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Food Network, Bermuda style

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Stephenie Blyden, creator of the food television series Best Seller - Bermuda (Photograph supplied)

Stephenie Blyden’s dream was to create a show in Bermuda that rivalled the ones she saw on Food Network.

Having worked in TV production with Tyray Lathan she knew he was “an awesome host” who was also enthusiastic about food.

“That's when I had the idea, I figured we could work together with his passion for food and my passion to create a professional Food Network type show to bring the vision to life,” she said. “That's when I told him about the production idea, to make it a professional [show], and he agreed. Then we did it.”

Best Seller: Bermuda, the 20-minute series that they came up with, is “all about promoting local restaurants”.

Chefs are filmed preparing a signature dish, which Mr Lathan tries and discusses in front of the camera; repeat customers are interviewed about their favourite items on the menu.

The pair have one episode completed and are now looking for sponsors and additional restaurants.

“There’s no negative reviews; nothing like that. It's all positive,” Ms Blyden said.

Every aspect of filming is discussed with the restaurant in advance. The dish that will be featured is also agreed on, so the chefs can prepare themselves for cooking in front of a camera.

“That’s to make sure that the restaurant gets the promotion that they want and they deserve. At the same time we go there and we promote [additional] dishes that they have, that they think that the public would like.

“Towards the end you'll see the host actually eat the food and some of the atmosphere in the restaurant itself.

“It’s a lot of action, music, regular patrons telling you what they love, things of that sort. Then we have commercial break time. It's actually set up like a real television show.”

The show is a product of Bermedia VaultTV, a production company Ms Blyden started about five years ago that is especially known for one of its shows, Vault Trivia.

Stephenie Blyden is inviting restaurateurs to register for her food television series Best Seller: Bermuda (Photograph supplied)

“Learning how to do production came from a love,” she said. “My mom couldn’t afford to send me to school so I had to just learn. I had to intern with people and ask them questions, I had to go online and look [things] up. I had to just do what I had to do.”

It took her “a couple of years” before she saw any real improvement. A year’s internship with Bermuda’s Channel 82 helped.

“That's when I took off with my wings and I could do things on my own shortly after. It was a big part of my career, it really helped me out.”

She then quit her job and launched VaultTV, encouraged by people who saw her talent, heard her ideas and pushed her to do it.

“Of course it’s a fear factor when it comes to things like that,” Ms Blyden said. “But I decided I was just gonna make the leap and do it because I had to; because I really felt it in my spirit to do it.

“So I just did what I had to do and I've been building it up for a couple of years now. We've gotten pretty far.

“We do a lot of work with companies and we do our trivia [segments]. I always had the dream of creating professional TV shows and have quite a few brewing but one in particular was a Food Network type show.”

She is the “director, creative writer and producer” of Best Seller, Mr Lathan is “the awesome host with a passion for food who also helps wherever else is needed when he can – behind the scenes and in front of the screen”.

“In Bermuda, we have so many creative people here but nobody really takes the time out to do these types of things.

“And I just wanted to do it. We just want to promote Bermuda in a positive way. We want to give Bermuda local content that's professional.”

Interested restaurateurs are invited to register with VaultTV. Doing so will give access to the first episode, which features Village Pantry, Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio and FryDay’s.

“I wish to thank these restaurants for believing in our vision and being so patient as we prepare to complete the rest of the season,” Ms Blyden said.

Once released, Best Seller will be available on bermediavault.com, YouTube and various social media platforms.

She is also in discussions with Channel 82 and ZFB and the Bermuda Tourism Authority who “absolutely loved the pilot” and is hoping to promote it to viewers overseas.

“We wanted to make sure it looked professionally done because we wanted it to reach outside of Bermuda. We wanted people who saw it to wonder, ‘Who did that? Did Food Network actually fly down?’

“But you know, it’s up to us at the end. We haven't really done the full season yet. We want to get all the restaurants involved.

“There are a couple of things in motion. We just have to do the show. There are a lot of people willing to push it and that want to be a part of it.”

Depending on the buy-in from sponsors, restaurants will not have to pay for the promotion.

Each episode will give between three and four eateries five minutes of screen time; Ms Blyden expects roughly 11 episodes per season.

“We’re just going to keep going until I guess we get them all or get as much as we can.

“We set it up on the website where [restaurants] could go and put their information in and then they could watch the pilot.

“So, I just want to encourage them to really watch it and just reach out to us if they're interested. And we'll go from there. It’s a great thing for Bermuda.”

Restaurateurs interested in having their restaurant promoted on Best Seller: Bermuda should visit www.bermediavault.com and click on the Best Seller Sign Up tab

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Published July 06, 2022 at 7:50 am (Updated July 07, 2022 at 8:11 am)

Food Network, Bermuda style

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