Monday, May 11, 2009

Dimwit Twit: My Visit Down Home w/ the Neely's

Hey! So remember when I went down to SoBe for the Wine and Food Festival? Well, I got to spend a bit more time with the Neely's there and we just really hit it off. They have such great chemistry and have plenty of fun at work, which is how I like to keep it. Light and easy, no stress. They invited me to join them on their show and I thought I'd bring you along for my second Dimwit Twit, or tweet, you know the deal ...I expect to go over on the 140 character limit ... this is totally not Twitter :-).

Thursday March 26, 2:30PM: Like the Rachael Ray visit and any other television show visit, there is the pre-interview. We had to figure out if I was coming on the show, just what would my part be? So, on the line was just myself and one of the producers. She began by telling me how the show worked and which one they wanted me to guest on. The episode theme is "High on the Hog". That's a term we used plenty growing up when eating a fancy meal, because the more expensive parts of the pig are the one's furthest from the ground. So, I was familiar with the phrase and the funny thing is immediately in my head I thought of two desserts, but kept my mouth shut to hear the rest of the show's menu description. When the producer finished talking to me about the current menu, she suggested my part of the show would be to come up with a dessert! Well, great thing is, I was thinking a spiked tiramisu. Tiramisu because it is classy and kinda fit the High on the Hog theme, plus as pretty and fancy as it is, it really is the easiest to prepare. Then a split second later my brain came up with the word "highball". I knew that was a type of drink, I also knew I wanted to spike the tiramisu ... so it was set, my dessert recipe on Down Home with the Neely's would be called "Highball Tiramisu". All I had to do now was take what was in my head and mentally on my tongue, then transfer it into a recipe. I got off the phone with a bit of work to do, but I was happy I came up with something so quick. Again, I get nervous my brain won't work during moments like this, then boom! Highball Tiramisu! lol ... I have work to do ....

Friday March 27, 8:00AM: I just finished writing the recipe and can't seem to find one place in my local hood that sells ladyfingers! Quite alright, I can taste the recipe in my head and it's fine, so I email it to the producer for approval. The real issue is now that I've thought about and written the recipe, I want to taste it so I head to a major grocery store and abandon my local grocers for a lady finger hunt. There I find several varieties and decide I'd like to try them all with my recipe so I can make a brand or type recommendation in the ingredient listing. This sometimes helps people make the recipe just like they see it on the show. I head home and make 3 different batches, throw them in the fridge and wait for the 2 hours of chill time to pass. I give a taste and instantly know my preference and make edits to my recipe. I also know which one is best because my dude empties the glass with lots of clinking noises. I made some more ... this time in a tray, here's his damage so far ...
It isn't picture perfect because quite like I think a mom of 5 kids may feel, my dude hovered over me for this, so I slapped it together after making 3 previous batches and knew that no matter what he'd kill it ... I don't even think he waited for it to chill teeheehee. (curious? that's some gravy/sauce I'm developing on the left with the 1/4" fat layer and on the right, a familiar brand of ground chicken.)

I forgot to mention another thing about the title; it's twofold, it's a Highball Tiramisu because of the alcohol content, but also because I plan to layer it in high ball glasses like a parfait. I get into cute titles and stuff like that, when it works. So now I'm comfy with the recipe and all I have to do is wait for the trip!

WEEKS ELAPSE >>>>>>>

Sunday May 3, 9:40AM: I'm 10 minutes late getting into the car service heading to the airport. So nice of the Neely's to send a car :-).  Halfway to the airport I realize I forgot something and have my dude race to the airport with it, what a mess I am lol. I hate flying and get anxious beforehand, so stuff like forgetting to pack items also adds to the anxiety. I don't know how people do it when they just fly and don't stress, I stress. 

Sunday May 3, 10:25AM: Arrive at the airport. I sat in the front area waiting on my dude to pull up with my suitcase's missing items and take this time to calm my flying nerves with a bit of music ... last week, I joined civilization and bought an iPod lol, I know I'm late.

Sunday May 3, 10:50AM: My dude arrives and before the cop could even tell him go, he was gone. Remember the days when you could sit and actually wait at the airport? Now it's like slow the car down and roll out the door, do not stop, do not pass go ... etc. I head through security, buy two travel magazines and a coffee then head to board the plane.

Sunday May 3, 1:47: Yaaaaay! I'm in Memphis! What a flight, it was a small plane! I'm met at the airport by a production assistant I'll call K-solo. The first thing he asked was the first thing I needed, a stop at a store. I needed all things that come in sizes larger than what is it ... 4 ounces? I really hate that flying rule, but I enjoy my safety so I'll deal with it. Each brand should come up with a travel size, because the travel sizes offered are never the brands I like, feel me? I get my goods and snag a bag of Cheetos Flamin' Hot, cuz they are hard to find in NYC and hop back into the car with K-solo. We get to the hotel I'm staying in and I realize there's no nail salon within miles. Did I tell you I don't drive? I mean I used to, but I don't anymore and now my license is expired, so I couldn't rent a car. That means I gotta walk ... and I don't mind it, but it was raining! Did I pack an umbrella? Nope. Did the hotel have a loaner umbrella? Nope. So ...

Sunday May 3, 3:30PM - I run in the rain across the parking lot to a shopper's oasis ... TJ MAXX! (love the new commercials btw if you haven't seen them they are hilarious. I need to have a buying intervention with a friend of mine lol) As soon as I walked in dripping wet, there were jillions of umbrellas to choose from right at the entrance. I got one, then headed to Sally's Beauty Supply down the strip mall for some nail stuff, mainly a buffer. I like a shiny nail with no polish, easy to keep clean and looks decent on tv. I got back to my room and settled in, dinner was in a few hours with the production team.

is this boring??? see ... I think twitter would be boring too ... i digress ...

Sunday May 3, 6:30PM -Dinner with two of the Down Home with the Neely's producers. Can I confess? I was so hungry after the flight that when I got back to the hotel from my rainy errand run, I promptly walked across the street and got a bite for take out at Joe's Crab Shack. There were memories there because I spent my 31st birthday at a Joe's in California, I was alone then and sad. What a difference a few years make :-). Very wack crackin crab legs solo on your bday lol. It was nice to change the memory of that place to a spot that gave me much needed nutrition after long morning followed by a run through the rain. Anyway, I didn't eat much at dinner with the producers, but the conversation was great and I knew that the following day of taping would be fun based on what we discussed.

Sunday May 3, 10:15PM - We all returned to the hotel and turned in for the night. I stayed up a bit to clean and buff my nails just in case they got a close up the next day and then I tried to sleep, but it didn't work. A combination of being what I call "too tired" and some music coming from I think the gym next door kept me up a bit, but somewhere between 1 and 2AM, I got to sleep.

Monday May 4, 11:00AM - I get picked up at the hotel by K-solo and he takes me to Horton's where I load up on donuts and coffee, have you seen these donuts??? HUGE, take a look at the top row ...
Then we head out for the drive to the Neely's home, not set. Yep, they tape at home and the kitchen you see on the show is theirs. They began the series taping in a rental home, but then decided it would be easier and make so much more sense for them to build a kitchen for television at home.

11:30ish - We get there and there's plenty of activity. There's an attachment to the house that is a make-shift prep kitchen for the culinary staff and cars are parked everywhere. Looking further into the back yard area I see camera and stuff set up and hear a familiar voice. It's Gina, she's taping the interview portion of the show. I really like this part of the show, it gives up a bit more background on the recipes and the people in their family. Very neat. She stops to say hi real quick, but I have to head inside the house to get my hair and make up done and she still has questions to answer during the interview. We part and I go inside to get settled. 

From here ... gotta be honest, I lose track of time. We are in a taping bubble where time slows and flies alternately. Here are some pics ...
This is Gina's Glam Squad, Kim, Kris and Greg ... fab hair, fab face and fab clothes, respectively. :-). We all had too much fun talking and laughing, it felt like old friends or family. Very cool vibe and I love what they did with the scrap I gave em ... here I am halfway through the process ...
See, all smiles! Then when I was done getting all made up, I headed back into the kitchen area to re-introduce myself to the crew ... that's how drastic a change it was with the before and after lol. Everyone had a good laugh and then I told Pat to smile for the cam ...

That's Mark, one of his producers on the way out of a smile or on the way into a smile, either way he is caught mid-emotion, but he's a smiler. :-) By this time it was lunchtime and everyone ordered out, I got SONIC! I saw it on the drive over and made a mental note. I would turn down a Michelin star meal for those onion rings! Later during the shoot we had to move outside for the grilling segment and we all kept talking about how it was about to rain and ruin the shoot. Here's Pat about to shoot his scene ...

Then, Gina arrives and I've cleverly cropped out a really neat grill she has because it hasn't been revealed on the show yet, but you must see this grill ladies (hint)! MUST SEE! Here they are both prepping together, but separately. It's such a dance and they do it gracefully, really not much coaching on the personality and interaction. Only "Action!" and "Cut!"


8PM-ish - It's a Wrap! We beat the rain, sure it came down for about 5 minutes, but the crew scrambled and got everything out of the rain and back into it, just in time for our final shot. We ended eating the meal at the table, then dessert on some patio benches. No sooner did we finish eating was there a surprise celebration for one of the producers ... she'd just gotten engaged! So, on the tail of Highball Tiramisu, we all had cake and champagne! What a way to end the day and really it wasn't over. 

Monday May, 4 9ish - I then headed out to dinner with Gordon Elliot and the entire production team. Gordon is cool and that's all I can say really, just cool. I could talk to him about everything for hours, he's lived such a life and he has a radio career under his belt like me, so plenty to chat about. We all dined on sushi (my tummy was like, really? ... donuts, coffee, bbq, Sonic Drive-in onion rings, foot long coney and cherry limeade, Highball Tiramisu, champagne, and now sushi??? lol)

Tuesday May, 5 - Fly home! My flight was delayed, but I didn't mind. I had an iPod and plenty of work to do online. Hope you like the show when it airs, I'll post the air date as soon as I know. 

12 comments:

The Duo Dishes said...

Love reading all of these things about your days. It makes all of us feel like we are right there with you...and it's much better than Twitter. :) Tiramisu is a hard one to pass up. The more liquor and chocolate, the better. Yes!

Mark said...

Sunny....you are welcome back any time! It was great to have you down home with us.
Mark

Schottzie03 said...

Hi Sunny! I love your show and your blog!

Here comes my weird comment/request though (I understand if you don't want to put this in the comments section since it is not a comment on the story)...

The little dots all over the background of your page look really cool, but to readers like me (who check in once a week or so and catch up on everything you've written), the dots create a weird optical illusion where you continue to see them while looking at pictures or trying to read.

Maybe they don't interfere with the reading if you are just checking out the page really quick...but when I tried to read a couple of longer posts in a row today...I got kinda dizzy!

Anyway, you rock! Congrats on all your success and I wish you much much more...

Sunny Anderson said...

the duo dishes, thanks! so good to know i'm hittin the mark on the blog, sometimes i have to do a "blah check" like ... is this drivel or good stuff?! lol and yeah, tiramisu is soooooooo good and simple to make right! all ya gotta do is find the l.fingers :-)

mark!!! hey! welcome to my blog ... you guys treated me so well. please pass on thanks to k-mac aka k-solo :-). can't wait to see the show!

schottzie03, wow! thanks for that hint ... i totally appreciate the feedback. right now i have my girl workin on the new website, as soon as it's done i'll have her redesign this page so it's easier to read. so when u see the change, brush your nails on your shoulder ... it's all cuz of you :-).

Mai said...

Sunny you are hilarious! You have me ROTFL from your comments. I concur with another poster I feel like I'm there with you. From the Flamin Hot Cheetos, ipod, K-Solo (I remember him)lol, expired license, TJ Maxx. OMG I can't take it :) I love the Nelly's also, I can't wait to see the episode.

Washington, DC

Sunny Anderson said...

mai, thanks for checkin the blog. people always say i'm funny and i'm like really? i just think life is funny, ya know? i am currently jealous of you cuz i'm feenin for some ben's chili bowl and you are from d.c.! soon as i know the airdate, i'll let ya know.

Nkoyo said...

Hey Sunny, the Neely's experience sounds pretty cool. I do get that sense about them, that when you come there they treat you like family. BTW, I've been meaning to ask you this: Exactly how were you approached to do a FN show? I do remember you in the past talking about an Emeril experience, but it still seems kinda hazy. First, take me to the moment when you weren't doing anything in Food TV but were in radio and catering. How did they originally learn of you and how did the convo go when they approached you about a show? How were you feeling?

Sunny Anderson said...

nkoyo, well, to answer. i was working at hot97 at the time and i was constantly catering industry events... parties, corporate meetings, studio sessions for artists, etc. then one day i got an email from the programming assistant at hot97, it was about how food network called and wanted to talk to me about being on emeril live. i didn't have management like the other dj's so, basically they called my boss and got her assistant. turns out, one of emeril's audience coordinators listened to me on the radio and heard me always talking about food and my catering biz, in addition emeril had a band and they thought it would be neat to finally have a hip hop performance on his show. so, stars aligned with food and music for me and i got my chance. i was excited and had no idea it would put me here, but after that day taping his show i was determined to try it because it felt like a natural extension of what i already did, but for radio. i loved music, pop culture and talking, so radio worked. there i was inlove with food and coking for others and sharing those recipes, so it wasn't much of a mental stretch to want to do the same with food as i had with music. share and spread the love about it. so here i am ... and i am thoroughly thankful and happy. it took so much work, omg ... i can't even begin to tell you. meetings, plenty of anxious tears, hard decisions, lots of stuff ... but i can't believe i did it and am thankful you are here for the journey! goals can be achieved, if you work towards them. hope that answers the question :-)

Nkoyo said...

I feel you Sunny to the Nth degree! I'm def one of those ppl that feel that dreams really come true when you picture them and work towards it. And you know what's so cool about it? It's more about quality of heart than anything else. When it comes to getting what you truly want out of life, you can have all the academic training in the world but it will never teach you that "it" quality that makes someone shine. Good job girlie! You answered the question and then some. BTW, this is totally on a different subject, but have you heard Pink's song "Sober"? Better yet, the whole album? I must admit, it took me a while before I even knew that was the name of that song. But once I got it, it blew me away with its level of deepness. Your thoughts?

Wife of Rob said...

I love your show as much as I do the Neelys....more real people, just like you. Can't wait to find out when this airs. Keep up the great work...you (and the Neelys) have a definite edge and have cornered the "home cook" market on FN (Paula Deen and Aaron McCargo as well). Coming from a childhood of watching Christmas specials...I think that all of the FN home cooks need to get together and do a Christmas special. I know it's just the end of May, but it never hurts to think ahead ;o)

Sunny Anderson said...

wife of rob, thanks so much. i can't wait to see it either! we did so much stuff i don't know what will make it in the show. the food was all so amazing! and you know what?! you're smart ... because we actually already taped a holiday special ... last year! maybe it will rerun this year, but i have blogs written about it. just search the old posts ...

Sunny Anderson said...

wife of rob, thanks so much. i can't wait to see it either! we did so much stuff i don't know what will make it in the show. the food was all so amazing! and you know what?! you're smart ... because we actually already taped a holiday special ... last year! maybe it will rerun this year, but i have blogs written about it. just search the old posts. i think some of the links may also be up on foodnetwork.com.