Well, the chocolate cremeaux hit the fan today, people, and I was in the thick of it. And things had been going so well.
We started out with normal setup and a SPECTACULAR food delivery before our chefs arrived. To explain, Maggie and I ordered food for our local celebrity chefs based on the recipes they gave us. It involved careful reading and much anxious consideration of what would be needed, what could go wrong. You don’t want to be onstage and find out, for instance, that someone meant sour cream instead of cream, or wanted 2 lbs of powdered sugar instead of 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. So we are very careful about what we order. But, in addition to our celebrity chefs (local TV, radio and print media personalities) our stage also features restaurant chefs who bring their own ingredients (because they are promoting their own business,) and nationallly known chefs brought in by the Home & Garden Show and Cub Foods. We (McFarland Cahill Communications) ordered Yigit’s ingredients, but the Cub Foods chefs ordered their own ingredients which arrived today. SO MUCH FOOD!!! I was scared by the size of the cuts of meat and the sheer volume of cream and garlic paste, not to mention the sesame oil and soy sauce. And then, there was the issue of food storage. I had to totally rearrange my refrigerator to accommodate the meat and cream and as much of the lettuces as I could. Then it was time for our first guest chef to arrive. And she didn’t. Poor Elizabeth Ries from KSTP TV had trouble clearing security and finding parking. I would love to be a fly on the wall because everyone seems to be having security issues but I can’t figure out where and with whom. I had to race (consider this a jog or a trot) to Bay E to let Elizabeth in a back door.
Elizabeth is both beautiful and nice, and was making dips for the audience who had assembled to offer their reverence. I partnered up with her onstage. One of the dips was a Taco Dip recipe that one of her viewers had given her and one was a Spinach Artichoke Dip that was a specialty of her own. I realized just before she arrived that her ingredient list called for 1/2 cup of cream, but the directions specified sour cream. No sour cream in the fridge. We made do by adding a little cream to the cream cheese to loosen it up and it pretty much worked. Unfortunately, in the strain of her rushed arrival, neither of us was thinking clearly and we overlooked the need to do the baked dip first so it would be ready when the cold dip was finished. We ran out of time. About halfway through I was admiring her super cute knit dress over leggings and realized with horror that, once again, I had forgotten to offer the guest an apron. Also, I didn’t offer her water until she was done, so she basically talked for an hour with a dry throat. Was she crabby? No. She couldn’t have been sweeter or more gracious. But our next chef, who arrived early, found a crazed and loopy support person (that would be me) and a stage not ready for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, Elizabeth was able to finish her presentation on her own and with the support staff that KSTP sent, and I was able to start the cleanup and prep process for our next demo. I missed the dips but I heard they were amazing, especially the half-baked Spinach Artichoke.
Our next guest was WCCO’s Frank Vascellaro and his beloved mom, Rosalie, also known as Mama V. They didn’t need me onstage as they are a team unto themselves which was great because THEN!!! A guy shows up with a new refrigerator load of lettuces and fruits. “These lettuces will be ruined if you can’t refrigerate them in the next few minutes,” he told me, as I was trying to set up for Frank and Mama V. “Okay,” I replied. “If we need to put the lettuces in, I am going to have to take out the meat.”
“You can’t take out the meat,” he said.
“All right. Well, if I can’t take out the meat, then I will have to take out the cream.”
“You can’t take out the cream,” he said.
“Well, then you see my problem,” I said. I couldn’t make the refrigerator bigger for him, no matter how much he wanted me to. Maggie and Ashley resolved the issue by helping him reach the woman who could open the doors of the convention center kitchen, but he wasn’t satisfied. What got back to us was his complaints that we allowed his perishable produce to rot on the floor for three hours when what happened was that everything was taken to refrigeration exactly at the moment that he raced off to his next important appointment, within an hour of his arrival. I even allowed him into my carefully arranged refrigerator, which he totally repacked, leaving me clueless and grasping for the eight remaining presentations. I believe he expected thanks for handling the situation, so, thanks, buddy. He was also indignant that we didn’t have unlimited enormous frying pans, although I invited him to go with me to the Royal Prestige cookware vendor, who was providing all our pans, and who pledged to give us what he could, within his capacity. Not good enough. He couldn’t believe we didn’t have two panini presses on hand. “We were promised a fully stocked gourmet kitchen!” he complained. “Macy’s gave us all the appliances we asked for, that we were informed we would need,” I told him. “Fine. Go buy two,” he told his associate, whose sigh expressed that he had twelve other things he needed to do before buying small appliances, but fine, okay, whatever.
Meanwhile, there was a ton of weirdness onstage with the microphones. There was feedback and screeching and Aaron, who is normally right there whenever we need him was taking care of issues on the other side of the convention center. Later, when he got back, we found that Frank’s microphone had slipped down the front of his shirt into his pants, causing feedback issues. It must be that Caveman Diet that Frank has had so much success with, causing extra looseness in his clothing. Seriously, he looks great! So, that funness behind us, I hear Mama V say, “Well, I don’t see the regular sugar.” Shit!!!! I realized I hadn’t set out the staples, only the special ingredients, because of the interruptions. Friends, at this point I took off at a sprint between the stage and the audience, booking it to the ingredient area at stage right. As I ran, Frank announced, “Ladies and gentlemen! This is Lynnette, our Kitchen Stage assistant!” Could I have run around the back? Probably. It didn’t occur to me. The full audience applauded and I smiled and waved, disappearing and then emerging with the sugar, followed by the flour, and later the salt, and still later additional bowls. Oh, and the powdered sugar? I had set out 1/2 cup and Mama V needed 2 lbs. I gave her the bag and prayed there would be enough left for the 2:00 chef. Frank was covered with flour and cocoa powder when they finished the presentation of gorgeous Iced Fudge Nut Brownies because I didn’t offer either of them an apron. Yes. I was a total moron, and did Frank and Rosalie tsk and shake their heads? No. They shook my hand and thanked me for all my help so graciously I wanted to cry. Meanwhile, Lee Dean, who writes for the Taste section of the Star Tribune had arrived, with all the supplies, ingredients and utensils needed for her demonstration of Strawberry Tartlets.
Lee Dean was an unknown quantity to me, and unfortunately, I was unable to conceal that from her. I used to read the taste section of the Star Tribune all the time but we haven’t taken the newspaper for years. I long for the days when I could sit and savor even the weekly paper, but it doesn’t happen. I was stressed and distracted from the earlier debacles, but Lee Dean was so smart and friendly, even as I was falling all over myself trying to help her feel as comfortable as I had wanted to make my earlier guests, and only FOUR people showed up to hear her wonderful presentation, although enough people showed up at sample time to eat her entire prepared cache of tartlets. Which were AWESOME. She has had a cookbook published, too, and the one comment I heard on that? “Not enough pictures, hahaha.” Vultures. Hey, all you foodies out there. Buy her cookbook, because from her demonstration, she is AMAZING FOOD SMART. I am totally getting it. We can share what we love about it. Let me know, we can start a facebook fan club or something. She was a trooper.
Lee finished up and I was completing the cleanup when Rena Sarigianopoulos from KARE 11 arrived. She is the package, people. She invited me to mike up and join her onstage, (I believe she is a risk-taker,) and I had so much fun with her. A ton of people gathered to see her, and a little girl strolling by with her parents squealed, “Rena!!!” upon seeing her–I am not kidding, so cute! And she is adorable and approachable and made Buckeyes, and when she was done, she helped me do dishes and we talked about her involvement with a charity for Rheumatoid Arthritis and coincidentally I had, just the day before, sponsored my neighbor Cameron for her walk for that charity (Go Cameron!) And the Buckeyes were peanut butter deliciousness wrapped in a loving chocolate hug.
Then I had an hour break and I was able to go to the bathroom for the first time in three days. Almost. How is it that I don’t notice I need to pee or eat or drink when I am working? Am I broken? I don’t know.
Then, my new best friend, Dave Dahl, meteorologist from KSTP showed up. I fell in love with Dave the day before when I met him and he expressed concern about getting in through the convention center’s back door because of the rumoured security issues. I gave him my cell # so he could call me if he had trouble, and he had problems saving it. He must have said, “I am an idiot,” seven times, which clearly he is not and so now I love him. He is just as charming in person as you’d suspect, and taller than I expected. Anyway, he showed up with no security problems, and asked me to join him onstage, and as you now know, I am a modest but willing sidekick (meaning I didn’t actually leap across the stage yelling “Yay!!”, but acquiesced with composure.) We started making his “Buffalo Chicken (or Shrimp) Flatbread” when my phone went off. Maggie wanted me to go halfway across the convention center to let in our guest scheduled for the next hour, who reportedly was having trouble getting through security. Could I bring a ticket or a pass or something to back entrance C West? Folks, I had no tickets or passes. I shut off my mike, abandoned Dave, grabbed a list of scheduled guests and raced (this was a full-on sprint through the crowds, in my Cub emblazoned apron and 2 1/2 inch heeled clogs) to the security desk at C West. No guest in sight. I left the list and sprinted back to the stage, to the confusion of several exhibitors and visitors. I reappeared back onstage, and evidently was unable to hide my labored breathing or beet-red face, as the audience was much amused. Dave, I and his KSTP support staff finished the demo, with few other difficulties, and again, Dave was super kind and gracious. But Dave! Wear a helmet when you ride your Harley! We love you and want you to live a long and healthy life! And you make me feel like a wimp, wearing a helmet on my bicycle! Also, I loved the fiery sauce and creamy melted blue cheese that enveloped the chicken and celery on the flatbread. And the shrimp option for Lent? Genius.
The 6:00 chefs from The Lowry restaurant showed up before the 5:00 celebrity chefs, Beth Dooley and Bill Coy, who are food and wine writers for Mpls St. Paul magazine, but everyone got there, including Bruce and Dan, the duo who take over when it is time for me to go. Also, at that time, Eileen from Dole showed up and I had three things going on. I was debriefing with one of my bosses, Maureen; I needed to get a plate for the Lowry chefs, who had forgotten one for their demo; and I needed to see about getting shelves installed in our freezer for Eileen/Dole. This involved some more running around so I missed the Beth and Bill demo of Cheese and Chocolate Fondues, but when I returned to the stage, Bill was just finishing offering samples of two wines I can’t remember, a red and a white. I may have walked away from someone in mid-sentence to go get a sample. I don’t remember anything but thinking, “That. Want some.” And even though I hadn’t done anything more than help procure a few ingredients, Beth and Bill treated me as if I had been some huge supportive presence during their presentation. They were (I don’t think it was an act) excited to hear about Mr. Wordtabulous’ and my upcoming trip to wine country and San Francisco. Bill gave me his card so we could correspond about destinations. I want to hang out with them, although I am clearly too immature to do so. They would never run, waving, in front of an audience in a near panic, grinning manically. I am pretty sure.
As I left, Joan, the executive chef from The Lowry, was preparing to begin her demonstration of steak and oysters. Bruce and Dan, having set the stage, leisurely took their spots in the audience, prepared to relax and eat amazing food before the next demonstration by Mollie and Missy, from The Vikings Cheerleaders, which would be followed by another presentation from Beth Dooley, this time with Hilary, a Naked Grape Winemaker. I kind of love Bruce and Dan, but I can’t help wondering if they are possibly getting something over on me with this deal. I did tell them that in return for my taking the whole of Saturday evening I expected them to donate to my Tour de Cure ride, and they agreed, albeit with confusion. I have that effect on people.
Lordy, this is a long post. It was a long day. If you hung in there with me to the end, I love you! Tomorrow is a long one. I won’t get home until 11:00 or so. I know it will be an almost unbearable hardship, but you may have to wait to see how it goes until I have time to report back on Sunday. I am sorry. I, myself, am curious about what tomorrow will bring. How in the world will Chef Todd use his enormous cuts of meat and his perishable lettuces? How will Eileen from Chiquita manage with her frozen and fresh fruits? Will anyone come to yell at me to no avail? These questions and more will be answered…but not today.
You have two days left to come find me at the 2012 Minneapolis Home & Garden kitchen stage! Mention Wordtabulous and I will ditch my celebrity chef and give you a hug!
Related Post: Home & Garden Kitchen Stage, Day Two
Related Post: Working Girl, Fast Forward