Everyone loves a delicious, mouth-watering, meticulously prepared meal. Though it seems cliched to say, some dishes are truly “to die for”, and the new food-centric comedy/horror web series LAST MEAL emphatically illustrates that turn of phrase throughout its first season of 6 episodes.
Premiering soon (day, date and platform to be announced), LAST MEAL will also be accompanied by special content which teaches viewers how to prepare the same meals and cocktails (w/recipes) featured in each episode, plus the hysterical “Rants Of A Neurotic Zombie” starring series co-writer/co-director Jordan Firstman (who shared those behind-the-camera duties with Courtney Eck).
Filmed on location in a real life mansion just outside the Portland, Oregon area, LAST MEAL stars real life spouses/restaurateurs Aaron and Jessica Grimmer as a malevolent pair of foodies: he, the offspring of the Grim Reaper, she, his alluring wife. Together, they serve up tasty treats and bubbling libations with a finishing entree of death for their celebrity guests.
Among those “victims” are indie rocker Brent Knoff (Menomena, EL VY, Ramona Falls), actor/comedian Sabrina Jalees (Amazon Prime’s TRANSPARENT, in addition to appearances on Comedy Central’s THE NIGHTLY SHOW WITH LARRY WILMORE and ADAM DEVINE’S HOUSE PARTY), author/cartoonist Nicole J. Georges (who penned the award-winning memoir CALLING DR. LAURA), singer/songwriters Logan Lynn and Hutch Harris, and acclaimed animal photographer Carli Davidson.
This deliciously disturbing take on celebrity talkfests and personality-driven cooking shows came together during a fateful brainstorming session between the Grimmers.
“Jessica had this idea of producing a series based around food and drink,” says Aaron Grimmer. “She had read about these salon dinner parties that Julia Child would have in the south of France with James Beard and Salvador Dali and she wanted to create something that had that same feeling of great conversation, in a great atmosphere with great food and drink.”
It wasn’t long before the show’s co-stars would find the one masterfully macabre ingredient that gave LAST MEAL its own little “kick”. “We were calling the show HAPPY HOUR,” remembers Jessica Grimmer. “One day, we were having a meeting about the show. Aaron got bored and started imagining how funny it would be if everyone in the meeting died in the style (of) campy B movies. It was way more entertaining than whatever was going on in the meeting. Afterward, we thought that would be great to go in the show.”
While both Aaron and Jessica Grimmer successfully hit upon LAST MEAL’s unique concept, Aaron gives much of the credit for the show’s development to his better half. “Jessica is one of those rare and amazing people that can take a crazy idea and somehow make it into a real thing. She’s freaking incredible,” he explains.
Having succeeded in the competitive world of upscale dining, the Grimmers’ collaboration became even closer during production of LAST MEAL. “Honestly, we’re restaurant owners, but we’re entrepreneurs first,” Aaron adds. “We probably had a thousand ideas that we thought about pursuing. This one just felt right. It felt fun and creative, and it allowed Jessica and I to be partners in a way that we haven’t been before.”
“Courtney and Jordan were so great. We had this crazy idea, but they helped give it life and novelty and humor,” the Grimmers recall via email. “Jordan is way too clever and funny for his own damn good, and Courtney had a great eye for tying things together, finding the heart in an interview without making things sad. Together, they allowed us to combine some really sincere and thoughtful conversations with campy and weird humor.”
As for the food and drink featured in LAST MEAL, the Grimmers decided to use their own fine dining establishments – Portland-based High Noon, Barlow Artisanal Bar, The Picnic House and chicken sandwich-centered CHKCHK – as testing grounds for their wacky culinary creations.
“Our restaurants were great incubators for all of the food and drink recipes for the show. Our customers were wonderfully willing guinea pigs,” they say. “We’ve got some really talented staff that were willing to try to make anything we asked…no matter how crazy.”
During its week-long shoot, Firstman and Eck helped the Grimmers accommodate all of the show’s celebrity participants. “…They (Firstman and Eck) didn’t want to give too much away about the show, so they basically asked the guests if they’d spend a half day filming a cooking show where they would be interviewed,” Aaron Grimmer responds. “I think they may have mentioned something about a horror aspect, but they kept the details really vague, and they came anyway!”
Prior to cameras rolling, though, the show’s creative talent did their best to put their guests’ minds at ease – even if they didn’t exactly know what they were getting themselves into. “We would sit down with the guests, and fill them in a bit more and to their credit they were all game to jump in with both feet,” the Grimmers add. “They really were great sports.”
As viewers will see, LAST MEAL truly lives up to its title by wickedly illustrating the “deaths” of its famous guests at the conclusion of every episode. Aaron Grimmer cites the “demise” of singer Brent Knoff in LAST MEAL’s fourth entry as one key example of that twist.
“Jessica has this amazing outfit complete with feathers. There are plenty of birds in the cuisine (especially the pie with a pigeon foot holding a quail egg),” he says. “Tom, our bartender, brings out a cocktail called “The Aviation” (get it?), and the production company decorated the place with bird decor. All of these things lead to what may be the most wonderfully corny death scene since Pee Wee Herman died in BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.”
Nonetheless, the famous faces that became part of LAST MEAL made strong contributions to the success of its production. “These guests were so kind and generous with their time, and they’re each incredibly talented in their own right,” Aaron Grimmer remarks. “Frankly, we were mostly nervous about the interviews, and how they would go. As the days went on, we really began to find out groove with each episode. Jessica especially came alive on camera. It was a real collaboration.”
Hijinks aside, LAST MEAL’s most memorable moments come thanks to the unique insights and perspectives of its guests. “Underneath the wrappings of food, drink, and death, there are real conversations with really authentic, talented and interesting people,” the Grimmers reply. “We get to have a very real THIS IS YOUR LIFE type moment with them, where they get to stop and take a look at their lives and careers, their accomplishments and regrets, (and) the things that they wish they would have done differently, or hope to still do.”
Of course, the bread and butter (no pun intended) of any cooking show is its demonstrations on how to prepare certain dishes at home. LAST MEAL features 12 supplementary videos – 6 on food, 6 on cocktails – which will help the show’s fans serve up all of the culinary specialties presented in each episode. Written recipes will also accompany the visual portions of that content.
“We filmed the ‘how to’ segments for cooking and cocktails with the hopes that viewers could learn to make these creations on their own,” explain the Grimmers. “What we really loved about how we did this series is the time and attention that were put into the details of this show. The details turn something weird and a little absurd into something intriguing and wonderful.”
True, the get-togethers on LAST MEAL aren’t your typical dinner gatherings. Yet, if you’re craving great conversation, extraordinary cuisine and fizzling beverages presented by a diabolical dining duo, LAST MEAL may be the show that hits the spot. While every day presents countless chances to chew on something new, the Grimmers hope that fans of their series will seize every opportunity to take a bite out of life.
“Don’t wait until your actual last day to have your last meal. Because chances are if you do, you’ll be old and it’ll be something that doesn’t require teeth, or it’ll be sudden and you just finished eating Taco Bell. The message? Stop. Take a moment. Enjoy the life you have. Because this meal could be your last. So savor the hell out of it.”
NOTE: Regarding closed-captioning/subtitling of LAST MEAL, the Grimmers say: “As of now, no (it’s not closed-captioned), although we hope to have closed-captioning available after we have a platform.”
ON THE WEB: http://lastmealseries.com/