Tag Archives: Yigit Pura

Home & Garden Kitchen Stage, Day 2

I dragged my sleepy rear end out of bed this morning and rolled on back to the Minneapolis Convention Center (with one quick stop at Village Market for the angel food cake loaves Cub didn’t carry and the item my brain collapsed on last night: bean dip. I woke up at 2 a.m. thinking ohhh, BEAN DIP. I know exactly where that is. Duh.) Leah McLean, KSTP anchor, was first up to share her Fiesta Chicken. When she wasn’t there at her presentation time, I started to get worried. The audience was full, because the weather was fine and it was Senior Citizen Day. Generally speaking, seniors enjoy the slower pace of the weekday crowds and the first one hundred get gift bags. Also, they LOVE our local news personalities (as do we all.) So when Leah wasn’t there right away, but the chairs were full, I was a little concerned there might be a geriatric riot. What would THAT look like, I wondered. Fortunately, Leah showed up, only a bit flustered over some parking hassles that had delayed her. The audience glowed with delight, and Leah went to work like the pro she is, needing minimal assistance. She shared the news that she is pregnant (congratulations, Leah!) and told stories about work and family while cooking up a pasta dish with chicken, bell pepper and onion in a white sauce. I helped serve until it was all gone, and so I can’t tell you how it tasted, but it smelled deliciously of cumin, garlic and a hint of cayenne.

I began a frantic clean up that wasn’t quite done when the next presenters, Bobby Jensen and Belinda Jensen of KARE 11 showed up. Fortunately I had most of the set up organized and the counter cleared off, so the unwashed dishes remained hidden in the sink (thank heavens there were no cameras trained on that spot, as there are on the cooktop and prep counter.) Belinda, a meteorologist, also does gardening segments with Bobby, and although they have the same last name, they are not related in any way. They bantered like brother and sister to the delight of the crowd, who had questions about them and about gardening. For a cooking demo, there were a lot of questions about parasitic infection. I got to come to the rescue when from backstage I heard Belinda say, “You didn’t just cut yourself, did you?” In seconds I was onstage, band-aids in hand, patching up Bobby’s finger. Their roasted corn and orzo salad with tomatoes, feta and arugula looked wonderful, but once again the crowd beat me to it.

Another clean up, and then Yigit Pura was back, this time with Panna Cotta topped with a grapefruit juice and Campari gelee and grapefruit supremes. The panna cotta was a creamy base flavored with vanilla bean and citrus zest and thickened with gelatin sheets, which I must try because they look like a lot of fun. The next layer was citrus juices and Campari thickened with more gelatin leaves dissolved in a simple syrup, which was added after the base had gelled. We had done these steps the day before, so Yigit’s presentation was about the nature and, in the case of the vanilla bean, the history of the various ingredients, followed by a demo of making grapefruit supremes, which is what it is called when you peel the fruit with a knife and slice the segments out of their membranes, resulting in glistening, gorgeous crescents. Yigit popped a few of these on top, and I finally got to taste one. This was grown-up deliciousness of sweet and tart and creamy and juicy; kids, go eat your pudding cups.

Chef Carl Littlejohn from Redrossa followed, assisted by Ryan. Redrossa is an Italian place in Bloomington, near the Mall of America.  Since I wasn’t needed and had some prep work backstage, I missed most of his presentation, but the air was filled with the staggeringly heady scent of basil, and I made it out front in time to help distribute his samples of bruschetta over fresh mozzarella on toasted ciabatta slices, and drizzed with a balsamic reduction. So yummy, and Carl had enough for me to snag a couple extra for my healthy lunch. I missed out on his chocolate cake layered with a creamy chocolate filling and topped with what looked like ganache. So it looked worthy of its reputation as a favored dish at Redrossa. I will most certainly need to try it when we go there. Carl and Ryan did almost all of their own clean up (thank you, guys!) so I only had to do a few dishes left over from Yigit’s presentation as I enjoyed my bruschetta.

Our next presenter was Chef Colin Murray, whose day job is at the restaurant Seven, but who at night turns his passion for food in a different direction: dog treats. He owns Barkley’s Bistro, where healthy and balanced dog treats are created. He used vegetable stock, steamed green beans, parsnips, sweet potato, golden flax seed and oats (I might be missing a few things here) to make a thick dough which is then baked. He invited the audience to try them and I did. I decided f you brushed it with olive oil and sprinkled it with salt, it would make a decent cracker. Colin’s love for animals and enthusiasm for nutrition was evident in his presentation, and he was another one great for taking over his own clean up. He’ll be presenting again on Sunday, and has a booth at the Show, if any of you out there make it.

My last assignment for the day, before turning the stage over to Bruce and Dan (seriously guys? it takes TWO of you to do the same job I did ALL DAY LONG?) was to assist Natalie Davis, aka Miss Minnesota, with her Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Protein Smoothie. Natalie is a knockout, unsurprisingly, and she was in full-on regalia with tiara, cocktail dress and sash, and what I like to call Hollywood shoes, but she is also a standout student, slated to graduate from St. Olaf in a few months with a degree in Chemistry. For her presentation, I put on a microphone so I could give her a hand while she prepared the smoothie and we could talk and better explore some of the things she wanted to share with the audience, like the Miss America scholarship program, her platform of autism awareness (she’ll be at the Steps of Hope fund and awareness raising walk at Ridgedale Center on Sunday morning,) and physical fitness.  Towards the end, as we were all snacking on smoothies that smelled and tasted a lot like a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup with a thin slice of banana on top, I got her attention by telling her that I had a serious question I needed to ask. She sounded just a bit apprehensive, but pageant veterans know a lot about facing the difficult interview questions so she was game. “Just where do stand on the issue of banana ripeness?” I asked. A pause, and then she laughed and surprised me by saying, “I have always wanted someone to ask me that question!” It turns out that on what she calls the green to brown spectrum of banana ripeness, she prefers them slightly less than fully golden, but before any brown appears. She asked where I stood and I replied that I enjoy a more ripened banana, say about 60% of the way on the journey from green to brown. She announced we would be perfect roommates because we would never argue about the bananas to which I countered, “Unless you ate them all before they got to 60%, because then there would be trouble.” She was great fun to work with and I think she had a good time, too.

So I was in a pretty good mood at the end of the day. I got a final hug from Yigit. I finally got to walk around the show for a few minutes and enjoy the beautiful gardens and water features. I met Dave Dahl, who will be one of my chefs tomorrow, and I got a smile and a wave from Bobby Jensen, who was still wearing his band-aid. I got a wave from a few familiar faces from the Kitchen Stage audience, too. I picked up my one grocery store item and arrived at home just a few minutes before the Bobby and Belinda footage from the Kitchen Stage was aired on KARE 11 news, and there I was in the background, doing something intently, for .5 seconds. Yep, I am feeling like pretty hot s*%t right now, and will probably continue to do so until I see the pictures Maggie took of me and Miss Minnesota standing together, because the comparison will not be flattering. I’ll just enjoy it while it lasts. So please, come out and join in the fun, and don’t forget to say hi when you do. I’ll be at the show 9am-5pm on Friday, 9am-10pm on Saturday, and 9am-5pm on Sunday.

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Working Girl: Fast Forward

Hi, my beloved blog friends! I miss you. I am tired. This is out of order for the Working Girls series, and I apologize, but there is an issue of timeliness. As you may have gathered from an earlier post, I am a working girl again and it has been a very long day. I love my new job!!! It is a beautiful combination of organization, randomness, creativity and problem solving. There are moments of amazing. Last week I addressed packages that went to Anderson Cooper, Rachael Ray, and Ellen DeGeneres. And Ellen DeGeneres called back. Well,  her producer did, wanting more information on the client of the marketing agency I now work for. I may give more details in future posts, if I get the sense you are interested, but there is a real thrill in addressing packages to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, among others. There is also the boring but soothing mundanity of repetitive express address label filling out, and the approximate one minute per package processing time at the Post Office (LOVE those people, BTW.) When you have 30 packages, that results in thirty minutes of life you spend with the very pleasant people at the USPS, which you will never spend with your children or collecting your thoughts. On the other hand: 30 Rockefeller Plaza and Ellen DeGeneres.

My agency also represents the Minneapolis Home & Garden Show, which is one of the biggest events of its kind in the nation. It runs today through Sunday, March 4th. We have over 700 exhibitors and some really kickass displays from what I’ve seen. I, as Admin Extraordinaire, am assigned to stage manage the Kitchen Stage. I spent most of this weather plagued morning setting up the full kitchen set with supplies for our chefs: restauranteurs and local TV, print and radio celebrity chefs. My colleagues Maggie and Ashley (REAL marketing associates with media spots to tend to later in the day,) carted in paper products, small appliances, pans, bakeware and utensils for all the chefs to use, and ingredients for our non-restauranteur, local celebrity volunteers to use.

We have one national Celebrity Chef in the lineup: Yigit Pura, winner of BRAVO’S Top Chef: Just Desserts. He could be my much younger brother; he is ADD, dark-haired and dark-eyed, a little naughty and knows his way around chocolate. He was my first chef of the day and because of the major ice and sleet storm last night, it was a slow start. But Yigit (pronounced Yeet) could not have been more charming. I introduced him (poorly) to the meager crowd. We made truffles together and he made this amazing Chocolate Cremeaux, which we served, drizzled with a floral lemon olive oil and sprinkled with Maldon flake salt, alongside a truffle. Heaven. He also helped me clean up, which was awesome because, chocolate? A huge freaking mess. My next chef was Sam (female) from Sawatdee, a Thai restaurant in Minneapolis. She made Red Chicken Curry and I was inspired. I am so making this. It was sweet and hot, and rich and delicious. It made me happy. She needed nothing from me but a little help serving up samples but I flatter myself that I was a notable audience question asker. After that came Vincent, chef of Vincent a Restaurant, also in Minneapolis. He is French, not terribly outgoing, but knowledgeable and super easy to work with. He made Scallops with Orange Sauce that made me sigh with pleasure. I announced him, got him a bowl and strainer for his demonstration, and helped him plate his wonderful samples. Keep in mind that these chefs are coming every hour, with 45 minutes of demonstration and 15 minutes of transition: one demo getting cleaned up and one getting prepped. There is a lot of furious dishwashing and countertop cleaning as well as new chef stage orientation going on in those fifteen minutes, but people have been fabulous so far. After Vincent, we had Beth Ingles, from Ellsworth Creamery in Wisconsin, accompanied by Des (Dez?) from KS95 radio, showing decadent uses of the Creamery’s butter, cheese and gift products. Beth served a variety of cheese curds (plain, cajun, ranch, etc.) and made Cheesy Rice Lasagna and Bacon Wrapped Cheese Curds. She needed no help from me except a little bit of plating for samples, and there was a lot going on backstage at the time, so I missed the bacon wrapped cheese curds, and if I had been more energetic at that point, I would have worked up some serious disappointment. I had arrived at 9am, after shopping for dishwashing supplies and an hour commute because of the crappy roads. I worked or suppported chefs (except for one bathroom stop and a coffee purchase) the entire time until 6pm, when I left for the grocery store, turning the stage over to my new friends Bruce and Dan.

There were five new recipes I had to shop for, that had come in late. I was elated, though tired, on the drive home. Once I got to the grocery store I was less elated. Three of the recipes needed avocados and three needed limes. Two needed mangoes. Two needed things the mega-store, Cub, didn’t carry. Several things were a little vague. I found nothing that matched the description 10 1/2 oz can bean dip. I got a 14 oz can of refried beans. I questioned the literal need of one recipe for 1 1/2 pounds of blueberries, mixed with other berries. I bought two 8 oz. containers of blueberries, some raspberries and strawberries and called it good. I had difficulty making quick decisions, so it all seemed very slow-motion and cumbersome. I wanted to do well, but there were some problematic calls. Dylan, who works a second job at Cub Foods, was a lifeline in the produce battle. I told him, inappropriately, that I wanted to take him home. I meant more as an adopted son, but I am not sure it played that way. I didn’t leave the store until 8pm. Just as I was checking out, Mr. Wordtabulous called. Where ARE you? I am on my way, my beloved, I told him. Well, not in so many words. But day one of the Minneapolis Home & Garden Show was done, and I was as ready as I was going to be for day two. Bring it, I say.

For those of you salivating at home, recipes will be available next week on the Minneapolis Home & Garden Show website, so be sure to check back. Let me know if you care to hear more. I am sure that more stories will be forthcoming over the next few days, and I will share them if you want! So let me know, and in the meantime, don’t work too hard!

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