When I started posting videos on Youtube a few years ago I never thought it could have brought me this far… I just got back from a very intense three-days-food-marathon in Miami, where Debi and I attended the South Beach Wine and Food Festival for the very first time; it was the Oscars of Food, and everybody was there! It was a non stop kermess of flavors and laughs, attendance was at its best, and the perfect weather created the optimal conditions for the festival to unfold; Parties on the Beach, Burger Bashes, Cooking Demos and so much more.
I Was Scared!
As a professional musician I never feared the stage or the spotlight, and with Debi on my side I usually feel pretty confident about myself, no matter what. This time though it felt different; I had to talk, I had to explain, I had to entertain and involve my audience in a way I’ve never done before… using food instead of my drums. Also my bosses were there, you know I kind of like my new job, and really would like to keep it for the years to come; the pressure was on.Then we stepped on stage, we popped a bottle of wine and toasted our very first Cooking Demo ever with a full house of fans that started clapping and cheering; I finally relaxed! The presentation was a success, we got to prepare a few recipes to create the perfect Extra Virgin Lunch Menu, we got to talk with our fans and answer a bunch of questions and after we were done we stepped into the crowd to thank and cheer the moment! It was beautiful and I sucked it all in.
On Saturday night Debi and I took part in “The Best Thing I Ever Ate at The Beach” event: over 20 chefs presented their favorite beach recipe from a restaurant of their choice and entertained a crowd of 2400 people; we were asked to prepare our recipe for at least half the number of attendees. I got to spend the morning working in the immense two-floor kitchen of the Ritz Carlton Hotel and shared the counter with Duff Goldman from Ace of Cakes and a small army of FIU Culinary Students that were assisting us in our task. Debi and I picked Joe’s Stone Crabs from Miami as our favorite bite to enjoy on the beach, and we thought of “Tuscanizing” it by pairing it with a simple earthy Farro Salad… hence, on Saturday morning I got to cook 80 lbs of Farro, and along with all the girls from FIU we chopped close to 100 lbs of vegetables… I also got to cook in an oven that was almost the size of my pick up truck, it shook left and right as if it was possessed, roaring to get to temperature.
We had a lot of fun and I enjoyed immensely sharing the stage with my wife, we are so lucky to be able to live this incredible experience together, this all for sure will make for great senile conversations one day!
I would like to thank so much Lee Shrager and his staff for organizing such a successful festival, I hope we can work together again real soon. Also a big shout-out to all the girls from FIU and the culinary staff that helped me a lot through-out the weekend, making it all possible for me, THANK YOU!
Some personal highlights from the SoBe Festival:
– In the kitchens on the Ritz Carlton Hotel Duff Goldman shared with me one of his secrets: “If it tastes like shit just add Corn and Bacon”.
– I got to dance with Debi, which is something we rarely do… out of our kitchen
– Emeril squeezed my elbow and pulled me over: “I like what you are doing!”… and he left me standing, paralyzed!