Shooting the Breeze with Brian Boitano

By: Sommer
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brian-joanne

It’s 8:00a, and there is a Food Network crew setting up a photo shoot in (Olympic ice skater) Brian Boitano’s house, and he’s not home. What does Brian Boitano have to do with Food Network? Well, as it turns out, not only is Brian Boitano an Olympic athlete, he’s also an outstanding home cook and an entertainer extraordinaire.

Enter Joanne Harmon, Design Director for Food Network, or actually enter me, into Joanne’s office to chat about hanging out with the star of our newest show, What Would Brian Botaino Make. Here’s the skinny from casa de Boitano:

SOMMER: I am soooo jealous that you got to go to the Brian Boitano shoot. I know everyone in the Creative Services department was trying to figure out how to get to go. Especially after seeing him on camera, the buzz for the show inside of Food Network is insane. Where was it?

JOANNE: It was in his amazingly beautiful house in San Francisco. The show is shot in his actual house, since he entertains his friends a lot on the series. This is also why we did the photo shoot there, to capture the essence of the series.

S: Oooh, what was it like being inside of his place, was it strange?

J: No, we got there around 8:00 in the morning, and he let us (the crew and Creative Services FN reps) inside of his house, showed us around, and left to go train and workout. So, while he was gone, I set everything up for the photo shoot, using all his own wonderful textiles and ceramics. Like his gold embossed star decorated chargers (plates), star decorated napkin rings, and sunny yellow and orange tablecloths. He had so many wonderful place settings and things to choose from, you could tell that this is a man who clearly entertains. And on top of all that, his place overlooks the bay… it’s really breathtaking.

S: His home sounds gorgeous!

J: Well the view was beautiful. And it was surreal shooting with him, and seeing all of his medals and trophies walking through the house, because I used to be an ice skater–a really bad one, good at falling.

S: (laughs) No way?! Did you tell him that you used to skate?

J: Yep, we were talking and I said to him, “I have a confession, I used to ice skate.” And he was so kind, and asked me what level I got to. I told him that I actually used to ice dance, which is literally when you dance on the ice - waltzes, things of that nature.

S: So, wow, that’s so kind that he showed genuine interest, he’s sounds super down to earth.

J: Honestly, I would totally want to hang out with him as a friend. He knows the city very well, especially from a food perspective. He knows where to go to get the best ingredients, like the farmer’s market (http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/). He let us spend the whole day shooting in his home, even though initially he didn’t have the whole day to give. But he was very gracious with his time and really opened his home, literally, to all of us–about 10 of us (total) and was completely casual. I was delightfully surprised at how into the shoot he was. He is just naturally very funny and made all of us feel comfortable in his house

S: Okay, lastly and most importantly to me, did he cook for you guys?

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J: Well, he cooked specifically for the shoot, which is a very stop and start type of thing, so we didn’t get to try any of his food. I believe that he cooked a Caprese panini with mozzarella, tomato, basil. After getting to actual dialogue with him about food and layering flavors, I’d love to be invited to any dinner party and [would] eat anything he made because he really knows and loves food. What would Brian Boitano make? He’d make me something good to eat. (laughs)

S: I am totally stowing away next time. Or maybe it will just be easier to watch the show and pretend like I’m hanging out at his house.

J: Yeah, that’s probably less of a felony.
S: Too true.
Sommer, Creative Services

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Brian Boitano Bio

Few athletes have enjoyed the artistic and popular success that figure skater Brian Boitano has achieved since winning the gold medal for the United States at the 1988 Winter Olympics Games in Calgary, Canada. Brian’s skating is characterized by power, precision, consistency and emotion. He created and routinely performs his signature jump, the Tano Triple, so difficult it has rarely been completed by anyone else. In competitions and exhibitions, Brian continues to raise the level of skating to new heights. He was the first American male athlete to have his own network television special, Canvas of Ice, which aired worldwide and was seen nationally on the ABC Network. The critically acclaimed special won awards in the International Film and Television Festival of New York and the Chicago International Film Festival. Brian was an Olympic alternate in 1980 and a member of the ’84, ’88 and ’94 U.S. Olympic teams. After turning professional in 1988, Brian won six world professional titles, placing first and scoring perfect 10s in each of 10 consecutive professional championships. As a professional, he won the first 20 out of the 24 competitions he entered, a record unmatched in the history of skating. He has taken a leadership role among professional skaters and his efforts have changed the face of professional skating, raising its standard beyond any level seen in the sport’s history. Brian won a prime-time Emmy Award, television’s highest honor, for his starring role in the HBO movie Carmen on Ice. He and fellow Olympic gold medalist Katarina Witt toured North America in three successful ice shows: Skating, Skating II and Skating ’92, which were broadcast on network TV. In 1994, he starred in Nutcracker on Ice with Oksana Baiul and Viktor Petrenko. For 15 years he toured with Champions On Ice around the country, headlining 25 national tours. Brian has provided expert commentary on televised skating shows for ABC, NBC and Turner networks. Brian’s book, Boitano’s Edge: Inside the Real World of Figure Skating (Simon & Schuster, November 1997), is currently in its third printing and is considered one of the finest skating books ever published. In 1995, Brian founded White Canvas Productions to create figure skating shows for both live and television audiences. More than 20 White Canvas specials have aired on NBC, USA Networks and TNT. Brian’s production of the Brian Boitano Skating Spectacular aired on NBC in January 2010.  Brian began his figure skating career in 1972 at the age of 8. After viewing a performance of “Ice Follies,” he traded his roller skates for ice skates and was enrolled in group lessons taught by Linda Leaver. She immediately realized his potential and suggested private lessons. Thus began a remarkable partnership that has lasted 30 years and continues to flourish with Linda also serving as Brian’s personal manager. At 14, while still in high school, he became the U.S. Junior Men’s Champion. Brian gained world recognition when he was 19 as the first skater to complete all six different triple jumps in a World Championship. He placed fifth in the 1984 Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo and won the first of four consecutive U.S. Men’s titles in 1985. In total, Brian, a three-time Olympian, has won more than 50 titles, including 23 international gold medals, two World titles, two Pro/AM titles, 16 professional titles, four U.S. National titles, as well as the Olympic Gold Medal. Brian has been inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the National Italian-American Hall of Fame. He is one of the founding members of the National Safe Kids Campaign Entertainment Alliance and is also a member of the Public Awareness Council of the American Cancer Society. In 1998, Brian founded Youth Skate, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to introduce San Francisco’s inner-city youth to the sport of ice skating. Since its inaugural year, more than 6,000 children aged 5 to 15 have participated. Now in its twelfth season, the charity continues to grow with Brian as an active participant. With a lifelong passion for food and cooking, Brian premiered a Food Network cooking series, What Would Brian Boitano Make?, in August 2009. In the series, Brian takes viewers on a reality cooking adventure as he creates amazing food for a new event in each episode focusing on innovative but accessible dishes.