Q&A With ‘Young & Hungry’ Writer Ali Schouten
I’ve been primarily watching two TV shows lately: Bachelor in Paradise (for work, I’m 100 percent serious) and ABC Family’s hilarious comedy Young & Hungry — and I caught up on Netflix just in time for its Summer premiere and the news that the show has been renewed for a third season! Based on the blog BrokeAss Gourmet by Gabi Moskowitz, the series follows the adventures of personal chef Gabi Diamond (played by Emily Osment) in a perfect blend of foodie love, love triangles, and laugh-out-loud hilarity ensuing. Tonight’s episode “Young & Back To Normal” is written by Ryan Shankel and Ali Schouten, who is story editor on the series and a very talented comedy writer who was one of my grad school classmates at USC.
In addition to being an awesome TV writer, Ali had a blog called Wine + Feelings, which garnered a following for her funny and charming take on wine, food and wine pairings, and — of course — feelings (this entry about wine and donuts is a must-read). She also cooked up deliciousness as the Hollywood Farmers Market Examiner, hosts fabulous parties, is a fan of Bachelor Nation, and has a super witty Twitter you should definitely be following if you like funny folks.
Ali was nice enough to take the time to answer some questions about what it’s like working on a foodie TV show, food, wine, food & wine, and Bachelor in Paradise.
How much does food come up in the Young & Hungry writers’ room — in terms of story or just in general?
Because Young & Hungry is based on a blog, BrokeAss Gourmet, food is a huge part of the show. We have a food stylist and every week at the production meeting if a dish isn’t specified, our creator/showrunner David Holden is asked to clear or pick a meal. If the cast enjoys a prop meal a lot, we’ll repeat that one for them. For specified dishes, it’s either a joke, on story or something we’d like to eat. Scandinavian Princess Cake is David’s favorite, so that shows up in “Young & Pregnant.” After “Young & Carless,” we all got to take home lemon meringue pies left over from Gabi’s unsuccessful bake sale. Gabi’s car (which is a lemon) is the last thing her mom gave her before she passed away, and her mom always said when life gives you lemons, make lemon…pie. And in the season 2B opener, Gabi is working for the guy across the hall from Josh, and Josh is jealous. We just had to do a raw bar tower — we couldn’t resist the two guys talking about “Gabi’s oyster.”
What has been your favorite food-related joke or scene on the show? What is the favorite joke that you’ve written on the show?
I mean, I love shellfish and vagina jokes, so that one is hard to beat. Oh, but in the season 2A opener, when Gabi has just walked in on Josh with a girl who looks just like her the day after he called off his wedding to Caroline, that is gold. Gabi’s crazy confused about her feelings, and babbling as usual, and Emily Osment just nails that scene. She has this long speech while she’s making breakfast and at the end she goes “What. Is. Happening?” and punctuates it by absent-mindedly tossing the egg shells into the scramble she’s making. I could watch that scene a thousand times.
As far as jokes I wrote, it’s always exciting to see something I wrote on screen, but I would say the one I’m proudest of is a recurring joke for Sofia. I wrote her “I love to live alone” song based on my real personality!
What’s your go-to food or snack while writing?
At work, I’ll sneak over to stage and see what they have. It’s so much more exotic than whatever we have in the room! Also I can justify eight cheesecake bites with “well I walked over here…” At home, I don’t have air conditioning, so I keep fun size Milky Ways in the freezer for sustenance.
What is your favorite wine and food pairing? What’s your current favorite wine?
Buttered popcorn and red wine! The salt and fat of the popcorn are perfect for bringing out the aromatics, while the popcorn itself also cuts through it so it’s not overwhelming to lighter reds. In general, I like light, dirty reds, like Old World Pinot Noirs. But really I like anything weird, which is why I think my favorite is still Vina Gravonia’s 2004 white. It’s the strangest! I wrote about that wine and also pairings (and popcorn) on the blog I used to have, wineandfeelings.blogspot.com. Mallory, your blog is way better. (Ed. note: Thank you for the compliment, Ali!)
What is your favorite dish to make?
Mussels in white wine and garlic! Give everyone a big bowl and an entire loaf of bread for dipping and a pretty salad that no one will bother with, and that is a meal! I also gave up jarred tomato sauce a couple years ago and vowed to learn to make my own. It took me one try. Guys, make your own tomato sauce. It’s so, so easy, and so, so much healthier. See, I’m doing the healthy version of eating too much pasta…
Where are your favorite places to eat in Los Angeles?
I love Noshi for sushi, Valerie in Echo Park for pre-yoga brunch, and Gjelina for a special occasion. I also think HipCooks is great! Rex Lee, super generous talent that he is, got all the writers gift certificates there after season 1. I loved my class so much I started washing dishes for them so I could audit the other classes.
I must ask, because I know you’re a fan and I’ve been watching it lately, too: What do you think of Bachelor in Paradise this season?
It’s not quite as amazing as last season, mainly because Jade and Tanner don’t hold a candle to Marcus and Lacey. But hey, both seasons featured a Hand Job of Deceit, and that makes it the best show on television.
Photos courtesy of Ali Scouten