Wednesday, August 18, 2010

FN Mag VP Visit on stands now!

photo credit for this picture: Steve Giralt.
Hey there! Well it's out!!!!!!!
That's the September 2010 issue of Food Network Magazine out on stands now, or if you are like my mommy, it's in your mailbox. Subscribe here :-). Back in May this year I visited the residence of the Vice President and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden for a very special occasion: A Cookout with the Troops! The entire day was about honoring our war veterans - active duty and retired. The Biden's son served in the war so taking care of the troops is not just something that is important to them politically, they actually understand the needs and concerns because they are affected by what happens in the military right at home. The whole story of how this event came together is in the magazine, but know the focus was more so on the wounded veterans and their families than anything. I know I was there to deliver the flavor, but I also felt honored to have a chance to say thank you in person to some very deserving war vets. The Biden's often visit hospitals caring for our war veterans and on one visit just weeks before the cookout they invited some people they met to join them at home to eat and relax by the pool. I'm sure it seemed like an empty promise to the hospitalized troops, but just weeks later we would all sit pool side and enjoy a moment away from the realities of the day and honor them. Yes, there's a pool at the Vice Presidential residence, thanks to Dan Quayle, he added it during his time in office. Neat little piece of trivia I picked up during the tour. You may visualize the Vice President and his family hanging out at the pool, but I asked how often they actually get time to do that and our tour guide said, save for special events, never. Looks like Quayle had plenty of time on his hands, eh? Anyway, I gave you some behind the scenes stuff right here on the blog and you can catch up by reading the links below...

More Recipes Please May 20th - before the visit, recipe and menu planning.

Chili Chili Bang Bang May 24th - during the visit to Washington D.C., figuring out what to wear.

and ...

Post VP Vittles May 26th - just after the visit.

Now that the article is out, I can share a few more behind the scenes details and pics. Ok, let's start with a fun one! After all of the menu planning detailed in the blog linked above, I got around to telling some friends and family about my impending visit to the Vice President's residence and was surprised at the amount of people that suggested I bring back a keepsake! Ahem ... a 5-finger discounted keepsake!! :-) Funny thing is, it was already on my mind ... like what can I take?? lol Not steal, but would there be a coaster or something or maybe just a great photo that sums it all up? On the ride over to the house I asked everyone in the car if they'd received the same request ... and everyone said "no" and I giggled to myself at how crazy my friends and family are, myself included. No one said it seriously, but I think it's just what people say when you are about to visit the White House or the Vice Presidential residence. "Bring something back!". It reminds me of how people always ask you to bet one coin for them or something if they hear you are headed to a casino. Anyway, the funny thing is as we were getting settled in the pool house to prepare for the day, someone took a trip to the bathroom and came out overjoyed to find this ...
That's me dabbing my lips revealing a soft paper hand-towel stamped with the Vice Presidential seal!!! I took several self-portraits until I got my smirk just right :-). When the discovery was made in the bathroom of this "keep sake" we all crowded in there to look at the neatly stacked hand-towels and I bet each of us were thinking as we stared at the stack of soft white cloths "How many is too many to take as a souvenir?". I took two and still have them pressed between two pages of a book, old school style. I'm not telling if I saw anyone else take any ;-), but it was truly a neat moment. It's almost as if the tour of the house and the garden didn't make us feel like we were there, but the hand towel discovery did. Pretty funny, and I'm sure it is not as bad as stealing Vice Presidential china lol. Has someone actually done that? Why did everyone make that joke with me? Speaking of, there was no pomp and circumstance here, the Biden's are a laid back everyday couple so it was cool to get an email about the event that said to dress casual and prepare to dine on the Vice President's finest "plastic china". Take a look at my fried Beet chips with my newly found souvenir ;-) ...
Here's Steve, Food Network Magazine photographer and a pretty funny guy, getting the food ready for it's close up...
That's FN Mag editor in chief, Maile Carpenter helping out with the light reflector thingy. (Like my technical terminology?) We were a small crew of just 4. Myself, Maile, Steve and design director, Deirdre. Only the day before did I find out my uncle could attend and it was nice for them to invite him over from his job at The Pentagon, he's a war veteran himself and was in need of a break. When I saw our picture in the magazine I was too happy. He's commanded two waves of the 82nd Airborne in our current conflict and both times he was over there, it was hard on the entire family. Small things like saying "thank you" mean plenty and it's even better when there's food involved! Here's my Celebration Trifle waiting in the kitchen to be brought out to play ...
You can see the golden beets all sliced up and ready to fry in the background. They are soooo good fried! If you have some in your garden or at the store, give em a try! All of the recipes I served that day are available in the magazine right now or at A Cookout for the Troops on the website. There are also plenty more photos from the day there as well. I snapped a picture of the set up before everyone arrived ...
Intimate, eh? They are setting up the podium in the background for the VP and his wife's speech and at every table they had one extra empty seat for myself and the Biden's to occupy as we moved from table to table visiting with the troops and their families. Very thoughtful. Also another nice touch was the military band, Country Current, playing tunes for the cook out ...
They sounded great during warm up and when everyone packed in we all agreed the band made the cookout a real party. They were so nice and being active duty military members made it cool to them they were able to honor the war veterans as well. Everyone was just pretty much happy to say thank you in person to people that have made huge sacrifices for our freedom. After the tours, pictures and the band warming up, the honored guests and their families started showing up and shortly after that, the Vice President and his wife arrived to greet us all. I was so close I couldn't believe it! Vice President Biden began with some words and I almost cried, it was so nice to hear someone in such a high position speak the language of a military family member. He was funny, serious and so real. It was refreshing. During his brief chat he offered real commitments he and his wife were dedicated to as far as taking care of not only the war veterans, but their families. He also told of their own son's tour of duty in the Army National Guard and how his deployment to Iraq affected the family. It was a very powerful story that resonated with all the guests. Next, Vice President introduced his wife and Dr. Biden stepped to the podium to speak more about their efforts to assist military members and families struggling after returning from the war. I can't tell you how good it felt to hear them speak so freely and unscripted, it was from the heart and I continue to be so happy about that day. I was truly honored to participate, as an Army brat, an Air Force veteran and an American, I'm thankful for all that the military does to keep us safe, I couldn't say thank you enough to everyone in attendance. Catch the full story in the new issue of Food Network Magazine out now!

5 comments:

Jen said...

I subscribe to the magazine (of course! LOL) and LOVED the article! What an awesome experience!

I didn't go, but the VP was at the wedding of the girl I used to be best friends with. He's a family friend of her husband's family.

I'm so glad you got to be part of that! What an honor.

Cassandra Boston said...

Congratulation Sunny on having a successful event. I'm a fan of Food Network on Facebook so I read the article last week on Facebook. It's exciting to live vicariously through you.

Mary at Deep South Dish said...

I thought it was a fantastic feature (I'm a subscriber :) and you done good!!! ;)

Lisa said...

I picked up a copy because Alton was in this issue and was pleasantly surprised to see you and the VP party in there too.

Looks like a great time and great food.

Lisa :)

Sunny Anderson said...

jen, the pic :-(. and look at you ... 2 ways that you win the 6 degrees of separation to the vp, and i guess that's to the prez as well! glad u subscribe to, don't you love the mag? the recipes alone are like a cook book each month. very proud to be a part of it. and of course the vp event.

cassandra, thanks!! i had a great time, you can't tell in the pics of course, but it was like 100 degrees that day! i wanted to use that pool! teeheehee. about facebook, i know i have two sites on there, but i don't control them yet, fn put them up, in a month's time when i relaunch my website, the facebook account is going to me to handle, so i'll make it nice n pretty if you like facebookin' :-)

mary, thanks! i try, i try :-)

lisa, omg, i love alton. i miss the feasting series he did. the asphalt one was the best and my fave ep of good eats is when the kidnapping led to creative thanksgiving leftovers acting as the ransom money. very funny. ok, so i am so glad that your love of alton brought you to the article! now you can say you've 'met' another alton fan. :-). welcome to the blog. i am usually good about posting a couple of times a week and then sometimes daily, it depends. i just try to give an inside look to some of the goings on at food network and cooking channel. if you ever have a question or curiosity ... i'm here :-). thanks again for stopping by!