Apparently, I Go Gaga for Celebrity Chefs

One of my new cookbooks. Lots of good stuff inside, including Bobby Flay's autograph.

My sister’s Christmas present to me this year was two tickets to Mohegan Sun Winefest—specifically, to Winefest on the day that a number of Food Network stars were scheduled to give demonstrations and sign cookbooks.

Now, I’m happy to admit that I watch the Food Network all the time. I love to cook and learn new recipes. And, yes, I also love to watch chefs build 7-foot-tall cakes that come crashing down in the heat of competition. I’m even happy to occasionally attempt a competition myself. What I didn’t know about yours truly until this past weekend at Winefest, though, is that I’m also a huge fan of celebrity chefs themselves. I apparently get as excited in their presence as Los Angeles tourists do when Brad Pitt saunters by.

I first realized that I had a problem when I arrived at the table of cookbooks for sale. I immediately bought three—for the primary purpose of having them autographed later that day. I then, at regular intervals throughout the afternoon, abandoned the all-you-can-drink wine tasting area for the stand-in-line-and-get-a-signature area. I felt positively drunk on life as Bobby Flay, Robert Irvine, and Mary Ann Esposito (of PBS fame) all gave me their John Hancocks. I even managed to make Flay and Irvine laugh by asking them about another celebrity chef, my all-time favorite, Anne Burrell.

The moment when I knew for sure that I am some kind of junkie came as I was leaving the autograph line with Robert Irvine’s “Nice smile, Kim!” forever emblazoned in black ink on the inside cover of his cookbook. I still had it in my hand as I turned to see another Food Network star nearby.

“There’s Iron Chef Marc Forgione, right there!” I shouted pretty much directly into my friend’s ear.

She looked at me as if I were her teenage daughter screaming about Justin Bieber.

So there you have it. I’m a borderline celebrity chef groupie. And here I thought I was just a fan of home cooking and great recipes. Go figure.

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