Tuesday, February 27
Anyhow, lots more to share...
As I mentioned in the last post, Paula started 30 minutes after Martha went on, so I ran down to catch her entrance.
During the part of the demo that I was able to see, Paula made crab-stuffed, bacon-wrapped shrimp and crab cakes.
She also dragged out
There really is no way to describe them other than perfect.
Before I knew it, I had to jet so I could see Giada start her presentation (they don't give you much of a break if you wanna see all the FN stars).
She had a huge crowd already in place by the time I got there, but I managed to go up to the side and get a pretty good view. She came out a few minutes late, but she's just too delightful to care, isn't she? She was very personable from the start and let us know a bit about her menu (swordfish, citrus pesto, arugula salad with Gorgonzola balls) and told us to ask questions, which became a big theme of all of the culinary demos I saw.
It was nice to hear her say that festivals like these allow her to actually meet her fans. "I don't know who you are, otherwise," she said. She even came right out from behind the counter to welcome us (and give some technicians a closer view).
Giada fulfilled at least one man's fantasy by letting him come up onstage and be her assistant (sorry camera guys).
Like a lot of the chefs presenting, Giada focused on citrus-themes in her demo, as lemons and limes are huge in Florida.
As far as I could tell, the cooking was secondary to many of the attendees at the festival. Lots of people flocked to the tents to catch a glimpse and a quick photo only to leave after a few minutes. I'm sure part of this was due to the fact that there was simply so much going on and there was only so much time to get everything in. Still, I think it says a lot about this new way many of us look at Food Network personalities (and other "food/chef-related" people on TV).
Many of the big names at the festival received "rock star"-like attention.
This was really apparent during the stars' book signings. When I walked over to see Paula there was a huge line snaked down the beach-- each person holding one of Paula's cookbooks purchased conveniently at the entrance tent.
For some reason, the festival organizers put Paula and the rest of them under a tent with no sides. This made it possible for anyone and everyone to just walk up right next to whomever was signing and haggle them endlessly. Also, on the other side of the tent was a chain link fence separating festival attendees and the public beach, where anyone who cared to walk by could approach them.
I found this quite odd, as I've been to a few book signings for Food Network stars and they have the most intense (even comical) security in place. They are willing to completely reconfigure the Barnes and Noble just to block Giada or Paula or Ina off from anyone who didn't wait in line.
I'm sure this was annoying to those who actually waited, as the fans who chose to just come up to the side and yell repeatedly weren't reprimanded while some even got their picture or signature that they ever-so wanted, but not willing to wait for.
At Paula's, there was about 15 people on the side yelling "Hey Girl!" "Hey!" "Hey Paula!" "Smile at me!" "Look at me Paula!"-- it was so annoying and I felt so bad for Paula, because as jovial as she is, you could tell how grating it was for her. She was trying her best to give her full attention to the person in front of her.
It was even worse during Rachael's. This woman kept yelling "RACHAEL, RACHAEL, look at me... I'm a grandmother!"
What's worse was that she kept pronouncing it "RACIAL, RACIAL, RACIAL." Why does it matter than you're a grandmother, woman?! Grandmothers not allowed in that line? Ugh... it was annoying. Then, as she was whisked away by security (Rachael, not the woman... but that would have been nice)I heard people say "It looks like she put on a few pounds," "No, I think she lost weight," "I think she has one of those spray-on tans."
BTW...I wasn't hiding in some sort of palm tree/bush to get these pictures of Rachael. It adds a nice tropical feel to the pics though, right? :-)
I guess I can't talk that bad about people standing on the side, as I would have missed out on probably the best experience of the festival.. a surprise chat and handshake with someone I post about quite frequently:-) That's coming up next... tomorrow!