As part of the Beyond Reality interview series, I interviewed Brendan Garlick, a home economist who has worked on shows such as Masterchef, MKR and The Great Australian Bake Off. I find out how Brendan went from reality TV contestant to working on some of Australia’s favourite food formats.

To listen to the full interview, check out the Beyond Reality podcast here: Beyond Reality – Brendan Garlick.

Did you always want to work in TV?

I fell into reality TV. I was a contestant on a reality show first of all, nearly ten years ago and then two years later I was in reality TV working on MKR. I knew I wanted to work in the food business and then TV came along and it was food-related.

Did you go to University and if so, what did you study?

I studied a business degree at university and my major was hospitality management and then did electives in food science.

 What was your first job in reality TV and how did you land it?

My first job in television was as a food assistant on MKR. After I was on Bake Off, I made friends with the food producer and her assistants and I kept bugging them for a year and a half! Eventually, they put me in contact with the food producer of MKR and that’s how I landed my first job in TV.

What is the role of the food team in reality TV?

On a reality show, the food team deals with anything that’s edible. There could be pantries to build, there could be ingredients to set or testing recipes to make sure the challenges can be completed in a certain amount of time. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to food.

To work in the food team, is it essential to have professional training in cooking?

It is essential to have some knowledge of food and it’s beneficial to have training behind you. You definitely need a solid passion for food because you’re around it 24/7. There’s always a fully trained chef and varying levels of experience across the rest of the team. The more you know about food and the more you can demonstrate your knowledge of food, the further you will get.

 What different roles have you done in reality TV and how did you get to where you are now?

I started as a food assistant but one of the hardest things when you’re starting out is finding consistency in roles so after that, I did some running work on House Rules far away from the kitchen and then I also worked in the art department for Bake Off and The Chef’s Line. The thing about working in the food team in reality TV is that there’s only one or two food shows filming at one time so it’s harder to maintain consistent work.

What’s your best piece of advice for someone starting out in TV?

The most important thing is to have a passion for food. The best way to set yourself up is to do a short course or TAFE course involving food so that you can learn the basic principles and from there you can learn a lot on the job.

 

Want to hear more stories from the people behind the TV shows you love? Check out my interviews with Post Producer and Story Producer, Kaite Milicich or Sound Recordist, Nick Peterson.

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