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All posts for the month November, 2010

Chef Holli UgaldeHey everyone, I got a text from Chef Holli’s people.  Apparently while I was sleeping, it was revealed that Chef Holli won’t be given the position of head chef at the Savoy in London and that there was never was such a position.

She was nice enough to give me 30 minutes and give her side of the story.

How are you doing?

I’m doing great. I’ve been working really hard to develop a whole new set of recipes for the B Ocean Fort Lauderdale. I’m also taking some time off the for the holidays, baking and making some cool cranberry cocktails.

Sounds good. So, you’ve been getting a lot of time in the press in the last few days about not getting the head chef job at the Savoy. Were you notified you wouldn’t be going?

I now know that I am not going to London at all. I’m disappointed, but even worse, my son was really disappointed. He was looking through books picking out castles.

Still, everything is coming out now. I’m putting all of the pieces together to try and figure out what happened. For instance, the head chef position seems to never have been open. I recently found out though reading articles quoting Chef Ramsay’s people that Chef Andy Cook, the current head chef, was hired before the finale was ever aired, so it seems that the position was never available.

It’s really disappointing.

Interestingly I read an article where Chef Ramsay is quoted as saying that the producers of the show were responsible for misrepresenting the prize to the public. I am really just trying to figure out what happened.

Were you in London?

Yes, I was in London, but I was there on other business. I tried to contact Chef Ramsay so that I could get a tour, but I was unable to speak with him or see the Savoy.

Do you think you’ll talk to Gordon Ramsay?

Well, I talked to Chef Ramsay two years ago and then I taped George Lopez with him. That’s it. Oh, wait, I did see him for the taping of the 100th Episode.

Is that normal?

Honestly, from what I hear, that is normal. Nobody talks to him, especially now that he has so much going on back in the UK.

Do you think you’ll hear from Gordon Ramsay?

I don’t. Even if I had gone to the Savoy, I don’t think I would have seen him except for opening night and I if there was a big press event. It is my understanding that Chef Ramsay is not present all that often at his restaurants, because he has so many shows and commitments outside the kitchen. At least that’s what I think.

If he did call, would you work for him?

At this point, no. I’m excited about doing my own thing now. I’ve started by designing a signature menu for B Ocean Fort Lauderdale. I plan to be working with B Hotels and Resorts over the next few years and they have given me the opportunity to do some really creative and interesting things with their menu. You’ll be seeing plenty of me in the future.

How do you feel about the media coverage?

One thing that was strange was that in the London Mirror, they said I was furious. I am not a furious person. I always look on the bright side. Now, I can do my own thing and branch away from the classics.

Did you say “Hell’s Kitchen cheated you?”

I never said that. Still, all of these people are picking up on it and are upset about it. Honestly I am just excited to be in a place where I can be creative with my food.

I’m kind of bothered. I wanted my opening night table. [laughs] Okay, on a positive note, what are you doing for the holidays?

I’m hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. I am going to do a turkey with all these crazy sauces.

Sounds good. I’ll just fly out and meet you! Thanks a lot, Chef.

Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love… Anywhere (and Everywhere)

Eat, Pray, Love is the about-to-be-released film where Julia Roberts portrays Liz Gilbert, a woman who has recently suffered a long, arduous divorce.  In an effort to overcome her past and chart a new direction in her life, she travels around the world, trying new things, throwing out conventional wisdom, and generally living a fantasy life of freedom, fun, and food.

The movie centers around her (mis)adventures as she sheds her old self, gains new perspective, and eats a lot of carbs.  (Delicious, delicious carbs.)  Still, like the book of the same name, Eat, Pray, Love offers a tantalizingly provocative alternative to the humdrum of existence that so many of us feel as we live our lives chasing the American dream.

Now, let’s face it, by any other name Eat, Pray, Love is a chick flick.  Because of the culinary nature of its title, it is probably one I would have gotten around to seeing.  (I mean, I am the guy who cried during No Reservations, but that was different… I had something in my eye… really.)  Besides, I have willingly seen enough Katherine Heigl moves that I should have no issue watching Julia Roberts on a screen since she is both beautiful and talented (zing!).  Still, Eat, Pray, Love got bumped up on the priority list because I am going to be a compensated panelist on Monday (read about the Eat, Pray, Love Twitter party on TravelingMom.com, you may recognize the photo since I swiped it from there…)  However, because I am a panelist for the movie, it also means I had to watch it with a critical eye, from which I drew a very strong conclusion: the message behind Eat, Pray, Love is both very positive, but potentially destructive.

Let’s Start with the Good in Eat, Pray, Love

Ultimately, most people are going to come to a point where they look at their lives and feel like they are, at best, stuck in a rut and, at worst, in a bad place.  Sometimes these feelings can be chalked up to a stressful week, the holidays, the natural ebb and flow that is part of any relationship, a major life event, etc., but the feelings pass.  Other times, these feelings stem from a real need for the person to change.

The positive message behind Eat, Pray, Love is that you can change.  The movie brings with it a sense of empowerment that comes from knowing that you can break free of your rut.

That’s good.  The worst feeling in the world is hopelessness.

The Less Than Good Part In Eat, Pray, Love

I, personally, have two reservations about Ms. Gilbert’s method for breaking out of her rut.  The first is a pair of people sleeping two rooms over.  The second is a whole lot of things which aren’t currently sleeping in my bank account.

Sadly, a total fugue is not a possibility for me either fiscally or relationshipwise.  If I disappeared for a year, I would come back to a foreclosed home and my own painful divorce.  I find neither of these outcomes particularly desirable, even though Mrs. WellDone has a cold right now and is a bit on the extremely cranky side.

Eat, Pray, Love The Gudiebook, Not the Map

However, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.  The true message behind Eat, Pray, Love isn’t to fly to India, it’s to find yourself.  That is something that can happen anywhere and everywhere.

Although, one place where Ms. Gilbert got it right was that sometimes you have to get away.  You can’t break out of your rut without change.

How do you break away?  Ms. Gilbert got that right, too.  A good way is travel.

Take a Trip Somewhere Fun, Not the Poor House

Now, travel normally brings to mind Paris, Rome, London… places far away and prohibitively expensive.  Shelve that notion right now.  Travel doesn’t have to be jet setting to San Tropez, it can be a drive to some place new.  It can be catching a Southwest fare to some place they fly for $99 each way (seriously, get their little ding! app…) or it can be trying out one of the deals on TravelingMoms.com.  Besides, the closer you stay to home, the less chance you will run into body scans, screaming babys, passports, or custom clerks, all of which are fantastic ways to keep you firmly anchored in your stress and unable to find the you that you want.

So try this, talk it over with the people in your life and let them know that travel and breaking away from the old is important to you.  Then plan a series of several day trips (3 is good, more is better) and schedule them as near to each other as you can.  Mix those adventures by checking off a few things on your list of local places you’ve always wanted to see or do.

The Most Important Thing is the Change in You

Sure, it won’t be the totally immersive trip into sheer freedom Liz Gilbert got, but it’s pretty close.  And if you can, keep a journal or make some notes along the way.  I bet just getting away will be the remedy to either break you out of the funk or give you the perspective to figure out what to do next.

Also, no matter what you decide to do, push the envelope.  Try new things: new foods, new drinks, bungie jumping, making out in the backseat of a car, etc.  Ultimately, it is doing something fresh and new that changes you, not where you do it.

Lastly, eat lots of carbs.  I know Julia is eating ice cream on the cover of the movie, but I gotta tell you there’s something about pasta that’s good for the soul.  Meatballs, too.

Really lastly, come to the Twitter party on Nov. 22, 9-10 pm ET (8-9 pm CT; 7-8 pm MT; 6-7 pm PT).  Look for the hashtags #TMOM #EPLDVD or use TweetGrid: http://bit.ly/aZEx2N

** 1 WEEK **

This is your one week warning until Turkey Day!

In case you are wondering, I have done several articles for various magazines on the subject of America’s favorite time to pig out.  Here are a few:

Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey on BigBlendMagazine
5 Things to Do with Sweet Potatoes on FabulousFoods.com
5 Things to Do with Cranberries
on FabulousFoods.com

And for dessert:

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake on FabulousFoods.com

To set the scene, as I write this post, I am currently Jasper’s full.

What is Jasper’s full?  Good question.

As I have been blogging, I have come to realize there are four levels of fullness.

Level of fullness 1: Full.  You know, when you can’t eat another bite.  That kind of full.
Level of fullness 2: Uncomfortably full.  Yes, you couldn’t eat another bite because you are full…but yet somehow you did.  Now, you’ve now eaten so much you are physically uncomfortable and popping buttons.
Level of fullness 3: Jasper’s full.  This is how full I get every time I go to Jasper’s.  It’s basically Uncomfortably full + 2 canoli.  At this stage of full, the pain is so intense that my body is releasing endorphins and it’s like I have a runner’s high, only it’s been brought on by the ton of food I’ve consumed.  At this level of full, I can do little else besides groan and find that one way of holding my body that doesn’t bring on blinding agony.  (I highly recommend head back, back arched and hands supporting addition weight in the midsection.  Write this down, you’ll thank me.)
Level of fullness 4: Beyond Jasper’s full.  This is a theoretical level of full that may only be reached the moment before the stomach explodes like in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life.  It is the point where I would have to admit the sheer agony of life has overwhelmed the intense joy of eating Jasper’s Italian food.  I’ve not been to level of full yet as there is nothing which can make me regret stuffing myself full of Jasper’s that I know of.

So yes, right now I am Jasper’s full.  And yes, I did go to Jasper’s for dinner.  But tonight, Jasper’s had help in stuffing me because I went straight from the Hen House Holiday Celebration to Jasper’s.  Which, as I have come to realize was a mistake.

Why?

Because I was full from sampling.  There was so much to try at the Hen House Holiday Celebration, not to mention the wines and cheeses I was discussing during my pairing chat.  Sadly, I didn’t get to try everything at the celebration since I was getting prepped for my showcase, but the highlights of Day 1 had to be

1.  The Butoni 4 Cheese Pasta…Chef Jasper used it in a demo and I couldn’t stop eating the left overs

2.  Palermo’s Biscuits and Gravy Pizza…Hard on the arteries, amazing in the mouth.

3.  Roth Kase’s Smoked Bleu Cheese… so earthy, but with amazing smoky hints.  So good.

I also met two amazing individuals, one from Boulevard Beer and the other from Banfi wines.  Both gentlemen have wine or beer for sampling at the Holiday Celebration and both were experts during the showcase.  The two of them knew so much about Boulevard beer and Concha Y Toro wines that I really salute them.  And I hope everyone gets a chance to try their stuff at the celebration.