HANOVER — Joyce Wilson had a confession when it came time to tape the town’s new cable television show, “Hanover Cooks and Talks.”
The local Council on Aging’s outreach coordinator, who was invited to attend the taping and chat during the meal’s preparation, confided she isn’t much of a cook as she took a stool at the island where Hanover Town Manager Troy Clarkson and his special guest chef, Selectman Gary Young, were chopping ingredients for braised beef short ribs.
“Maybe I’ll pick up a few tips,’’ Wilson said, laughing nervously.
Right with her was fellow resident Joe Grecco, on the other stool, who confessed he’s a “grill” man only, with an emphasis on steaks.
“Well,” Clarkson asked, after a pause. “Do you like to eat?”
As it turned out, there was no need for the two to fret because Clarkson and Young, both naturals on the air, laughed and joked like old friends as they whipped up a savory main course. They chatted about local issues and initiatives — and, of course, themselves — and drew their guests in, as if they were around a family table.
In the end, they shared the meal together.
Clarkson, of Falmouth, came to town last spring and launched the show late last year to make good on a directive by Hanover selectmen to improve communication in the town in 2013. Each episode features an interesting official or resident talking with Clarkson while preparing a favorite dish. There is no audience, except the two guests on stools and viewers of the TV show.
Comfortable in the spotlight, Clarkson, who formerly worked as town manager in Bridgewater, also features in another local cable program called “Ask the Town Manager.” About a half-dozen episodes of that show have aired, he said.
“Hanover Cooks and Talks,” though, holds a special appeal for him.
“Well, I love to cook, and I love to talk, so my intention is to get to know people in the town, and introduce them to different recipes,” he said.
The show’s first episode, which aired in December, focused on Clarkson’s Italian grandfather’s spaghetti sauce. He regaled viewers with stories from childhood Christmas Eves when Guido Augustino Baroncelli, his mother’s father, would mix up his specialty, accompanied by “gawdawful” Swedish fish dishes his grandmother made.
“One of my fondest memories is when Guido cooked, he would sing,’’ Clarkson said in the episode as he sliced and stirred at the studio stove. “I find myself sometimes whistling and singing in the office, entertaining my department heads.”
On the recent taping day, though, the first order of business was just trying to get the huge stainless steel gas stove in the Hanover Senior Center kitchen ready for business. The cooks crouched before the dials, spinning them this way and that, in the elusive search for fire.
The burners clicked furiously, but nothing happened.
“We’ll have no eyebrows at the end of the show,’’ Young said, simulating an explosion. “Voom.’’
Senior Center director Robyn Mitton finally swooped in to save the day and, to Clarkson and Young’s great delight, easily got the burner to light.
Young, who lives on Broadway with his wife and young daughter, said he has dreamed of being a lawyer since age 3 and this summer will take the bar exam. But his other passion, he said, is the Food Network and chef Ina Garten, known as the Barefoot Contessa, whose recipe he hijacked.
Stabbing a large cube of butter, Young flipped it into the saute pan to melt before adding in chopped celery, carrots, and onions, a trio of aromatics known in cooking circles as “mirapoix,” which adds a flavor base to sauce.
“For those of you who are health-conscious . . . well, don’t look,’’ he ordered, following the other vegetables with chopped leeks.
Clarkson, as his straight man, was ready, smiling broadly at the TV audience: “Where I come from, a leak is something that comes from a pipe.”
Next into the pot: dry red wine, in this case, a 2009 Brazin Zinfandel Lodi.
“I want you to know we are not getting loaded in here,’’ Young said, drawing laughter from Wilson and Grecco as he lifted the open bottle. “It’s all going in.”
The tragedy, he admitted, is that the recipe calls for a full bottle of wine.
“I like the ones that call for half for the dish and half for the chef,” he said.
Mitton said the seniors who use the spacious, sunny facility on Center Street enjoy watching Clarkson’s show, and being asked to be a part of it.
“It’s a wonderful connection, and we love the opportunity to share our kitchen,’’ she said.
Clarkson agreed, noting that as the town’s population continues to age officials must continue to offer opportunities and outreach. “And this is one way we are doing that,’’ he said about his show. Continued...