I was nervous. The kind of anxiety that puts the “butterflies in your stomach” to shame. This was more like a hundred hummingbirds on crack fluttering about in the pit of my tummy. The significance of the event in no way justified the feeling. I was completely overreacting to the fact that Tyler Florence and Michael Chiarello would be cooking us dinner tonight. It wasn’t as if Bradgelina invited us to a private dinner where Shilo and Pax would be baking us chocolate chip cookies for dessert. But, there was something about meeting leaders in my field that made me want to vomit, which would have been a significant waste of their exquisitely cooked meal.
We were invited to a demo cooking event at NapaStyle in Yountville where Michael Chiarello would be assisting Tyler Florence in demonstrating a recipe from his new cookbook, Family Meal. I was never so grateful to be greeted at the event by a glass of Florence’s, not yet released, Cabernet Sauvignon. Aaah…we have just downgraded to butterflies. We took a seat, fourth-row center and munched on complimentary salumi as we waited.
Tyler nonchalantly entered, ignoring the flashes from the dozens of cameras. For the first half hour he took us on a whirlwind journey of his life, ending with where he is today. He could have stopped there and I think everyone would have been satisfied, but not only had we come to get a glimpse of this pretty boy in person, we wanted to see him cook. He eloquently taught us how to make Seared Salmon and Brussel Sprouts with Yukon Chips. Midway through the demo, Michael Chiarello entered saying, “Hey, what are you doing in my kitchen?” From there on, it was a humorous bantering between chefs that was more entertaining than the actual dish they were cooking. We stayed after the demo for the meet & greet that followed hoping for the perfect photo op as proof that I had actually been there.
As if this wasn’t enough excitement for me, we all headed across the way to Michael Chiarello’s restaurant Bottega where the two celebrity chefs would be cooking a prix fixe meal for all that was in attendance. Needless to say, dinner was a fabulous treat, only to be followed up by the handsome pair showing up table side to see how they had done. I was starstruck and speechless, like a silly teenager who had just run into Justin Bieber. Oh…why hadn’t I prepared something charming and witty to say? Why hadn’t I complimented their cooking techniques or at least how good-looking the duo was? Why? Why? Why?