‘First Taste TV’ to be co-hosted by Merrimack resident

MERRIMACK – If there was ever a personality made for TV, it’s probably Amanda Venezia.

As the director of dining services for the Londonderry school district, Venezia has parlayed her drive and enthusiasm into a new show, called “First Taste TV.”

“With summers off, under normal circumstances, I don’t work for the district in July,” she said. “This was my idea, so I’m co-owner and co-creator of the company. And we’re coming out with a brand new web series that’s going to air starting next week.”

The show is about innovation, new products and connecting people from the vendor side with people that are unable to go to conferences and shows.

“We’re so segmented in this COVID world,” Venezia said. “We shot a bunch of film at a studio in Chicago a couple of weeks ago with an incredible production company.”

Venezia’s company, First Taste TV, is positioned to provide the “first taste of the next generation of marketing.”

“We hired Esrock Partners, and they’re our marketing team,” she said. “They help with all the things that we didn’t know how to do. What we do know is how to talk about food, and we know how to talk about products and innovations and cafeterias.”

Season one will focus on food in the K-12 market as school lunch programs across the country prepare to feed more children, now more than ever.

“It’s not just about K-12,” Venezia said. “It’s about collegiates, hospitals and other places where these nutritional products can be used or solutions need to be had – especially within the world we are entering.”

Venezia wanted to connect, inspire and inform people as life continues to create new standard operating procedures.

“We’re all trying to see what’s new and exciting,” she said. “And we’re all being very conscious. And we’re working from home. A bunch of our national showcases were canceled. The National Restaurant Association canceled, the school and college equivalent canceled as well.”

Seeing an opportunity within the field, Venezia devised a way to connect with people in a way that is fun and informative.

“We want to get these products across to people who want to buy them,” she said.

The first season is in the can; there are 13 episodes that begin airing on July 27. The shows will air at 7 p.m. Eastern time, 4:00 p.m. Pacific. The programs will air across YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

“We’re going to push out some really cool stuff,” Venezia said. “Our production team is the same production team that films ‘Dateline NBC.’ It was a huge project and we got it done and we’re excited to share it with everyone.”

The wheels are already in motion for season two. Venezia said they’ve been approached by a couple of parties who have expressed interest, while thers have already committed.

“We haven’t even put out season one yet,” she said. “So that’s pretty cool.”

As someone involved in the Londonderry school district, Venezia said that were many “take-aways” from doing “First Taste TV.”

“I think we all have something to learn from each other,” she said. “Without continually investing in education, and staying informed about our industry, as it changes, we need to do that to be successful.”

Venezia added that no matter how long you’ve been in the business, “you always need to be in touch with what’s new, with what solutions out there, so you can make the best choices for your customers, for your business and for the kids.”

Although she’s never done television before, Venezia has done a fair amount of public speaking and feels very natural before the camera.

“Greg, our audio guy, said it took him three days to figure out that I wasn’t an actress,” she said with a hearty laugh. “I said, ‘Greg, that’s so nice of you!'”

Chalking it up to hiring the right people and doing keynote speaking across the country, Venezia is quite comfortable in her new role as co-creator and co-host of the show (the other co-creator and co-host is Marlon Gordon).

“It’s just like public speaking but in front of a camera,” she remarked. “It’s really easy when you know the product and you know the industry. I’ve been really confident, having been in food service for 15 years. It’s what I do every day.”