Posts Tagged ‘A Recipe for Disaster’

Hello and a happy Tuesday to you all!  Today on The Quiet Knitter I am delighted to share something different with you, the book featuring today is A Recipe For Disaster by Stephen Phelps which is a cookbook, a travelogue and the companion to Cookucina, a six-part TV series available on Amazon Video, iTunes and Google Play – see www.cookucina.com 

And I have a guest post to share with you today written by Stephen on the most troubling aspect of the project.  There’s also a giveaway with an amazing prize (details below).   A wee video taster below:

Recipe for Disaster Cover


A Recipe for Disaster is a cookbook, a travelogue and the companion to Cookucina, a six-part TV series available on Amazon Video, iTunes and Google Play – see www.cookucina.com .

It’s also the entertaining journey of an Englishman struggling with the ups and downs of living in rural Italy. After giving up a successful career in television, Stephen found himself dragged back into a world he had happily given up when his neighbour, Lia, persuaded him to listen to her Big Idea – making a TV cookery series. But Lia speaks no English.

And Stephen’s partner, Tam, can’t cook. So, much against Stephen’s better judgement, the three of them embarked on a six-part series set among the rolling hills of the little-known, but spectacularly beautiful, Italian region of Le Marche. In the Cookucina TV series Lia teaches Tam to cook alla Marchigiana, while Tam translates. A Recipe for Disaster follows their many encounters with the real Italy – a world away from the picture-book ideal of summer holidays in Tuscany.

As the team try to construct a professional series with no funding they come to rely on the generosity of the Marchigiana people, while attempting to overcome the constant difficulties thrown up by those whose stubborn adherence to their age-old way of life is rooted in their beloved fields and woods. A Recipe for Disaster is a goldmine of simple yet delicious recipes, while peeling back the veneer of television professionalism and opening the door to a world of Italian surprise and delight.

A Recipe for Disaster comes with unique access to Cookucina, the final six-part TV series, so you can see for yourself how the team cracked their problems and (just about) held it all together in a blistering heatwave. Experience this contradictory world of vendettas and kind hearts through the laughter and frustrations of Stephen and the team, as you follow A Recipe for Disaster slowly coming to its surprising fruition.

You can buy a copy of A Recipe for Disaster via the following links:

iBooks                  http://bit.ly/iRecDis

Kindle                   http://bit.ly/KdleRecipe

Paperback           http://bit.ly/RecDis

Goodreads         http://bit.ly/GoodRec

Smashwords      http://bit.ly/SmaRec

Guest Post:

What has been the most troubling aspect of the project? 

When I started on the long and tortuous road that would eventually lead to the online TV cookery series COOKUCINA, and my book A RECIPE FOR DISASTER that tells the story of that journey and life in the Italian countryside where the series is set, I had no idea whether any of it would actually come to fruition. I had spent many years working in broadcast television for the BBC and Channel 4, so I knew how to make TV, no trouble. But in our desire to make this series in the way we wanted without some broadcaster trying to shape it into one of their tried and tested (and boring) formulas, I had completely underestimated the issue of how anyone would get to watch it once it had burst into life. The years I had spent in mainstream TV had rather spoilt me when it came to finding an audience for my work. Make a programme for the BBC or ITV and you are guaranteed several million viewers. But once we had completed Cookucina, and had a genuinely professional product, there was no immediate outlet, and no-one to view it.

In truth we did see this problem coming, so we had done a deal with a Distributor. His job was to flog the series to broadcast TV stations around the world. Trouble was, by the time we’d finished it, his mind was elsewhere. Our “Distributor” had bigger fish to fry. The writing was on the wall from the moment we turned up at his office to proudly reveal the finished series that he’d promised to promote at MIPCOM in Cannes, the world’s biggest TV market. Firstly, all his viewing rooms were busy. Nowhere to play the show on a giant screen with Dolby surround sound. But he did have another idea. Here’s how I tell the story in A Recipe For Disaster.

He suggested we all go round the corner to a local cafe where we’d be able to watch on the laptop. We were a bit crestfallen by the idea that this man, who was going to get behind our series and promote it in the biggest and most competitive TV market in Europe, would be seeing our work on a laptop with tinny little speakers instead of on a big screen with professional audio. But at least this cafe (in the heart of TV land, in Soho, by the way) must be somewhere well-suited to this sort of thing. It wasn’t. We finally got to display our wares in a crowded workmen’s cafe, sharing a table with someone eating an egg and chip lunch, while a TV blared MTV in the background. Even I wasn’t much impressed with how the program looked in these less-than-ideal circumstances. This was a bad start to a relationship that would get slowly and inexorably worse over the next two years.

Those two years were almost entirely unproductive, and thereafter it took us a while to recover the rights to distribute our own series. But we did, and for a while it looked  like we might have landed the BIG ONE, when PBS, the American Public Television network showed an interest. Fame and fortune round the corner, we thought. But it turned out that PBS (unlike Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC) have very little money. What they do have they spend on their major history and science series. Cookery shows like ours were another story altogether. WE would have to pay THEM to get the series on air. After that we could try to get a sponsor for the series, but the cost of getting that far was simply prohibitive.

In the end we decided to hold our breath and embrace the new world of digital, online TV, and now thankfully you can buy the series through Amazon, Google Play and iTunes

Oh, and by the way, the Distributor was not entirely unsuccessful. He did manage to sell the series to Croatian TV. So Lia and Tam, the stars of the show, are now household names in the kitchens of Zagreb!

And I for one am glad these guys went with the digital route for their series, and would heartily recommend you check them out!

Giveaway time

For your chance to win the bundle below please follow this link (this is a rafflecopter giveaway & is open internationally) – good luck everyone!

Prize bundle includes:
Biscotti artigianale
Local honey
3 x DVD of the Cookucina series

Plus a signed copy of A Recipe For Disaster

Recipe For Disaster - Prize Photo


About the Author:

Recipe for Disaster - SP best pic

Educated at Oxford University, I began working with BBC Radio, moving to BBC TV where I launched Watchdog and produced the investigative legal series Rough Justice. In Hong Kong for BBC World Service Television I oversaw the start of BBC World. I then spent twelve years running my own TV production company, Just Television, specialising in investigative programmes in the field of law, justice and policing. In particular, Trial and Error for Channel 4 which exposed and investigated major miscarriages of justice, winning the Royal Television Society’s inaugural Specialist Journalism Award in 1999. Recently I have been working as a consultant for Aljazeera English on major documentary projects.

In 2002 I took an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Writing credits include many plays for BBC Radio, my most recent being a drama documentary for the 30th anniversary of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster. Books: The Tizard Mission published by Westholme Publishing in the United States, tells the extraordinary story of how Britain’s top scientists travelled in secret to America in the autumn of 1940 to give away all their wartime secrets to secure US support in WWII. A Recipe for Disaster is a book about living in Italy while trying to make a TV cookery series, Cookucina (now available on Amazon Video, Google Play and iTunes.

I have several other books and three screenplays in development.

Social Media Links –

Twitter @StephenP_Writer

Faceboook  https://www.facebook.com/stanley.tinker

Instagram stephenp_writer

Medium  https://medium.com/@stephenphelps

Web  www.cookucina.com


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