Scrum-diddly-umptious

'Kid in a Candy Store' host, Adam Gertler, is in awe of the Great Balls of Fire candy apple before diving in for a bite.

Food Network films at DeBrito’s Chocolate Factory
Eating candy might not seem like work, but Adam Gertler has made it into a career. He hosts the Food Network show

Kid in a Candy Store,

which airs Monday nights at 8:30 p.m. and he just happened to be in Hollister to film a segment of his show last week.
During the two-day shoot, he made sampling the gourmet candy apples at DeBrito’s Chocolate Factory, on Briggs Road, look fun on camera despite the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. DeBrito’s segment is tentatively scheduled to air in May 9.
Food Network films at DeBrito’s Chocolate Factory
Eating candy might not seem like work, but Adam Gertler has made it into a career. He hosts the Food Network show “Kid in a Candy Store,” which airs Monday nights at 8:30 p.m. and he just happened to be in Hollister to film a segment of his show last week.
During the two-day shoot, he made sampling the gourmet candy apples at DeBrito’s Chocolate Factory, on Briggs Road, look fun on camera despite the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. DeBrito’s segment is tentatively scheduled to air in May 9.
Alene DeBrito, the owner of DeBrito’s Chocolate Factory, had seen Gertler’s show before and she said when she first got the message from someone who wanted to feature her shop on the show, she thought it was a prank call. But luckily, Sean O’Malley, the executive producer of the show, made another call to her to clarify that they were the real deal.
“The producer Sean said he found us on the Internet and we started the phone calls back and forth,” DeBrito said. “When they were asking questions I didn’t realize they were writing the script at that time.”
From the first call to the camera crew arriving in Hollister, it was about three weeks by DeBrito’s estimate.
“We had to rush and paint and do a lot of things so it looked nice,” she said.
Gertler and the crew arrived March 16 morning, with shooting going from noon to 8:30 p.m. They filmed on March 17 from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and it was off to the next location after that. The crew stayed nearby in the Best Western San Benito Inn.
“I didn’t realize how long hours they put in,” DeBrito said. “They picked something close. They were going to go to Paine’s for dinner (one night.) They got as far as Taco Bell and then just had Taco Bell and went back to the room and crashed.”
O’Malley said they usually arrive on site a few hours before they start filming to scout out the location. DeBrito’s office was turned into a sound room and the production room was filled with lighting and other camera equipment. O’Malley brought six crew members with him, including two cameramen, a sound guy, a make-up artist, a production assistant and a grip.
For the show, Gertler visits candy stores, bakeries and sweet factories all over the United States. Each show features at least three locations, so the job keeps him on the road during the September through April filming period.
“I’m usually on the road for seven to 10 days, then home for one or two,” he said, adding that his next stop after Hollister would be in Ann Arbor, Mich.
It is rare that they film back-to-back in nearby locations, he said, due to working out the schedule with the different shops and factories.
Before Gertler shows up on the set, he is given a little background information on the location but he said he prefers not to know too much so his reactions are more natural onscreen.
He sampled a few different apples on screen, including a monster called “Great Balls of Fire,” which had dried mangoes and chili peanuts over caramel and then is covered with chocolate.
“The question is how many of these am I going to get to try?” Gertler said, while the cameras rolled, and DeBrito offered to slice up one of the apples for him. “You know, Alene, the thing is they come on a stick for a reason. I think I’m just going to go for it like a caramel apple is meant to be eaten.”
DeBrito explained that the caramel is made from scratch and it is a family recipe.
“My grandmother taught my mother how to make candy and then my mother taught me,” she said. “We had to go in the kitchen and make candy when I was a youngster since we couldn’t afford to buy it at the store.”
She said as a girl, she would overcook the caramel on purpose to make it hard for her brothers to get it off the apples. Now she makes sure the caramel is cooked properly, and it received rave reviews from Gertler even off camera.
“It’s among my favorites, I have to say,” Gertler said. “I honestly have a sweet spot for caramel, even more than chocolate. She makes it fresh. It’s chewy. It’s made with real butter…I’ve only tried a couple, but it makes my job easier when I actually love the thing.”
He admits to having a sweet tooth, but said he likes savory things as well. Gertler first appeared on Food Network when he competed on “The Next Food Network Star,” a competition of cooks, chefs and others who want their own show on the channel. He came in second, but still landed a show called “Will Work For Food,” where he tried out various food-industry jobs before taking on “Kid in a Candy Store.”
“I have knowledge of food chemistry and basics,” he said, which helps when he tries to explain to viewers the ins and outs of how candy is made.
His favorite part of the show is what he calls the “walk and talk,” where he talks directly to the camera.
“It’s a translation from the food world to viewers,” he said.
As part of the filming at DeBrito’s, he shows viewers how the caramel apples are made, starting with the freshly made caramel. He and DeBrito made a jolt apple, which is covered in caramel and then has espresso toffee added on the outside.
“What he really liked was the espresso in the coffee toffee,” DeBrito said, of Gertler. “I am sure that is what keeps his energy up. It has two-and-a-half pounds of espresso in that toffee. It has quite a punch.”
Gertler mentioned that he tends to have a lot of energy as a host, and what helps the show run smoothly is a guest that has high energy.
“You want someone gregarious, an extrovert, upbeat,” Gertler said. “When you have someone like Alene the back and forth (banter) works better.”
DeBrito said her staff makes 840 apples a day. Jim Gibson, who owns Baler Market, Hollister Super and Windmill Market, or his staff pick up the apples for her in San Francisco five days a week so that she always has a fresh supply.
The candy apples as well as other treats such as toffee, chocolate-covered caramels, and even chocolate-covered potato chips are sold on site, at the Briggs Road store. In fact, locals were invited in to be interviewed for the segment. Guests had to sign a release form, but DeBrito said that every person who showed up was interviewed on camera. She is most excited to see what parts of the shoot make it into the final show when it airs in May.
The apples are also sold at trade shows, such as the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, which she attended this week and online at www.debritochocolate.com. The apples are also available for fundraisers for schools, churches and other nonprofits, which DeBrito said makes up a bulk of what they sell.
“The producer showed me on his phone that he had gotten a text message from the CEO of Jelly Belly that said they had to shut the website down because it got so overloaded,” DeBrito said. “I’ve got my web host alerted. We have four to six weeks to kind of prepare.”

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