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IT'S COMPLICATED

Food Design
Food plays a major role in the film and some form of it appears in most of the major sequences. Throughout the production, culinary consultant SUSAN SPUNGEN was behind the scenes in a special studio kitchen turning out dish after dish. The founding editorial director for entertaining and food at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Spungen launched the company's first all-food title, "Everyday Food,” and most recently served as consultant on Meryl Streep's last blockbuster, Julie & Julia. Instead of the classic, old-style French haute cuisine she had to make on that film, she produced simpler but equally appealing fare for It's Complicated.

"This was California-style, close-to-the-earth cooking,” says Spungen. "You could say it was a cross between my style and Jane's. It was a nice change for me to be working with food that was much more contemporary. I made a lot of suggestions to Nancy, and she gave me a loose framework of what she was looking for. Sometimes it was as general as ultra-colorful salads. Those were some of my original suggestions, so it was clear from the start that we were both on the same track.”

An award-winning cookbook author, Spungen has spent nearly her entire adult life in kitchens and is fazed by little. "My first day on the set was for the dinner-party scene with Meryl and her three friends. That required a lot of food, so we hit the ground running. I felt confident after that. We'd hit the right note, so from then on I used that as my benchmark.”

For one scene being shot over a three-day stretch, she had to turn out 57 photogenic, perfectly roasted chickens. "The ovens were horribly greasy after that,” she laughs. "I helped coach Meryl on that scene, where she had to very emphatically and symbolically chop the leg off a chicken. I had it all rigged so that the leg would come off easily—a breakaway chicken, if you will.”

For the bakery scenes, Spungen was in charge of procuring all the baked goods on display, acquired from various artisan bakeries across the city. "I was back there in the kitchen area making a lot of French toast. I might have been a bit overqualified for that part of the job,” she laughs.

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