Thursday, March 1
What I do want to talk about is the Food Network Awards After Party.
This was one of the coolest events I've ever been to. Meryl and Abby of KB Network News were kind enough to hook us up with invites to this exclusive event, held at the Paris Theater in Miami.
We were greeted by an amazingly lit entryway with a waiter holding a tray of what I think were pomegranate vanilla martinis. I can't remember exactly, as I was too amazed by the surroundings. Inside the main area were long, narrow high tables with glowing tabletops and clear stools. There was also a lower-level dance floor and DJ.
Every waiter looked like he was a dancer for Madonna-- each one defined and muscular and wearing a tight grey t-shirt and white apron. The girls were hot, too. And the hors d'oeuvres-- the HORS D’OEUVRES! They were-- to use a Paula Deen-ism--out of this world.
We had chicken empanadas, pecan-crusted Cajun catfish, sweet potato croquettes, crabcakes, lobster, shrimp, mini Kobe beef sandwiches, and so many more delicious things-- all this after already going out to dinner AND eating all day at the Grand Tasting Village.
Oh, and did I mention that Dave Lieberman was there when we walked in? He was. And, the best part, when I walked past him he gave me a nod of recognition! I had to keep it cool, though, as I wasn't really sure who was even invited to this thing. Was it for high-rolling donors? Organizers?
Then Alton Brown and his wife showed up. Then George Duran. Then the Hearty Boys and Bobby Flay. And Robert Irving and Marc Summers.
Needless to say, I was pretty excited by all of this. People were flocking around them, so I figured everyone was feeling the same way I was. At one point near the end of the night Emeril and Giada showed up. I was standing right next to her! I was pretty close to her during the day at the book signing, but there was something... special about being in this environment around all of them. I don't mean to sound like a stalker; it was just a surreal experience.
Giada was in and out quickly. I didn't want to take any pictures inside of the party (the one above was from my cellphone) since it seemed too tacky. I didn't mind following her outside (like several others did) and snap a few before she stepped into her Lincoln Towncar:-) She (like all of the Food Network stars I saw over the weekend) is so generous to her fans and seems genuinely happy to hear just how much people like and respect her.
As the night progressed I gathered up the courage to speak to a few of the people there. Everyone else was approaching them and I'm sure there questions were pointless, right :-)
The first person I said hello to was George Duran. I mentioned how much I enjoyed his demonstration that day and that I was excited to hear he would be hosting "Secret Life of..." That's a good things to say, right? Shows that I am knowledgeable.
He was very nice and told me he'd been all over the country filming episodes and that he "can't believe he's getting paid" to do the things he's doing.
I mentioned I was "with" (people kept asking me that the whole weekend: "Who are you with?") Food Network Addict and he said, "How did they let you in?"
WHAT?! He said it as a joke and I guess I should take it as a compliment that he even knew what my site was about. Still, it's not like I said I was with the "Sandra Lee is the devil incarnate network" or something like that. I don't say anything that bad about anyone on the FN, do I? At least not anything that everyone isn't already thinking :-)
Anyhow, I knew I wanted to talk to Marc Summers. As a child, I would watch hours and hours of Double Dare and What Would You Do? I was so jealous of the kids who got to go to Orlando and be on his game shows.
I had already seen him on the beach earlier in the day.
I think I kept this conversation a bit more controlled than the one with Dave (the Stoli Blueberry and sodas probably helped relax me), but I was still nervous. I thanked him for making my childhood so entertaining and mentioned the amazing entry on Wikipedia documenting him and his Nickelodeon shows. He asked who I was with (of course), shook my hand, and told me he'd check it out.
As he walked away, I could feel my FACE PULSATING. I could literally feel my heartbeat in my cheeks and forehead. Who knew I would have such a strong reaction to just speaking with Marc Summers? :-)
I immediately texted Amanda and told her about her interaction. She smartly replied, "He's already washing you off," referencing his highly-pubic battle with OCD. So funny she is!
I also spoke with Steve McDonagh of The Hearty Boys. I told him I posted about his and Dan's auction item and talked about Chicago and the Midwest weather. I also mentioned how much I liked their new set for the second season. Steve liked it too, but said the "living room" is really hard to light and that's why they rarely shoot in it.
Steve was very excited about their new restaurant opening soon in Chicago that includes an outdoor area ("Something Chicago really needs"). Their other restaurant, HB, was just sold to one of their chefs.
As the night raged on, Jared and I were delighted with just being there and listening to the music, which got progressively louder and more dance-oriented. The drinks and food kept flowing throughout the night but by 2 a.m. we were ready to head back to the hotel.
All in all, a wonderful night.
PS- Dave cut out of the party early and evidently headed on up to another one, as reported by Page Six. Judging from his performance at the cooking battle the next day, I'm not really surprised:-/ Oh well... it's Miami. Gotta live it up.