By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
Just a few days before his wedding – for which he was preparing all the food – Tupelo chef and food stylist David Leathers got an interesting phone call.
From Los Angeles.
The woman on the other end of the line said she was producing a show for The Learning Channel about food sculptors, and she wanted Leathers to send her an audition tape.
“First, I never get calls from L.A. Usually my wife gets the calls from L.A.,” Leathers said of his wife, Juliet, an actress. “I sent as much info to them as possible and the next week, we put the honeymoon on hold and I got the rest of what they needed.”
A couple of weeks later, Leathers got another call from Los Angeles.
He had the part.
“Extreme Food Sculptors” will air Monday on TLC at 9 p.m. and again at midnight. The hour-long show will feature three sculptors: One will be working with sugar, one with bread, and Leathers will be executing his signature fruit and vegetable carving.
“The producer said they went with me because I’m a little different than the other fruit and vegetable carvers,” he said. “A lot of others have an Asian influence. They say my style is more American.”
The camera crew came to Tupelo the week of the Junior Auxiliary’s annual Charity Ball in February. Leathers had offered to do a life-size sculpture of a woman for a table centerpiece at the ball, and TLC decided they wanted to film him creating it.
“We did some pre-meetings on Tuesday and they filmed me all day Wednesday and Thursday and then Friday at the Charity Ball,” he said. “Everything had to be taped. If I crossed the room to pick up a knife, they were right behind me with the camera. And we gave them TV drama. We didn’t mean to, but some things just happened.”
Leathers, 31, said the camera crew shot a lot of footage in and around Tupelo, maybe to use as background filler during the show. They also interviewed his wife, talked to his 2-year-old son, Presley, and made a trip to Fulton to meet his parents, Rick and Joni, who operate a barbecue restaurant.
“This was a great opportunity for me, for the Charity Ball and for the city,” he said. “I wasn’t paid to do this. I did it for people to see my art, for the exposure. I’m excited because I think the piece is going to be very powerful. I can’t want to see it.”
What: ‘Extreme Food Sculptors’
When: Monday, Aug. 16 9 p.m. and again at midnight.
Where: The Learning Channel (TLC)
Who: Tupelo chief and food stylist David Leathers is one of three food sculptors to be highlighted in the show.