I, along with my friend and a few other people, was assigned as an assistant. One of us in each kitchen. I hit the jackpot. I was assigned to work with Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, also known as The Hearty Boys. Just in case you aren't addicted to the Food Channel like I am, these guys were the winners of the first season of The Next Food Network Star.
Let me just start by saying that these guys are just so genuine, gracious, and nice. Oh, and the food they prepared was amazing. They made two appetizers for the crowd. I'd never eaten raw fish. Ever. Dan made Ahi Poke Rolls. For Steve, I tried it. And it was good. Really good. It was sweet and spicy and creamy and there was a little hint of salt. Really good. The other appetizer they served was a Chicken Satay Skewer. These were so good with a creamy peanut sauce and black sesame seeds and just a little green onion.
The crowd was equally wowed. Dan and Steve did a cooking demo of their two treats. And they left me alone at the station. I got to skewer and garnish the chicken and plate and garnish the Ahi. I know. I'm a dork. But here are these guys who are nationally known for their food, and they left me in charge of it! Good thing it was pretty foolproof. The crowd couldn't get enough of it.
They both humored me and smiled when we talked about baking and cooking. I left last night with two big hugs and an autographed cookbook. (Yes, another cookbook) Steve suggested that I start with the cocktails. I think I'll do just that. It's an amazing looking book. If you'd ever like to cook along, just let me know. Hearty Boys Monday anyone?
If you're in Chicago on a Sunday, go check out the brunch. The friend who volunteered with me and I are already planning our visit.