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Brian Fleck, I am Going to Kill You

Before I talk a bit about this episode, I have to get something off my chest…. Fleck – you’re toast. T. O. A. S. T.

See, way back when the Project X team sat down to brainstorm themes for all of the episodes, the notion of doing a show on food came up. While heading off to lunch that day with Kenton Vaughan, Project X Story Producer & frequent Director, I mentioned that if we were doing food, I *had* to do a segment on molecular gastronomy.

I’m a huge food nerd. I cut my guest list so I could have my wedding at my favourite restaurant. When I travel, I forego tourist attractions in favour of famed restaurants. I hang out on food-related forums on the internet. Heck, I even took cake decorating classes. So I had a purely selfish interest in tackling the notion of molecular gastronomy for the show – I wanted to try it out, and eat all the amazing creations.

Kenton burst my bubble and said that because he had just shot a similar story for The Nature of Things, profiling Colborne Lane Chef Claudio Aprile for a documentary on the science of taste and smell, Project X would have to tell some other story. End of story.

Or so I thought.

The other hosts and I don’t run into each other that much and over the course of production, I often didn’t know what the guys were up to for their segments. I got a few bits of intelligence from the episode’s directors, but a lot of times I didn’t know that totality of what they’d covered until I saw the final voiceover scripts, long after the episodes had been shot and edited together.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I’m poring over the Food voiceover script just a few short weeks ago and find a segment labelled “Moto”. Two syllables instantly recognizable to a food geek. I frantically flip the page and to my horror, my suspicions are confirmed. Somebody goes to Chicago to hang out in Homaro Cantu’s kitchen. And do all the things I wanted to do. And eat all the things I wanted to eat.

You’re toast, buddy.

Kenton did manage to make up for it though – he let me tag along to Colborne Lane for the wrap party for his Nature of Things episode. It was an amazing meal and I’ve found a new favourite Toronto restaurant.

With my few remaining words, I’ll mention a couple things about this episode. First, I was totally excited to actually be genotyped for something, especially something neat like caffeine response. As someone who deals with genomes and gene sequences all day long, it was really neat to get my first peek at my own DNA. It confirmed what I suspected – though I’m not a total tweaker when it comes to coffee, I gotta avoid that stuff in the afternoon and evening if I have any hope of getting to sleep that night.

Dr. El-Sohemy was a pretty cool dude and was in my hometown of Vancouver giving a lecture on nutrigenomics not long after we shot his interview. I brought my Dad, who’s quite interested in how our genetic background influences our response to food and we both enjoyed Dr. El-Shomey and the other speakers. One of the lecturers brought up an interesting fact we don’t mention in the show – apart from salt, every single thing we eat is either a plant (or was a plant), or ate a plant at some point. Plants are full of thousands of small molecules and researchers don’t know how individual people respond to most of these – are the toxic, beneficial, or what?

That same lecturer also told an interesting story about the male inhabitants of an island, a huge proportion of whom came down with a neurological disorder not dissimilar to mad cow disease. The villagers had known for centuries that one of the plants they used to get flour from could cause this disease, but they were careful to remove the part of the plant responsible before milling it. Well it turns out that the island’s bats weren’t so discriminating and would eat the whole seed. The men of the village would enjoy a nice bat stew to enhance their virility and were being poisoned by the secondhand seeds!

And that trip about the Pure Mussel? Holy crap, that was cold. We shot that in early December out on PEI, which looked simply stunning buried beneath a white blanket of snow. On land we were a bit chilly, but when we got out on the water… phwoar! I could have been really into that if it were shot right after the heat chamber from last week’s episode! We made it out to PEI just in time – a few more days and the harbour would have been frozen so solid that the mussel harvesters would have had to resort to their winter farming method – driving little 4x4s out on the ice and drilling through the surface to dredge up mussels. They’ve had a few close calls with the vehicles going under the ice and we didn’t want to end up in the Hypothermia episode of Project X!

And that’s all she wrote. Normally I’d tell you what was coming up next week but Food marks the last of the eight episodes of Project X. It was an absolute blast to be a part of, and I hope you had as much fun watching the show as I did making it. On behalf of everyone on the Project X team, thanks for watching, and stay curious!


Please come back next season!!!