Production gigs are not like normal jobs where you might get an hour or so for a lunch break where you can have a Sex in the City style gabfest with your closest friends and then stop by the bank or maybe do a little shopping before heading back to the office. In the production world, lunch is either catered or ordered in and on set you get a 30 minute break and in the office you get no break at all–most people work straight through lunch, taking bites at their desks between sending e-mails. Although our little art department tries to be a little more civilized–we always gather around our ping pong table for a short, communal meal.
Some shows employ a different kind of system: the walk-away lunch. The walk-away lunch is a cruel and inhumane system and is usually seen on shows that shoot on big studio lots. A walk-away means that instead of a 30 minute break for a catered meal, you are given an hour break to go feed yourself. Here is why the practice is so repulsive:
1. A longer break may sound better than half an hour, but when your days are 12-18 hours long, you’d rather have that extra 30 minutes of sleep at the end of the day.
2. An hour is usually not long enough to go anywhere off the lot because it can take 20 minutes just to get to your car which is probably parked at the deck that’s on the complete opposite end of the lot from your show’s stage. This means you are stuck eating at the commissary (which vary in quality from studio to studio) or the other lame restaurants found on the lot.
3. You have to pay for it yourself!!! The horror, the horror!
Now you may be saying–but Liz, surely you could just pack your own delicious lunch. But no, that’s not really an option, because after you’ve worked 18 hours it’s hard enough to force yourself to take a shower, let alone create a satisfying meal for the next day.
Like I said, my show doesn’t use the dreaded walk-away, so I don’t have to fret. But on Friday, when almost everyone in the art department had to attend a production meeting at location, George and I were left to our own devices for lunch and we decided we’d go out!
Not only were we treating ourselves to a trip away from the office but we decided to go all out and splurge with lunch at Culver City’s newest fine dining place: Akasha.
Akasha’s shtick is serving all organic, upscale California cuisine with a lot of vegan/vegetarian options. The restaurant is truly green from the biodegradable dishwashing soap to the organic hemp uniforms on the wait staff. I ordered the Punjabi Mung Beans and Rice (hold the raita) and was glad I did as it was the best lunch I’ve had all season.
The dish came with a bean and rice mixture in a korma-like curry, tomato chutney (which tasted like Indian-style ketchup), local greens, and a crunchy tandoori flatbread topped with caramelized onions. I had never had mung beans before–they never sounded too appetizing–but they were great and I plan on cooking with them sometime in the near future. George also really enjoyed his meal. That is the beauty of this place–usually at fine dining restaurants, vegans are forced to create some bland salad while their friends order feasts. But at Akasha, vegans and omnivores alike can share an outstanding meal.
So today I learned that walk-aways aren’t always so bad. I have a feeling George and I will be trying to take one again at least once before our season wraps.
9543 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232