Standard Examiner Feature Article
Front Page (teaser) Page 1 and 2 of the Life Section- June 21, 2008
Eden woman cooks up creativity with KJZZ show
By NANCY VAN VALKENBURG
Two years ago, Los Angeles filmmaker Jennifer Burns bought a peaceful home in Eden, where she could escape the craziness of fast-lane life when she felt like it. Now, Burns has found a way to pack her restful Utah time with more media responsibilities. Burns will host “Cooking Delight,” a half-hour weekly entertainment and cooking show to debut at 4 p.m. a week from today on KJZZ Channel 14, and repeat at 2 p.m. the following afternoon.
“I look at cooking as another art form,” said Burns, who has logged 15 years as a producer of sports documentaries and other films, and in the home entertainment industry. “I want people to have more fun in the kitchen, and feel they can be more creative.”
“Cooking Delight” attempts to spark creativity four ways. First are Burn’s recipes, created to use fresh food and unexpected seasonings for a full sensory experience. (For sample recipes, visit www.cookingdelight.tv.) Next, each episode will feature guests, usually from the creative community or sports world. One early episode features an egg roll cook-off between race-car drivers Christian Fittipaldi and David Murry. And finally, a live band will perform music during each episode, and a visual artist will create a painting inspired by the food, conversation and energy of the episode.
I want to help people who get intimidated in the kitchen to learn to make their own recipes,” Burns said. “You’ll learn your herbs and spices and citruses, the oils and the vinegars, and how to pair them up with meats and side dishes. Then, once you know your tastes and the tastes of those you cook for, you can relax and just have a good time cooking. You can be an artist in your own kitchen.” Fresh ingredients, music, art and conversation: That’s the recipe for the show, Burns said. “I want it to feel like a party in the kitchen. I want people to have fun.”
Comfort food. Burns always had a good relationship with food. I started cooking as a stress reliever, as a way to decompress after long hours at work,” she said. “Food has always been such a positive thing in my life. It's been a way to share time with my family and friends in the kitchen, to share food and love.”
An Atlanta native, Burns learned to cook from her Midwestern mother.
“My sister and I learned to cook a little bit of everything,” she said. “My mother was famous for her soups, and my grandmother was most famous for her fried chicken. Some of my greatest memories are from being in the kitchen.”
As a busy career woman, Burns turned to cooking as a way to relieve stress and share time with friends. But it was after a getaway trip that she looked at food with fresh eyes. “I had some down time, which happens in television, and I went to Costa Rica for five weeks last spring,” she said. “I rented a home and immersed myself in the culture, and the only way I could get food was to boat or bike to the area where it was. It could take all day to get a fish. Every Sunday and Tuesday, a guy sold fruits and vegetables out of a truck. If you missed the truck, you went without. It helped me further appreciate cooking and food. I wanted to enjoy every morsel of food I got my hands on.”
Burns returned to her Utah home (she still keeps one in Los Angeles) and decided she wanted to create live food events. Each one lasted about two hours and included a cooking demonstration, live music and an artist with an empty canvas and paints. “I wanted to engage all the senses and make it a high-energy two hours that was a true event.” She hosted events at ski resorts, at golf clubs and at culinary stores, among other locations.
“At the end of two hours, it was hard to get people to leave,” Burns said, with a laugh. Burns knew she was ready to turn her media knowledge and her passion for food into a new kind of cooking show. She approached KJZZ, which was committed to adding more local programming. “It was an interesting idea, and Jennifer is a real go-getter,” said Dean Paynter, KJZZ’s director of program development. “She manages to pretty much be successful at whatever she does. I like her energy, and I love that fact that she believes in what she does. I figure she has a pretty good formula for success.”
All of Burns’ media experience was behind the camera. But the show’s spokewoman, Stephanie DeGraw, said Burns has a natural talent in front of the camera. “What you see on camera is her true nature, her vibrance,” DeGraw said. “She has what it takes to be successful on all the different levels. And I love the show, and I’m not even a cooking type person. I felt so positive and motivated after seeing a taping of her show. Now I see that cooking could be enjoyable.” That’s just the result Burns wants from her viewers.
“Someone said to me the other day that she learned to enjoy cooking more because she had become more confident,” Burns said. “The way to become confident is to try all different kinds of things. People don’t even want to start. It’s boring to follow a recipe every time. If you try new things, every dish you make builds confidence.”
And who doesn’t love a party? “Utah in general has such an incredible music and arts scene,” Burns said. “People who visit don’t expect the plethora of music, art and event choices you have here. The quality level of the talent pool is phenomenal. “I absolutely love what I’m doing on this show, and I can’t say that about some of my past jobs. This job, I am doing for my true passion and love.”