Bobby Flay answering a question from the audience during his second Sunday cooking demo in Atlanta.
So far, 2010 has been a year for celebrity chef cooking demonstrations.
My sister, Dorothy, is working in Djibouti, and she gets bored. When she's bored, she goes online. When she goes online, she buys things. And because she's in Djibouti, she makes, as Julia Louis-Dreyfus says in those commercials, "a boatload of money." Not Hollywood money, but Civil Service working overseas money.
So she bought us tickets to the Charleston Wine + Food Festival. In March, my youngest sister Patty, our mother and I drove over to Charleston and watched Tyler Florence cook.
Sunday, she bought us tickets to the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show in Atlanta's Cobb Galleria to see Bobby Flay cook. This time, it was my brother, Fred, and his wife Cheryl, my sister, Nancy and our mother and I.
I've been watching both chefs on TV for years. I liked Florence immediately. Flay, not so much. The first time I ever saw him was on the original Japanese "Iron Chef." I thought he was an arrogant SOB. It wasn't until he started "Throwdown" that I really started to like the guy. It's probably because of Stephanie Banyas and Miriam Garron. These two women assist him in the Food Network test kitchen and travel with him, helping him with the challenges. And they don't cut him any slack. It cracks me up to see him bullied by these two women.
A few years ago, Dorothy, our mother and I went to the Taste of Atlanta. We saw Roy Yamaguchi, who had just opened his restaurant in Atlanta, and Emeril Lagasse, who had also opened a restaurant in Atlanta. We also saw Marvin Woods. Dorothy has a special relationships with Woods. It seems every time he was in Charleston, she happened to be at the bookstore or department store. So she would talk to him. When she saw him Atlanta, he signed and apron and gave it to her. He wrote, "Thank you for following me to Atlanta." He was doing a show on Turner South called "Home Plate." I did a phone interview with him, and told him that my sister was "stalking" him and that we were thinking that he was about to issue a restraining order. He started laughing and said he was just happy to have fans like Dorothy.
Years and years ago, Patty and I were at a Macy's in Atlanta and in the stores "Cellar," Martin Yan was doing a cooking demo. I can't even remember why we were there, but we walked in and he was there, so we sat down and watched.
All these celebrity chefs have one thing in common. What you see on television is what you get in person. At least what they're doing onstage during a cooking demonstration. They're as entertaining and personable in person as they are on TV.
I wonder who's next?
Mom, Tyler Florence and Patty in Charleston in March.
Bobby Flay with his finished rib eye steak that he cooked during his demo Sunday in Atlanta.