Posts Tagged ‘food network’
I volunteered to work on several of the days but they only scheduled me for one day, the 2nd (I found out only later that I could have shown up for the other days anyway). So, Sunday, I went to the volunteer tent on 10th Avenue and 15th St. It’s such an interesting area. It’s the border of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, which is becoming the chic neighborhood for the young and well heeled. As you walk from the more easterly part of Chelsea, the atmosphere begins to change. From beautiful, well-maintained brownstones and charming little restaurants, it begins to take on the aura of what you would expect of a meatpacking district: industrial, gritty, and stark. Soon, you reach the overpass and the West Side Highway. Tucked into the little side streets, though, are the original cobblestone streets, remnants of Old New York, and tough as hell to drive over.
What fascinates me about this area, however, is that it’s become the depository of haute designer boutiques. Some designers who have outposts here are Stella McCartney, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Alexander McQueen, who designed those nutty shoes Lady Gaga wears in the “Bad Romance” video and who committed suicide last year. This has become known as Gansevoort Market. On 9th Ave., is the Chelsea Market, a gourmand’s Emerald City.
But I digress. From the volunteer tent, we went off to Pier 57 on 11th Ave. Security was tight because apparently they’d had some sort of issue (I guess that’s how you know that chefs are the new rock stars!). This was the Grand Tasting, where restaurants, wineries, and food producers got a chance to show off their goods.
We were given a stack of assignments to choose from and I chose to work with Marble Lane at Dream Downtown restaurant. The special dish they were preparing was Guinness-Braised Kobe Short Ribs on Cheddar Biscuits. And, boy, was that Kobe popular! From about 12 to 5 p.m., I worked non-stop scooping the hot, shredded beef onto a portable flat-top grill, adding jus and salt, then doling it out among the split biscuits, which had been warmed. At various times, I also dotted the biscuits with horseradish sauce and sprinkled chives onto the finished product. The cook I was working with was getting bin and bin of biscuits as needed, sprinkling micro greens at the end, and did the sauce thing initially. When I approached the stall, the guy was really busting his hump and I think I relieved him a little bit. In total, we probably made hundreds of little sandwiches. HUNDREDS! The demand never stopped. Luckily for me, the vendor right next to us was a winery (I’m sorry that I can’t remember the name, but I was busting my own hump), and the guys were really nice and gave us some really lovely Prosecco to try. Thanks, guys.
Five o’clock arrived and I couldn’t believe that 5 hours had passed and I had not taken single break. Not to walk around, not to schmooze, not even to pee. When I emerged from the cave of beef, I realized that people were heading out and vendors were shutting down. I was so busy working, that I had not stopped to actually enjoy the festival! I was probably to only schmuck to do that. And my back was to the public the whole time, so I didn’t even get to see people. I kept hearing Guy Fieri’s voice at the demo stage and I wanted so much to go over there, but I stayed put. I didn’t want the people of Marble Lane to think I was a wuss or a shirker. Executive Chef Manuel Trevino, was really sweet and offered me dinner sometime soon. I really look forward to that.
I said my goodbyes to the guys I was working with and quickly made my way down the aisles, grabbing every sample I could get my hands on, from cheese to chocolate to wine and even pasta. I had some very interesting alcoholic drinks. Don’t ask me to name anything because I was working my way around like a bolt of lightning before everything was gone. I grabbed some blood oranges, which are still waiting to be turned into blood orange martinis.On my way out, I heard applause, so I followed it. There was a stage area near the entrance and someone had just introduced Anthony Bourdain, who came out and sat in a chair. Presumably, it was going to be a chat session. I wanted to stay, but I had another agenda in mind.
I headed back over to the volunteer tent to get directions to the very last event: The after-party hosted by Guy Fieri at his “Garage” on 15th St. I was volunteering my time to work that event, too, in the hopes of getting to meet some people. Two of my classmates had volunteered, too, and they met a bunch of Food Network people. I, on the other hand, had met no one. One of my classmates and I managed to get into the “kitchen,” where food was being prepared for Guy’s private party. The kitchen was really just a big studio space, set up with a food prep station by the caterer. As best as I can remember, the menu consisted of bruschetta that we brushed with a variety of barbecue sauces Guy came out with, and topped them with flank steak (at least, I think it was flank), sliced thinly by the catering staff; sliders of beef and slaw; and warmed tortilla chips with salsa. We all worked very hard to get everything done on time.
Aside from trays coming back because Guy either wanted them warmer or with more meat, everything went pretty smoothly. Shouts of “He’s coming up. He’s coming up!” kept getting me all excited, but he never came up to see us, which sucked. Later, when the work was over, I went downstairs to the main party and watched him onstage as he said some stuff. Although he did thank the volunteers and said that none of it could have happened without us, I felt gypped that I didn’t get to meet him or anyone. My friend and I stood there, trying to unwind with some apple martini-type drinks we’d grabbed and realized that that was pretty much it for us. Anne Burrell passed by, as did Claire Robinson from Food Network Challenge, but that’s as close as I got to any of the FN chefs.
I couldn’t stay for the party because I had to be at work the next day and it was already close to 11 p.m. I guess I’ll have to wait until I become a celebrity chef myself to meet any others. C’est la vie.
And that was my big, wild experience at the Food Network Food & Wine Festival. I didn’t even get a souvenir. If I get to do again next year, I’m going to do it right.
Hi, gang. It’s the second day of the 2010 and I’ve been thinking about what to write for this week’s blog. The last couple of days, I’ve been breathing a sigh of relief that 2009 is over. It’s been an extremely difficult year for me, as well as for many other people. I’ve had turmoil and disarray in just about every area of my life. Although some really awesome things happened, too, they happened amidst craziness. So, it was kind of like finding pearls on a beach and having to brush away the sand to really see it.