Thursday, July 02, 2009

why I am not cooking with bobby flay


Last month I had a big chance to meet Bobby Flay.

It started like this. My Twitter "following"/"follower" list of people is alarmingly short, and I wanted to build my network. Ashton Kutcher and Shaq didn't feel quite right - no personal connection. Jack Johnson: no Twitter. George Clooney: couldn't tell if it was the real deal. Bobby Flay: "Soft shell crab season is open at Mesa Grill NY. Tonight with red chile-cilantro sauce and they're crispy!" SCORE.

And previously, a tweet on April 29...
"Win a chance to cook with me at". Win a contest to meet Bobby Flay?!

The rest of the story goes like this. Should I do it? Should I not do it? Or should I? On Saturday evening I said to Cowboy, I'm gonna do it. I went to Berkeley Bowl for fresh blackberries, sweet red onions, halibut, hazelnuts, and a bottle of Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay (ok - I picked that up at Safeway on my way home). Columbia Crest was the sponsor, and the theme was Washington state ingredients (i.e. FLAYvors).

I finished my original creation just after 10:30pm - a pecan crusted halibut fillet with braised fennel and sweet red onion served with a blackberry-shallot wine reduction. The sauce was a bit unusual-tasting, so I ended up juicing a whole lemon into it, and tossed in the zest as well. The fillet fell apart in the pan, but I salvaged a large enough piece to make a pretty plate for the camera.

I put on a dress and re-did my make-up.
I went to the contest's website - only two videos entered so far! And neither particularly impressive. I poured myself a glass of Chardonnay. Fruit-less, wet cardboard notes - corked (no wonder my sauce was so awful to work with!). Then Cowboy filmed 12 takes of me enthusiastically describing my dish to Bobby Flay, and we hungrily ate our cold dinner. I realized I had neglected to put any type of chilies in the dish...that was going to work against me.

When I woke up the next day I uploaded all my videos and watched them through, wishing I could just look normal and comfortable on camera. I tidied up my jumbled recipe notes, and I went online to enter my video.

Click - "Enter Contest".

Contest is void for residents of California, Tennessee, Utah, Puerto Rico, U.S. territories, possessions and commonwealths, and where restricted or prohibited by law."

WHAT?! California? Why?! California is the biggest wine-drinking foodie state in the whole country!!

Add then I remembered the agony of being a wine marketer. Any promotional offering used by a wine company in the state of CA cannot be worth more than $1 to the consumer (hence the hokey things you often see attached to the neck of wine bottles at the grocery store). California Alcoholic Beverage Control Act Section 160.

The average retail value of "the opportunity to cook with Bobby Flay" was $5,764.95. (No!!)

The most embarrassing thing about all of this is, yes, I did work for over two years at a wine company in the Marketing department. Yes, I did sit down on multiple occasions with our VP Legal Affairs to discuss what can and cannot be done in various states, and I whined about the strict codes in California.

I guess I just forgot.

So, I am not going to be cooking with Bobby Flay. And, no. I don't think he'll be following me on Twitter anytime soon, either.