We were psyched to shoot the pilot episode for “Meal Ticket,” a new reality show that reveals the drama behind one of today’s hottest and most competitive industries – the food and restaurant business.

Andrew (gaffer) with the apprentice chefs before the 1st shot of the day.

Meal Ticket’s writer-director Daniel Lee Simmons called on our Tampa video production company for the jam-packed three-day shoot in Citrus Country, Florida. Over the course of one dizzying weekend, 12 up-and-coming culinary students worked in groups under the guidance of four big-name chefs – Joseph “Jo-Jo” Doyle of the legendary racetrack Churchill Downs, celebrity personal chef Alex Conant, Top Chef Season Two’s Carlos Fernandez, and large-scale event chef Michael Blase of Taste of Chicago – to cook a show-stopping feast for 300. CBS sports reporter and radio personality Roxanne Wilder served as the episode’s host.

The Litewave Media film crew with the cast of Meal Ticket.

The action brought us from a huge prep kitchen at Key Training Center to legendary dining spots like Ike’s Old Florida Kitchen at the Izaak Walton Lodge and Neon Leon’s. Brutal time constraints, head scratching ingredients (water buffalo, anyone?), and back-home emergencies ensured there was never a dull moment!

The four celebrity chefs get ready to judge a cook-off competition.

Litewave’s experience producing reality series like Paradise Pawn and TLC’s Extreme Couponing, and live action TV shows like Shark Tank and The Chew proved invaluable on Meal Ticket’s high pressure set. “Working on reality shows is all about spontaneity. That crucial dramatic moment will happen in an instant, so the crew has to be there and ready to capture all the unscripted action,” says Litewave Media founder Christian Schwier. “We stayed on top of everything and got all the footage needed to tell a great story.”

Christian (producer/camera) and Mike (sound) capture an on-the-fly interview at the big event.

Indeed, our seasoned Tampa video crew had it covered: Schwier produced the shoot and served as lead camera operator alongside Taylor Girard and Andrew Ortoski, who also handled lighting. Mike Stahr joined us as sound technician, while makeup artist Rachel Lappe kept everyone looking camera-ready. Our all-star PA Adrian Hall supported the team throughout.

Christian and Rachel (make-up) with Carlos of Top Chef Season 2.

We’ll keep you posted on Meal Ticket as it seeks distribution. Watch our blog and like us on Facebook to keep up with all Litewave Media’s projects. Do you have a video project coming up? Contact our Tampa production studio today for a free consultation.

Our PA Adrian gets ready to slate host Roxanne before a live audience of 300 people.