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Can you cook a nutritious, delicious dinner for $11.59?

Now, can you make that using only, say, a coffee maker?

David Brody ’08 can—and has. Now, just a year after graduating from Sarah Lawrence, he is bringing such feats to the Food Network, where he’s producing a show called $11.59.

Often, the transition from college to work brings major change. For Brody—other than gaining more time to experiment with different cooking approaches—not so much.

“I created the show in my dorm room last year,” he says. “The point is that you can cook pretty much anywhere, with anything. People on the show cook conventional things in an unconventional way on a tight budget.

“Take an iron. You can make a panini with that.”

Brody’s original concept was to show students at different colleges cooking with whatever was on hand. He pitched this idea to a Food Network staffer whom he met at a party.

Although pilots were made and did well in focus groups, the network decided to aim for an older audience. “It still works pretty well since it’s a recession and everyone’s broke,” Brody notes.

The show is set in the apartments of people ages 21 to 28 in the New York area. A judge challenges them to, for instance, “impress me with an interesting way of making a sushi roll. You don’t have a sushi mat, you don’t have the normal appliances.”

In another episode, says Brody, “we have them cook salmon and a side dish, but we don’t let them use the stove. Contestants can try to fry the fish with the hot plate of a coffee maker, or they can use a hand-held blow torch to sear it.”

Brody has worked in a few restaurants, he says, but has basically relied on his own experience cooking in the Dudley Lawrence mini-kitchen to create the show. Other than working for the Obama campaign, it has been his job since graduation.

Jonathan Tarlin and Eric Morgan, both 2008 graduates as well, joined Brody as writers for $11.59 in August. The show is slated to run on the Food Network’s Web site in the spring.

by Lisa W. Romano

in kitchen

Jonathan Tarlin, Eric Morgan, and David Brody (right) eschew normal kitchen tools as well as pricy groceries in their Food Network show.

Photo by Alanna Martinez ’ 10

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Watch the show—retitled The $12 Challenge after we went to press—on the Food Network.