Friday, April 24, 2009

MCES Part 1-The Stalking of Tyler Florence

I have FINALLY received pictures from my mom of the cooking show in Atlanta. The anticipation nearly killed me (don't worry, I snagged a few off Facebook so I could at least change my profile pic and share my new found stalking-tendencies with the world).

Meanwhile, having to rely on someone to mail me pictures for my blog confirmed my decision to use birthday money for a new digital camera. I explained to Husband (in my best "Disney" voice, as he likes to call it) that to be a serious food blogger I simply HAD to have great pictures. So we ventured out to Best Buy where I spent a good hour taking random pictures with every camera in the department. The sales people loved me. I came home with a Canon Powershot and have since then been strutting around our condo saying things like, "Make every shot a Powershot" a la Maria Sharapova. But I digress...

I have three words for you. I am crazy. Going to this cooking show confirmed it. Here's a rundown of my adventures in Atlanta with my fabulous mother.

We arrived at the Marriott on Friday evening with just enough time to daydream about meeting famous people and then it was time to hit the hay (needed plenty of rest for our first day). By the way, I'm usually not this celeb-crazy. Really, I swear.

Anyway, we were planning on meeting my former boss/entertaining extraordinaire Martie Duncan ( Saturday morning to help her get set for her first show. We're winding our way through the convention center when who do we stumble upon, but Tyler Floren
ce (finishing up his first show in the Celebrity Theatre). I smiled. He smiled. I swooned. Mom caught me. I recovered (and immediately tweeted about it) and we continued.

The MCES basically had three parts to it--the exhibits (food and entertaining vendors), the workshops (mostly local chefs and restaurants) and the Celebrity Live Theatre (along with book signings and VIP events). Martie's workshop on parties/entertaining was a huge hit. The theme was a beach party, and her presentation was absolutely spectacular. The audience loved it, and I could tell they were pumped about her awesome ideas. Check out her blog for a full rundown and photo gallery.

Thanks to Martie, Mom and I were able to attend Tyler's second Celebrity Theatre show. We had killer seats (2nd row) so we could gawk appropriately. You can't really tell in the image to the right because it's blurry, but he was looking straight at us. =)

Tyler was an absolute rock-star--funny, friendly and informative. Oh, and he clearly knows a thing or two about cooking. And did I mention he's dreamy? He cooked three incredible dishes--Chicken Marsala, Shrimp Scampi and Lamb T-Bone Steaks with Lemon Mashed Potatoes. We got to taste a little bit of the marsala and it was out of this world. We also learned that you should NEVER substitute dried herbs for fresh, Colorado lamb is just as tasty as New Zealand lamb and you should only think about buying expensive olive oil if you are using it as a finisher (such as on a mozzarella salad), but pretty much any kind of olive oil is fine for cooking. We were on cloud nine as we headed back to prepare for Martie's second workshop.

A few minutes into her show, Caroline (Martie's awesome assistant/artist/whatever you need her to be) starts waving frantically to me from across the stage. I run around the back curtain wond
ering what we had forgotten. And I stop dead. Because Tyler Florence is 5 feet away autographing aprons for the volunteer culinary students. I shamelessly jump in line and then realize that I don't have anything for him to I dash to my purse and pull out my day planner (no, that is not a joke). Finally, it's my turn. Our exchange goes something like this:

Tyler Florence (sticks out his hand and smiles charmingly): Hi, how are you?
Me (looks down, blushes, and thrusts day planner into his hand): This is all I have!

TF (looks at me curiously): Ok.

Me: I mean, to sign. Hi, I'm Courtney (we shake hands).
I loved yo
ur show.
TF: Thank you.
Me: It's actually my birthday tomorrow (a kid in Tyler's show told him it was his birthday and he was rewarded with the yummy-looking lamb chops). So uh, you're my birthday present! (wink-wink).
TF (laughs awkwardly): Oh, Happy Birthday!
TF signs both day planner and my official MCES name badge, and hands it back to me. Just smiling away. Dreamily.
Me (cursing myself for being an idiot): Thanks!

We smile for a picture. I walk away. And then it dawns on me...I just accidentally hit on Tyler Florence. Not exactly how I pictured that going....

Eventually I recovered (but not before tweeting about it and telling the embarrassing tale to my dad, sister, Husband and anyone else I could get in touch with) and moved on to Part Deux of the weekend. Stay tuned!