I’m fortunate to have a television feature that appears weekly and I have a lot of fun doing it. I enjoy teaching others how to cook good food whether it’s in person or impersonally.
One of the most frequent questions I get is, “Will your show ever make it to Food Network?”
While I’m envious of the TV chefs who get 30 minutes to make three- and four-course meals, my two-minutes (the tastiest two minutes in television, mind you) is quite sufficient.
I did, however, make it to the Food Network about 10 years ago – not as the star of a show, but as a contestant on a short-lived game show called “Pressure Cooker.” It was a pretty hokey show, too, replete with buzzers and other sound effects, as well as an emcee with a plastered-on smile and cheeriness to spare.
To qualify for this show, I had to take a 100-question written test that included identifying 12 different shapes of pasta. I had to participate in a roundtable discussion about food trivia, knowing that the six or eight of us in the room were being evaluated through one-way glass. And then came the wait – six weeks of waiting to hear whether or not I had been accepted as a contestant.
But as you already know, I was chosen to appear on the show. I went to the studio early in the morning, as instructed, even though my episode was not due to be taped until mid-afternoon. In our “holding room,” were the contestants from all of the episodes to be taped that day. We couldn’t actually watch, but we did get to see the victorious ones come back to collect their things and report about their winnings.
The first guy got an all-expenses paid trip for two to Bermuda. The second guy got a trip for two to Jamaica. The third guy got a trip, as did the fourth. I was in the fifth round and I was pretty pumped, thinking that there was the possibility that I could win a pretty snazzy trip to some tropical isle and be on the Food Network.
Round One: Three of us stand at our podiums. Genial Emcee asks food trivia questions. Buzz in and answer correctly and you win a token that represents breakfast, lunch or dinner. The first two to collect all three qualify for the next round.
Round Two: I’m at a table with my opponent and Genial Emcee reveals a dessert that one of the Food Network stars has just baked. Taking turns, we taste the dessert and then have to name as many ingredients as we can. Three wrong answers and you’re out.
Round Three: OK. This is cool. I’ve made it to the finals. And now I’m playing for my grand prize. I have 60 seconds while Genial Emcee reads off lists of related food things. I have to name the one thing they all have in common. At the 57 second mark the bells and buzzers sound the smoke effects go wild. I’ve won! I’ve won!
Dinner for two; brunch for two; breakfast for two at restaurants in New York, all within a 20-block radius of where I lived.
And that was my brush with “greatness” on the Food Network.
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