Saturday I headed out to the Grand Tasting Village for my cooking demonstration. Promptly after a sweet intro by Lauren Mueller, our director of public relations, I hit the stage at 3:15 to cook, for real :-) ...
That's me welcoming the crowd. It was packed, save for about 10 seats in the direct sun, some smart people decided to stand in the corner instead of sweat! It was hot!! I'm wearing jeans because my closet is a mess, I have no idea were my cargos or shorts are, I'm lucky I'm not wearing a turtleneck, as it's still cold in NYC lol. Anyway, I had a full menu with my Sweet Potato Hash and my Easy String Beans and Onions, but started with my Sweet Glazed Butterflied Chicken. All of these recipes are on the way in season 9 of Cooking for Real, can't wait for you to see it! First things up, let's do the butterfly!!I'm a skin junkie and the butterfly is the way to maximize my happiness. I like to start my cooking demos with technique so I can spend the rest of the time gossiping and talking about life stuff. If you were there, you now know which American Idol I can't stand, simply because she makes "it" look so easy! So, really ... I LOVE HER! You also know the difference between my South Carolina grandma and my North Carolina grandma teeheehee. Ok, so mid-way through my cooking demonstration, I noticed people a bit distracted with something left of the stage. I quickly turned to see these guys walking up to join me on stage for the fun ...We actually took that pic after my cooking demonstration was over. Guy and Emeril were so kind to jump on stage with me, it was a total surprise and really nice of them both. As I've said many times, Emeril gave me my start, with out him, I wouldn't be on Food Network. Then, Guy was the first host I met at the network that basically said to me "here's all my info, call or email if you have ANY questions about the gig". I took him up on the offer (which people hardly ever expect when they offer) and like a champ, he imparted some serious jewels I'm still very thankful for. So, it was really nice of them to jointly step up on the stage with me and say hi to the crowd. Just an hour or so later, I'd do the same and walk onto Guy's stage with Emeril and Robert Irvine. We went out to start the show and his crowd was so wild they all stood up in anticipation of Guy. I took this picture from the back of the crowd after we did the intro ... Pretty crowded, eh? You can barely see him, may have to click to enlarge the pic. I told Guy he's all over the place in NYC because now there's a Minute to Win it lottery ticket. Crazy. I was so excited to tell you about Guy and Emeril joining in on my demonstration, that I forgot to tell you about the Oscar winning celeb we had in the audience ...That's DJ Paul of Three 6 Mafia. Of course, they won an Oscar a few years back for a soundtrack song to Hustle & Flow. I was totally caught off guard when he walked up to me and said he watched Cooking for Real all the time! I then asked him if he was "ready for this!?", he said "yup", so I told him how about 10 years ago when I turned 25, he performed with his group at my birthday party in Detroit, Michigan along with rapper Trina. Yep, I loved them long before the Academy Award :-). I was a radio dj at the time and begged for them to come perform and they did. The party was a sellout and it had so much to do with them showing up for the fun. He immediately remembered the night because of some unique circumstances, but it was neat for him to realize it was me then and here I am now, lol. Really funny moment and so neat to find he watches the show all the time. He talked to me about specific recipes and everything, pretty cool. I plan to have him visit the show in the next season and he's promised me he'd bring the Oscar along. That should be a fun episode, I'm already planning the menu! We all chatted for a few, then I bumped into this b*#chin' chick ...That's Nadia G, Host of Cooking Channel's B*#chin' Kitchen. I saw her the night before at the BubbleQ event, but it was too crowded to get to her, so I was happy to stop and chat at the grand tasting tent. She's really neat, check out her show if you aren't already b*#chin' :-). Ok, thennnnn the night before I stopped by the BubbleQ event and quickly found I had to go straight to the back of the tent for a trio of fun ...Word of mouth is the way to go at these events and it's usually the first thing I'm asking people "where's the good stuff?", as if it isn't all good, but you get me. I can't possibly eat all 30 booths of food. So that pic above is from the booth in the back with all the buzz. The chef is holding what I lovingly will call a "trough of love". It's one-third each of mac n cheese, BBQ and baked beans. Look at the display they had to advertise the "trough of love" ... I think the baked beans were the best followed by the BBQ and the mac. I headed over to get some cheesy grits from another booth and ran into Alex Guarnaschelli getting some desserts from a guy walking around with food furniture attached to him lol ... is that what you call it? "Food furniture"?? ...He was really nice and funny. I looked, but didn't get a dessert. I was saving myself for some cheese grits ...I must admit, I only ate the grits. I know there are short ribs involved and I'm a sucker for them, but after the "trough of love", I didn't have much space left. Alex actually came on stage with me at my demo the next day and told the crowd how I asked for an extra serving of grits, I totally did. I mean, a dollop of grits?! That just isn't right ... I mean a couple of spoonfuls, yes ... a dollop, no. Teeheehee, plus they were super creamy. Really can't go wrong with creamy grits. right after that, I started heading towards the front of the tent to leave, it was such a huge tent that it really took about 45 minutes to get from one end to the other. Right as I got to the end, I ran into Ingrid Hoffman ...She's so delicioso :-), I told her I watch her show on Galavision to learn the language faster. I already know plenty of food words in Spanish, so it makes it easier to learn the other words. Love it!
Alright, that's it for my visit to Miami except for a place that has become a must-visit. I'm talking about Haitian restaurant Tap Tap. I ordered the stewed chicken, rice and peas and fried plantains ...Geez, I was so happy I took it easy all weekend so I could indulge in some goodness! Ok, that's all I have left of the 2011 Sobe Wine and Food Festival! Mark your calendar for 2012 ... February 23-26!!!
Stick around, I have a photo shoot tomorrow with a contestant from this season of Apprentice, can you guess who it may be??