers, according to station officials. Beyond filming the third season this year, Dalton also will film a “Flavor, NC” holiday special to air next fall.
Although ratings aren’t available for “Flavor, NC,” UNC-TV’s director of production, Shannon Vickery, said the show is very popular with viewers who are interested in buying and cooking local food. “It’s really a great series because it combines locally grown agriculture from across North Carolina and putting it to work with some of the top chefs in the state as well.”
The idea for the show came to Dalton because of her personal interest in cooking shows and realizing how vibrant the food scene is in the Triangle and beyond. “Every time you turn around, there’s something new to try,” said Dalton, whose previous credits include “Cruisin Carolina,” a show that explored the state’s coastal communities.
Armed with the idea, Dalton needed a host, which she found in Lisa Prince, who also does “Local Dish,” a cooking segment on WRAL with reporter and anchor Brian Shrader.
Prince, 43, of Fuquay-Varina, brings a next-door-neighbor quality to the show. “She’s so authentic. She’s such a natural,” Dalton said. “She asks the questions that we all would ask if we had the opportunity.”
This season’s 10 half-hour episodes will take viewers to Pine Knot farm near Hillsborough, where farmer Stanley Hughes grows collards; and then to the kitchen at Sprout Cafe, where chef Rodney Lloyd shows how to make a fried-collard sandwich. (A what? Sauteed collards and a slice of cola-glazed ham served between a slice of cornbread or two cornbread pancakes. To see the recipe, go to flavornc.com/category/recipes/) .
Other episodes will explore such ingredients as catfish, soft shell crabs, peanuts, artisan cheese and locally made vodka. And, understandably, Dalton said, “I love my job.”