Monday, July 09, 2007

Meeting a Top Chef

As most frequent readers (all three of you) of this blog know, I work in television. It isn't super glamorous but I do see my share of celebrities or TV personalities. I mean, I don't have tea with Brad Pitt or anything, but I do have the opportunity to glance at a decent amount of people who would be considered somewhat famous. Honestly, it doesn't really affect me either way- I don't dislike it but I don't live for it either. The funny thing is, when it comes down to you and a famous person standing face-to-face, you're just two people who have nothing to say to each other anyway, right? It's just as awkward as staring at a stranger, which is basically what the famous person is to you anyway. A stranger you've seen on TV, I guess, but it doesn't make the meeting any easier.

Farro, corn and bacon salad

I have to admit, however, that there are a few people I'd freak out over meeting, and most come from the culinary world. If I ever ran into Tom Colicchio, I'd probably just be a blubbering mess. I'm also a pretty big Bobby Flay fan (I know, you all hate him, he's cocky as hell, he uses honey in everything.....but I still like him) as well as an Anthony Bourdain groupie. TV chefs are not only in my living room on a regular basis (on the television) but make regular appearances in the cookbooks I buy and the magazines I subscribe to. They permeate a good portion of my life, since I spend so much time thinking about, talking about, blogging about and dreaming about food and cooking. What can I say, I guess I'm a food 'ho. 'Nuff said.

Shaved zucchini w/ parmesan

So imagine my delight (polite way to say FREAK OUT) when my friend invited me to a bbq where all the food would be cooked by Lee Ann Wong of Top Chef fame. You know- the Wong Way on She was one of my favorite contestants on season one of the show and I'm still furious that she didn't make the top three (especially since that backstabbing Tiffany did!). I was told not to bring any food since she liked to make everything herself, so we went armed with a few bottles of wine in hand and a few butterflies in my tummy.


We showed up early and the table was already filled with tons of great looking food. There was Lee Ann (TINY in person, may I add) manning the grill which was emitting some amazing smells. We were introduced, then she went back to grilling everything from shishito peppers to enormous rib eye steaks. I poured myself a glass of bubbly and hung back, acting as casual as I could.

Grilled shishito peppers

Since no one seemed to want to be the first to dig into the food, I finally just stepped up and took a plate, at which time Lee Ann told everyone to start eating already! We didn't have to be told twice- I piled on the farro, corn and bacon salad, pickled veggies, watermelon and feta salad, grilled pork chops with peaches, the INSANE rib eye, J's favorite shishitos, some bulgogi-like steak and shaved zucchini and parmesan salad. There was also a great big bowl of some cheese popcorn which she had doctored with some sweet glaze- what a combo. Everything was delicious- particularly all of the meat. That girl knows how to grill em, I gotta say. For dessert she whipped up (by hand, of course) a huge bowl of vanilla bean whipped cream which we ate along with some fresh berries. Yum.

Watermelon and feta salad

I was still pretty nervous to really talk to Lee Ann, so I did what any self-respecting person in my situation would do. I loaded up on liquid confidence, of course! Luckily my friend T was there as my partner in crime, so we just sipped one glass of wine after another until I worked up the nerve to shoot little friendly (or annoying?) comments to Lee Ann here and there. She'd smile politely, but I'm sure she probably thought I was some buzzy fool. Oh well. I think I even did that lame-ass thing where I said she should have made the top three over Tiffany.....which I'm sure Lee Ann is losing sleep over considering it was TWO years ago and she'd certainly moved past anything Tiffany ever did! Ugh.......sometimes the combination of nerves and wine is a killer eh? I'm sure she probably wished it would have killed my mouth.

Fresh radishes with lime zest

Anyway, it was a good time and thankfully I only spent about 3% of my time trying to find something meaningful to say to Lee Ann. I can only hope she didn't think of me as a complete moron. Next time, I think I'll stop trying to react to her as a "food personality" and converse with her like the normal person she is.

Lee Ann and yours truly

Of course, unless she gets a restraining order against me or something!


eatdrinknbmerry said...

It's one thing to spend wednesday watching Top Chef, but to actually TRY a Top Chef contestant's food is really awesome. She looks like a very nice person and would be down for double dinner and silly hours of drinking. Great post.

Food Marathon said...

I too work in the film industry and I definitely would rather meet Bourdain than Bruce Willis or Robert Deniro.

Marvin said...

How lucky you are. I've always wondered how it would be to taste the food made by some TV chef. It's good to know Lee Anne's was up to snuff.

Anonymous said...

you should see a doctor about that yellow block on your face.

BoLA said...

Ooooo..... I loved Lee Ann on Top Chef!!! The food looks delicious! :D YUM!

Being in the teaching profession, I get tons of donuts, cookies, brownies, cake, and other sweets. EEK! Hahah!

Tokyoastrogirl said...

EDNBM: She was super nice...hope I didn't scare her!

FM: Totally agree on Bourdain. I saw him at his restaurant about 4 years ago but was too nervous to talk with him.

Marvin: My big dream is to be able to taste everything on an episode of Iron Chef.

Anonymous: You're right- I should see a photoshop doc and learn a better trick than that! I guess you could say it's my ode to post-its.

Bola: You're lucky you get so many foodie gifts!

Jeni said...

I love Lee Ann Wong. She's so freakin cool!

ChefShondi said...

Hi, I must say I am a little jealous...OKAY A LOT JEALOUS...I am a professional cook (or at least I used to be until the business kicked my ass and sent me running elsewhere) and I would give ANYTHING to meet Tom or Anthony or even (I must say w/ my head down in shame) Bobby. Most people don't understand my fascination w/ all things food and now that I have cable (tears of joy) I CAN WATCH TOP CHEF AT HOME, not just at a friend's house. I had heard of it but it wasn't until I went to visit a friend (a fellow cook and now barista) that I actually saw it. I was floored and missed three buses because I didn't want to leave(they were running a marathon...season 2 I think w/ Marcelle...eewwww) I am in complete awe of that show. A lot of the people match personalities that I have had the misfortune or even gratitude to have worked with so I really get into it. I think what i like most is that there professionals for the most part and are in the business one way or another. LUCKY LUCKY YOU!!!