Food + Wine, Fun, Style

…where dreams are made of…

OK.  So where we left off I was waking up in New York City, full as a tick from our dinner at Daniel, having just ended the first incredible day of my anniversary vacation with my husband.  Our actual anniversary was on this day and we had a lot of stuff planned.  First on the agenda was to sit in on a taping of The Chew.  A close friend of my brother-in-law got us VIP tickets and we thought it would be a fun way to spend a couple hours.  Both my husband and I are big foodies, spent many hours of our dating years watching Food Network, and are huge fans of Top Chef so getting the chance to watch Mario Batali or Michael Symon or Carla Hall do their thing up close was very exciting.  And I’m actually a big fan of the show itself- got my DVR set to record every episode!!

Since both of us woke up anti-hungry, but in desperate need of strong coffee, we got dressed in our ‘bright colored business-casual yet trendy’ taping clothes (they’re very specific on what you’re to wear to these things) and headed out to the area of town near ABC headquarters to find a coffee shop.

(My Chew outfit…(well, underneath the leather jacket.)  Blouse-Vera Wang/’leather’ pleated skirt-Forever 21/nude pumps (not shown)-Target/jewel drop earrings-H&M.)

We found a coffee place and ordered ourselves 2 large blue eyes.  (If you’re a big coffee person and/or have ever worked in a coffee shop, you know what that is…it’s a secret menu option and let’s just say it’s a hell of a lot of caffeine packed into one cup.)  And since we weren’t really in the mood for a big breakfast, we just ordered a croissant and bagel with cream cheese to share from a street cart.  So we sat down at one of the outdoor tables in a nearby park and drank our uber strong coffees and ate our delicious carbs wrapped in crinkly, brown paper.  It was chilly, wonderfully chilly outside, and we sat and people-watched and ate and talked and sipped until we had to go to the studio.  But mostly we just sat in wonderful silence.

It wasn’t until just now that I actually remembered this moment.  So many big things happened to us on this trip, things I haven’t even gotten to yet, lots of important business things for me, lots of fun, lots of love, lots of extravagant events took place, but this was a very sweet moment we had.  It was nothing fancy- we just sat and drank coffee and ate pastry on the street, but it was wonderful.  It proved why we’ve been together for as long as we have- we love fancy things, we love treating ourselves, but we are just as happy sitting on the side of a noisy, dirty road…as long as we’re together.
(The super good carbs and strong coffee didn’t hurt either.)

We headed to the studio a little early and they escorted us right inside (thank you VIP status!) so we didn’t have to stand in the cold on the street. When we walked in to the studio, one of the PA’s directed my husband and me to sit in the front row, with me on the aisle right in front of the stage opening.  Our VIP status didn’t get us those seats, mind you.  Those seats may just have been because our ‘bright colored business-casual yet trendy’ clothes were perhaps more bright than others?  It’s just a theory.  It was an extremely small set, like the size of a black box theatre.  Shockingly small.  And once we sat down, I looked out over the stage and saw one of my old Food Network favs prepping for her segment- Mrs. Ina Garten.   The Barefoot Contessa, herself was in the house!  I’ve been watching her for years so it felt very fitting to have her there the day I was sitting in.

(There’s tiny Ina as viewed from my seat…and by tiny, I mean tiny.  She’s a very tiny woman..)
(I’m usually not a photo-stalker kinda person, honest!  It grosses me out actually, but I had to do it here- Just wanted to show how close we were to the stage.  That’s Clinton Kelly with his back to me running through his ‘craft corner’ segment.)
So…before the show starts, the whole cast walks on stage as they’re being introduced over the loud speaker and Carla comes right up to me…and we just start talking.  Liiiiike we’ve known each other for ages.  It just happened.  We introduce ourselves, we shake hands and hug, I tell her she’s beautiful, and we small-talk for a bit before she goes back to the stage.
Well.  That was pretty cool.  Huh.
Then minutes later, Michael walks up to me.  He extends his hand, I take it.  (Gosh, he’s cute.)  I tell him I love his work, we joke about how I’m surely the first and only person to ever tell him that, and we small talk for a bit before he goes back to the stage.
Well.  That was pretty cool.  Huh.
The taping process begins.  There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors that go into a TV taping as far as the audience goes.  You have to record separate laugh and clap tracks to be used in the editing process.  So we, as an audience, laughed hysterically…then clapped aggressively…at nothing for 5 minutes.  My cheeks hurt.  My hands hurt.  It was intense.  And strange.
The actual show taping begins and we listen quietly to the cast talk about food and such, we laugh at the appropriate times, clap when necessary (or forced to do so), we watch them nibble on Mario’s Potato Doughnuts and sip Clinton’s Hazelnut Hot Cocoa.  Then before the commercial break, the camera follows Mario as he gets up to deliver the plate of remaining doughnuts to the Tasting Table, and when he gets to the last person at the table, he steps out of his way to come up directly to me and hand deliver one to my mouth.  Mario Freakin’ Batali hand-delivered me a doughnut- one of HIS Freakin’ recipes.  We looked each other in the eye, I smiled, he smiled, he winked…it was a moment.
Well.  That was pretty cool.  Huh.
Commercial fade-out begins and ‘Boogie Shoes’ comes on the loud speaker as Carla comes up the steps to me…dancing.  So…I did what any normal person does when someone comes at you with their boogie shoes on- I put mine on.  I stood up and we had oh, I dunno, about a 3 1/2 minute dance-off to Boogie Shoes.  It was epic.  With my platform pumps I was almost 2 feet shorter than she is, but we made it work.  We were at a wedding in our heads.  The studio was ours for those 3 1/2 minutes.  People clapped, they cheered, we had our own little show goin’ on.  The song ended, she gave me a hug and a kiss and went back down to the stage.  And I sat back down.
Well.  That was pretty cool.  Huh.
Before the next segment Mario, from across the stage, looks over at me and gestures with a thumbs-up, referring to whether or not I liked his doughnut.
Um, yes, Mario Batali.  Yes, I did like your doughnut.  It was the best damn doughnut I’ve ever laid lips on.  It tasted like a soft, yeasty potato roll smothered in cinnamon sugar.  It tasted like happiness, Mario Batali.  It tasted like love.  Hell, it tasted like sex.
So yes, Mario Batali, I liked your doughnut.
We watched Ina make her Roasted Pork Shoulder and Winter Slaw (I got to taste that as well and it was delicious), then watched Clinton teach the rest of the cast how to make pop-up Christmas cards during his craft corner. (Oh yeah, I failed to mention, it was the Christmas episode they were taping. Ho Ho Ho.).  And since I was right beside Clinton, and also in direct eye contact with Mario across the table, I somehow became part of all the crafty fun they were having… No, seriously.  It was a little nutty.  So, so cool and super duper nutty.  Clinton and I made jokes to one another off camera, Mario and I made eye contact several times on camera, he kept ‘checking in on me’ as my husband put it…we traded gestures and expressions, I mean… it was crazy.
We then watched Mario make a flatbread before the taping ended where we all clapped and smiled too much, then began the exit process.  But before we got up to leave, Daphne Oz (if you aren’t familiar with the show, she’s Doctor Oz’s daughter) came up to me and told me how awesome my dance was with Carla…we joked a bit about that and then I asked her about her baby, then we talked about my kids, about family, and small talked for a bit before she headed backstage.
Well.  That was pretty cool.  Huh.
(My sweet husband wanted to get something documented from this experience for me, so here’s what he got!)

That was one hell of an hour, lemme tell ya.  It was In-Sane.  It was all kinda dream-like actually…flowing like it was scripted.  It was a big ego bump for sure.  It’s interesting what something like that can do to you.  You go out of town, leaving certain things behind- maybe there’s trouble at work, trouble with family or friends…you’re in a tiny bubble and can feel like those issues are catastrophic and world-ending, maybe you feel like those things are beginning to define you.  But once you get away from all of it, place yourself in a new and different environment and see that other people, people outside of that bubble- pretty damn important people for that matter- find you interesting and worthy of good conversation, and important, you can remember exactly who you are.  You can remember that you are actually interesting and important and worthy of good conversation and friendship.

It felt great.

Now…not that I believe celebrities are any different or better than we are.  I’ve been around enough of them to know that, and I don’t get star-struck and awkward around any that I’ve met, but I really do genuinely look up to and respect each of those people, celebrities or not, that I met that day, so getting to not only watch them work, but meet them, have them interested in me and who I was, and share personal and memorable unique experiences with them, means the world to me.  Maybe that’s why they all kept comin’ back to me…because I treated them like people!  I talked to them like people.  Because they are, you know.   People.  That’s all everyone is.  And that is how I treat everyone.  It’s just how I was raised.  You’re not better than me but I’m also not better than you.  We are all people who deserve respect and kindness brought to us.  No one deserves to place themselves on a higher pedestal in order to make someone feel smaller.  Some people can do that and it’s easy to get caught in that tangled web, believe yourself to be less than, but if you’re true to yourself, and treat people the way you want to be treated, good things will come to you.  I promise.  It may take some time, you may wonder if things will ever look up again, but if you stay on that course, you’ll get your reward for being a good person.  And that’s what I believe may have happened to me on this trip.

BUT…that all does not change the fact that those incredibly important People made me feel like one incredibly important Person for an hour!  Screw those other audience members!!  Me!  Me!  ME!!  They chose ME to be their friend! Bwahahahaha!!!!

I mean, one can only be kind for so long, ya know?


Til next time, my lovelies, when we talk anniversary lunch and dinner…

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