Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Anyone who knows me knows I owe my newly acquired cooking skills to celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis from Food Network...and that I am a HUGE FAN! And anyone who knows Rich, my husband, knows he's been the biggest fan of celebrity chef Bobby Flay from well before Bobby was as famous as he is today. (Seriously, Food Network was the only channel that would come in on Rich's t.v. when he was a student...and to this day we still don't know how he got the channel without having cable!)Well now to the real "meat" of this story...no pun intended, but I am talking about the "Food Network"...so I just had to go there! :-) Rich and I bought tickets for the NYC Food & Wine Festival which took place this past weekend at locations all throughout Manhattan. Without a doubt, we got tickets to see Cooking Demonstrations by Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay. Just as a little side note, the night before we went, I told my family that I had this dream that I was going to go to Giada's demo and she was going to call up volunteers on stage and that I would jump up and scream "Pick, me!" And that she would pick me and then I would cook with her and she would quiz me about how much I actually knew about her and cooking. I truly did have this dream. Then I told my family, "But, I know it probably won't happen because it's a dream, and that I'd most likely leave disappointed and probably disliking Giada in some way because I didn't get to meet her."Now, back to the story...so our day starts very early Saturday morning because there's a Welcome Center for the Food & Wine Festival where apparently the celebrity chefs would be going to meet and greet and to sign copies of their books. And since I have all four of Giada's cookbooks...I am proud to say...I knew I wanted at least one signed by her. So we get to the tent and stand in a line that's not too long at all. We think that we might have a shot at seeing Giada & Bobby. But, as soon as we get in, Giada & Bobby are not there. Needless to say, we left and decided to head over early to Giada's demo.And I'm glad that we did that because we were pretty much the first ones in line! Next thing you know, Giada pulls up in a Food Network car and hops out with her brother-in-law, his wife, and I think her hair person from the show. I was so stunned that all I could do was have Rich snap pictures and wave. She waved back and went inside the building. Then it hit me...that was Giada. Why didn't I run up to her and ask her to sign my book? Why didn't I ask to take a picture with her? I was so mad at myself. Well, next thing I know I see her husband Todd Thompson. This was it! This was my chance to make up for the chance I missed with Giada. I run up to him and say "Hi, Todd." He turns around and says hello. Then I say to him, "I know everyone loves Giada, but I want you to know that I love you too and I love Anthropologie. (Todd is a designer for Anthropologie- one of my all time favorite stores). So he agrees to take a picture with me. I was psyched!At 11:45am, we are finally led into the auditorium (with about 500 other people). We get seats in the fourth row...not so bad I thought, that was until I saw people who were behind us in line push their way to sit in the front row. Now I was determined to see if I could get someone to give my cookbook to Giada to have her sign it for me. How about my "friend" Todd? I spotted him, ran over to him and asked him if he wouldn't mind doing it. He so politely said yes and disappeared to the back immediately to do it. Next thing I know, he emerges with the book and passes it back to me in the audience. I was glowing!Finally, Giada comes out on stage and the audience goes wild! She says that she wants her demo to be interactive and that she would love volunteers. Could this be for real? It was like my dream. So what did I do? I jumped out of my seat and screamed "Giada please, it's my birthday!" She says "Well how can I say no to that? OK, come up here." Next thing I know, I am pushing my way through my row and onto the stage. Giada then gave me the biggest hug. She is so tiny, I thought I'd crush her...but, she is just too cute!Her crew then put an apron and a mic on me, and then Giada told me I'd be helping her cook lamb chops. She showed me how to season then, and then asked me if I knew how to do it. I seasoned them and then asked "Is the grill pan hot?" The audience cracked up and Giada said "Maybe I should have a seat and you could do this on your own." She told me how to make the mascarpone dipping sauce which has honey in it. I asked her how much honey to put in and she said "2 tablespoons, just eyeball it." Well apparently my eyeballs are bigger than hers because she came over to taste my sauce and said "Wow, that's sweet." I said "You told me to eyeball it." The audience cracked up again. She then showed me how to cut the lamb and plate it...presentation is key...something I've learned from my idol Giada. She went on to make a risotto dish with dried cranberries and apples and an amaretto sour drink with prosecco. (Both of which I have made at home before!)We had a blast up on stage together. I made fun of myself, she made fun of me, and you could tell that everyone around us was getting a kick out of the whole thing. She truly is as warm and genuine as what you see of her on t.v. (not usually the case with all celebrities) She told me that she loves coming to New York for cooking demos because New Yorkers are the best. She surpassed my expectations...as did Todd for helping me to get my book signed. I am still on a high from that day and will probably be for awhile. I just can't believe that my dream actually came true! Now I have to dream that Giada asks me to be on an episode of her show, or asks me to go out to L.A. to work on her show! Hey, you never know, right? :-)Now on to the Paula & Bobby part of this post. After Giada hands me the plate of lamb chops to take back to my seat and share with Rich and some of the audience, Paula Deen walks out onto the stage and surprises Giada. Paula is a hoot..she is so funny...another one of my favorites from Food Network! It was such a treat to see her in person too. I actually did meet her once when I worked on t.v. She did a cooking demonstration for our show and made fun of me when I tried to help her.So that was our Saturday...or should I say my Saturday! Sunday was really Rich's day because we went to see Bobby Flay.

I knew there wouldn't be a repeat performance of Saturday in terms of me going up on stage, but I at least wanted to have Bobby autograph our Grill It cookbook. Well, as we were standing in line waiting to get in, Rich saw Bobby. I ran over to him and asked him to sign his cookbook for us. He did, but he definitely was not as warm as Giada or Todd were the day before. Oh well, I still got his autograph. As for his cooking demo, he did not have any volunteers from the audience, but instead cooked with Melissa D'Arabian...the Next Food Network Star. He made a roasted chicken, brussel sprouts with goat cheese, and a German chocolate cake. He is very funny...definitely loves himself, but still is totally awesome and a great chef! All in all, it was the greatest weekend ever! We'll definitely be going to another Food & Wine Festival in the future...maybe another New York one, or they also hold them In Aspen, Colorado and Miami, Florida as well.

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