There’s no business like show business and sometimes that includes appearing at county fairs.
Three shows a day for a couple of days, cooking live (as opposed to my video-taped gigs where the editing room frequently saves my bacon, so to speak).
At this particular fair there were no big-name bands, no country crooners, no music revival groups. No – just the diving dogs, the racing pigs – and me. Yessirree – show business is my life.
If you’ve ever watched chefs cook live on television you’ve probably witnessed the bizarre phenomenon of people applauding for the addition of garlic or cayenne pepper to a recipe. I’ve never really understood that.
I love garlic as much as the next guy and I use it in many of my recipes. But applauding for it? Well, applaud they did and I must confess, it’s addictive. I then began to wonder: What else can I do to elicit more applause?
When you’re a so-called “celebrity chef,” there are only two kinds of people you encounter: People who know who you are and people who haven’t a clue.
So as much as I enjoyed getting applause for adding garlic to one of the three pans I had going, there were those who attended the fair who thought I was just another food vendor and they wanted to know what kind of cold beer I had for sale.
And then there was this: A little girl – probably no more than nine or 10 years old – saw one of my demonstrations and then saw me having lunch that I purchased from one of the food concessions. So she asked a very legitimate question: “If you’re a chef, how come you didn’t make your own lunch?”
I have a stock answer, because it’s not the first time I’ve been asked. Quite honestly, one of my favorite things is when someone else cooks for me. But I digress. Back to the fair.
This is what I learned: Some people came to see me cook – my foodie groupies. Some came out of curiosity – about a guy they sometimes see on TV. Some were there because there was an available chair (walking a fair can be exhausting). And some came because they thought there would be free food.
But the county health department foiled their plan. One of my other favorite things – the food police – said you can look but you can’t taste.
Here’s one of the recipes I demonstrated:
Pan-Seared Glazed Pork Chops
4 double-cut boneless pork loin chops
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 pinch cayenne
Combine all glaze ingredients in a bowl; mix thoroughly and set aside. Season pork chops with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in heav-bottomed skillet over medium high heat until smoking.
Add pork to skillet and cook until well browned, four to six minutes. Turn chops and cook four to six minutes longer until the center of the meat registers 140 degrees on an instant read thermometer then transfer to a plate and pour off any oil in skillet. Tent with foil while the meat rests.
Add glaze ingredients to skillet and reduce until syrupy and the color of dark caramel.
Return chops to the skillet and turn in the glaze to coat.
Plate the chops and pour additional glaze over each chop.
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