Frito Pie 101

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If your wallet has been feeling a bit thin lately, Allie Schwartz and Daniel Schloss may be able to help. The twentysomethings produce the web cooking show, Economy Bites, out of Allie’s Sunset Park apartment. The concept is simple: Cook one large meal on Sunday and eat it every night through Thursday (or brown bag it and save yourself the $7 sandwich from the Korean deli by your office).

We made chili with them in Kitchen Studio with them on a recent sunny Sunday, just after they had hosted Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz–he demonstrated egg creams and a pizza roll. At the end, Allie showed us how to make authentic Frito Pie like they do in Texas, her home state. You eat it out of a snack-sized bag of Fritos. Really.

How and why did you start doing economy bites?

Allie: Before we started the show, I had a blog where I’d write about cooking, eating out and Top Chef. I was getting a lot of positive feedback from the blog, so I knew there was an audience that liked my voice. The problem was that I’m a lazy writer. The idea to kind of move it to video came to me, actually, while I was cooking.

Describe the kitchen studio for us, how long did it take to set up and does it feel weird to cook in a set when you’re not on camera?

Daniel: Kitchen Studio consists of three small lights I’d used for film projects in the past, unsafely hung on a pole duct-taped to the walls and cabinets. I also put a large gel over the window, and use a wide angle lens–since the kitchen is actually very small. It took an hour or two of duct-taping and scotch taping, and definitely was worth it.

Allie: A lot of the cooking I do now is recipe testing for the show, so even if no camera is there, I do have it in mind that one day I’ll be explaining what I’m doing to an audience, so I kind of mumble under my breath about cook times and measurements. When I’m really in the zone, though, that all goes away–like this weekend I cooked a big meal for my boyfriend’s parents, and all I was thinking was, “I hope this tastes good!”

Regale us with tales of other guest stars and memorable episodes.

Daniel: We went all out for our Halloween episode Allie had no clue why I kept telling her to hit the light bulb above her head and make strange noises, but she obliged and it’s very memorable. And the filming with Allie’s grandmother in Texas was full of shenanigans. Basically the more stuff that goes wrong, the better.

Allie: Yeah, Grandma Hilde is the one that stands out to me. I started cooking in that kitchen when I was younger. I spent a lot of time with her learning to make all her signature dishes–the things she makes for Hanukkah, birthdays, Passover, etc., so to bring the show back to where, for me, it all began, was really fun.

Are you kids making this Internet thing pay or are you trying to figure it out like the rest of us?

Daniel: We’re trying to figure out how to make money on the Internet, as I think everyone else is. Right now our number one goal is to keep expanding our audience, but we won’t make significant ad revenue unless we have millions of views. Ideally we’ll find sponsorship or move to a bigger venue one day.

What’s next?

Allie: We’ve got a collaboration coming up with The Brooklyn Kitchen and with my favorite restaurant in Dallas, Blue Mesa. Other than that–you’ll have to keep watching to find out!

Sent by Annaliese. Photos and video courtesy of Economy Bites.

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