CJ Jackson, Chief Executive at Billingsgate Seafood School gives us the scoop on Sunday Brunch. (For this programme CJ will be filming at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.)
What is Sunday Brunch all about?
Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch is a live broadcast, lifestyle programme that airs every Sunday morning.
How did you get involved?
I’ve known presenter and chef Simon Rimmer for many years and he invited me onto the show. Simon has also been down to the Seafood School and seen a class in action.
I started back in 2016 on the fishmonger section promoting the best of seafood and I am on every 8 – 10 weeks.
How much planning goes into it?
Planning my Sunday Brunch segment happens a few weeks before the day. I have a 9 minute live slot to present the seafood and dishes and to get the tasting verdict from the panel.
What happens when you get there?
I love live T.V! There is no opportunity to re-take, giving me a huge adrenaline rush to get everything across in that time. This is a challenge that I relish.
My focus is to introduce all types of sustainable seafood (both fish and shellfish) and present them as cooked dishes, which the guests of the day are invited to judge, so I am up against it to make sure everything we serve is fabulous!
The week before a visit we agree what the final list will be. I aim for four species of seafood and four dishes. I provide the raw fish, a cooked dish and small individual dishes for the guests to try.
Do you have any help?
I always take a team member from the Seafood School to help me on the morning. Clare Phillips has worked with me for many years and is a great help on the day, best of all she has a tremendous sense of humour which is essential on the day.
What happens on a usual filming day?
I arrive at the studio for 7.30am to unload, there is always a very warm welcome as I know many of the team who create the show.
First call is make up, I spend some time doing this which IS my least favourite part of the day (for those who know me well know I never use make up) so this is always a challenge but the make-up team are always delightful and welcoming and manage to make me look reasonable!
Next step is the ‘cut away’ I move into the studio so that the camera team can take a short clip of me holding my best catch of the day and this is the introductory shot.
Then all hands to the pump in the prep kitchen and we get the dishes completed, Clare is brilliant at organizing this and at 10.30 on the dot we have to have all the dishes ready to wheel round to the studio.
There is always so much to say and although it is scripted I improvise. I want the guests to understand the fish, enjoy the tasting and convey how fabulous it is.
Do you know who will be on the show in advance?
I never know who the guests are until I get there. I have met some fabulous guests who are open to the idea of new dishes. Some great people I’ve met included Angela Scanlon, Emma Bunton, Rick Stein and Dermot O’Leary. They are often on the show and I get the chance to catch up with them.
What is your best part of doing the show?
The best part of the day is the adrenaline rush after 9 minutes of live TV and enthusiastic positive comments about my dishes.
And your least favourite?
Nothing, as the team are so positive and friendly. I really enjoy presenting for the industry.