CARBONDALE – “Food is Love,” a television show hosted by Lasse Sorensen, owner and chef of Tom’s Place in De Soto and produced by Carterville-based Dark Horse Cinematics, recently won four Midwest Emmy Award nominations. The program, which explores The rich culinary culture of Saint-Louis, restaurants and chefs, airs on Nine PBS, the city’s affiliate public television.
Four of the seven productions nominated in the “Human Interest – Long-Running Content” category for the Midwest Division of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences involved episodes of “Food is Love,” including including the series pilot program. All of the nominations were for programs from the show’s first season. Filming for the second season is underway.
An Arkansas Wildlife TV show, a Kansas City affiliate PBS show, and a show on WGEM-TV in Quincy, Illinois were also nominated.
Dark Horse Cinematics executive producer Jason Pinkston said it was quite an honor for a production to be honored not with one, but four nominations in its first year on air.
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“It’s very crazy,” he said. “It’s not something we expected and it’s very surprising, but having said that, we have such a response from people about the show, I know it was something special.”
“Food is Love” was invented by Sorensen, who was encouraged to produce a show by executives of KETC-TV, the PBS subsidiary in St. Louis. They had seen him on a national television show. Sorensen liked the idea and contacted Pinkston, with whom he had worked on some segments of local television. Once the chef raised the funds for the production, plans for a pilot episode began.
From the start, Sorensen stressed that “Food is Love” had to be different.
“The idea of the show is that I talk to chefs and explain why they cook like they cook,” he explained. “I didn’t want to show up to a restaurant, take a bite of something and say how fantastic it was or show those screaming matches in the kitchen, because it’s unrealistic.”
Pinkston shared with Sorensen that a plan for the pilot episode had been created, matching the chef’s vision and shared with KETC. He remembered the meeting well.
“We went in and showed them the pilot and as soon as the credits started rolling they said, ‘We’re going to take a whole season,’ he said.
That meant 13 episodes, each taking hours or days of filming and post-production time for episodes under 27 minutes. The series was recently extended for five more seasons.
“We’re a great team because what I bring is the ability to research restaurants, talk to chefs and ask the right questions,” Sorensen said. “Jason can put it all together and make a great store. What he offers amazes me.
Pinkston said the nominations are an honor.
“I guess it’s kind of a validation because it makes sense, but even more than what it means to me, I’ve seen how it impacts these restaurants,” he said.
“Food is Love” isn’t the only local nominee. Matt Linsin, director of creative services and marketing at WSIL-TV is also up for an Emmy. Linsin’s one-place PSA “I’m wearing a mask” is one of six nominees in the PSA category.
The Midwest Emmy Contest is one of five regional award systems. The winners will be announced on Thursday.