How 'Walking Dead' Showrunner Scott M. Gimple Does Breakfast
Sorghum pancakes, mostly
Scott M. Gimple is an LA denizen, TV and comics writer, and producer. You probably know Scott best for his current job as the showrunner of The Walking Dead, which is one of the most widely watched TV series in history. Scott joined the show as a writer and producer in 2011, and has taken calls from viewers who are dying for clues on what will happen next via AMC’s The Talking Dead. His creative work also includes stints as a writer for NBC’s Life and FOX’s Drive, as well as FlashForward on ABC. He also co-wrote the script for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, created the cartoon Fillmore!, helped create the comic book Heroes Anonymous, and was a writer for Simpsons Comics and Disney’s Pepper Ann. When he’s at home in LA, Scott regularly appears at the sketch-comedy quiz show The Friday Forty alongside his wife, Julia Wackenheim, who is a comedian-actress-writer.
Scott talked to me about eating with zombies, his ability to make “egg sandwiches of note” while staying in a hotel, smuggling bagels on a plane, and his long-standing quest for sorghum pancakes.
Extra Crispy: Describe a regular morning in the life of Scott M. Gimple.
Scott M Gimple: Well, there’s not too many regular mornings. Sometimes I’m in Georgia (where we make the big program), sometimes I’m in California. Sometimes I have very early meetings by phone with production, sometimes they’re later. When I’m at home, I do try to start the morning with family, taking walks to the coffee shop on the very early side. If family is with me in Georgia, we spend some time together before the day starts. If I’m solo in GA, it’s usually a rush out the door in the morning, as I tend to work much later with The Walking Dead editors, as they’re on LA time.
What does your breakfast consist of?
My breakfast game is kind of a moving target that can get stuck in ways that sometimes appears intransigent. I can get into long runs of the same breakfast. I once ate two Wasa multigrain crispbreads with almond butter for breakfast for a year and a half straight… And then I noticed I was doing that. It’s a fine crispbread, but that’s a whole lotta crispbread.
Nowadays, it’s sometimes Mother’s oat bran, sometimes eggs (I finally learned how to cook scrambled eggs properly, which is to go slow), sometimes Morningstar Farms fake bacon or sausage because a goat named Ruby last season has stopped me eating meat anymore. When I was in New York for the New York Comic Con last October, I brought back three dozen bagels with me on the flight. A writer at EW by the name of Dalton Ross said I’d never get them on the plane. Still have a few in my freezer, but that was a glorious bagel victory I revisit every so often for breakfast.
I do have a lot of breakfast meetings for the show. It’s generally a lot of places in the Valley. Vivian’s Millenium Cafe, Hugo’s, Nat’s Early Bite, C&M Cafe… I will say that we went on a bit of a run referring to sorghum on the show. Right after the first reference, Hugo’s started having a lot of sorghum items on the menu. They had sorghum pancakes for a couple months, and I got a bit obsessed with them. Knowing they were leaving the menu, I ordered a couple dozen and put them in the freezer. They’re regularly in the breakfast rotation.
What did you eat for breakfast today?
Eggs and a sorghum pancake.
What can viewers expect for the upcoming season of The Walking Dead?
There is, at one point, a reference to cobbler. And you may have seen a ferocious tiger in our Comic-Con trailer.
Many of the characters on The Walking Dead have to do unexpected things, including eating dog food from old and possibly expired cans. How does food as well as the loss of normalcy and routine play into the show?
The old world is gone in our story, and with it the relative ease of keeping yourself fed. I say relative ease because nearly 8 percent of US kids live in food insecurity, right now, not in the apocalypse—do check out Feeding America. Food means a great deal to everyone living in the apocalypse—in some ways, it’s a proof of civilization on the show. But also, I think food on the show represents family—that is, seeing these disparate characters sit down and share (an often precious meal) is a way to show how they have become an ersatz family.
What would a walker/zombie breakfast party look like? What would be served? Where would it be?Without going into it too deeply, I think it would go downhill very, very fast.
What does breakfast look like on the set? Is it tough to eat around all that fake blood and guts?
Breakfast is often very, very early. Our caterers are pretty remarkable, so the offerings are usually quite terrific. And they entertain my requests, which is quite handy, as I often have some fairly idiosyncratic breakfasts like egg and veggie burger sandwiches and such. I will say Greg Nicotero (one of the Exec Producers, the Maestro of Makeup Special Effects, and a busy, busy director on the show) has a solid breakfast game that I often ape. He requests well composed breakfast tacos a lot.
You can often see walkers in line for food, or bloodied cast members… It’s astounding the first time you see it, and then, as the years go by, you forget it’s strange to see someone eating pancakes with half their face gone.
What is the oddest breakfast you ever had on set or at work?
I think the cooking I did in my hotel room in Georgia got fairly ambitious. I had a travel toaster for a while, and using a microwave, I was making some hotel room egg sandwiches of note. Hot sauce, veggie bacon, lettuce, tomato… Not that impressive in real life, but if it’s made atop a chest of drawers? Maybe that’s something of interest.
Other than that, I miss at least one breakfast a week, so lunch often winds up being breakfast, and veggie dogs on tortillas for breakfast is a drop weird, I think.
If you could breakfast with anyone, in the world, who would it be? Where would you sit, and what would you eat?
I fear these questions much more than walkers. Very, very, very hard one. I’m going to say pancakes with George Lucas at Vivian’s, on the back patio. I have a lot of questions.