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.