I was sitting right next to the man, and was almost blinded by all his 'bling' (yes, bling) - the Louis Vuitton "clutch" (complete with removable pen holder!), the giant Rolex, and the diamond cuff links. Amazing. Taking this all in, I think his stories about money (or "gold," as he fondly called it), women, partying and fame, went along with the outside image. He came off as pompous to me, but after a couple glasses of Prosecco, and a realization that we weren't going to be talking about food, I gave in, put on a smile, and nodded and laughed with his stories where appropriate.
After a couple lectures in class on celebrity chefs, Food Network entertainment and patrons' relationships with both, I was curious to hear his thoughts on the subject, and I think he referenced it enough (actually, enough that I'm writing my final take home exam on the subject for Anthro!). It's all about the money. TV is about entertainment, and cookbooks are coffee table books (or the new 'porn'); no one cooks from these mediums any more. While I know his stats are realistic (only about 2% cook recipes from Food Network shows), and that Food Network has to cater to demographics beyond 'foodies', I was still wishing for his belief in the medium beyond pure entertainment value, just a little, but I don't think it's there.
And while I feel like taking him to task now on his attitude, I still don't feel it was the right setting to open up any debates (especially since he would probably be the only one talking). And like other bloggers have rightly mentioned in their posts on the evening, he is what he is, and he's not changing or hiding it. However, I still felt he was putting on a show with all the name dropping going on - parties with Kevin Brauch, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali and Michael Symon... I'm not sure what to say. He's good at telling frat party stories (however exaggerated... or not?), with animated gestures included. It's obviously worked well for him, so there you go.
He commented on the obesity rates in North America, saying it was about portion size. While I agree with this, there are other issues here concerning class, history, food procurement and accessibility, and our food ways as a whole, that I don't feel he's taking into account (this is also one of those questions I thought I'd better not open up... it truly deserves many voices).
He dashed off local food, opting for 'national' selections, which disappointed me after he touched on how important it is to educate children on food. He talked a little about animals and ethics, although his example of an ethical, 'good life' treatment, was foie gras destined ducks/geese being raised on staged, shortened day and night cycles to increase their feeding times. Maybe it's just my veggie years still coming through, but is this really what he considers ethical?
His comments on the obesity subject though, the part on cooking with his kids - especially making cookies from scratch when they wanted 'a cookie' - and on wanting to level out the playing field as far as trades go (culinary students earn far less when coming out of school compared to other trades), provided such a contradiction to his - it's all about the money - attitude towards his day to day work around food, that it left me confused. Will he really do anything to help in these areas? I doubt it, but I hope I'm proven wrong.
I'm wondering if he would be different if it were a one-on-one interview? There's a teaser at this Tech Life Magazine link and he seems so much more thoughtful and considerate... he's into Neil Young and Miles Davis! So great! But none of this seemed to come through to me during our 'date'. (There will also be a video of the evening posted at that same link soon.) Isabelle of The Little Red Kitchen was heading back Wednesday to do a one on one interview for CBC, so I'm curious to see how that pans out.
All this being said, I'm glad I got to go and observe Adjey's thoughts on different subjects, even if I didn't get out there into the mix. Since I missed the latest Foodie Meet-up, I was happy to see lots of familiar faces, and to meet (even if only for a brief time), some new ones.
Thank you very much to Diane for putting the event together, and to the NAIT staff and students of the Hokanson School for Culinary Arts, for hosting such a lovely evening. We seriously got treated! It was definitely not an ordinary Tuesday!
I'll post some pictures of the food (from Adjey's newest book, Deconstructing the Dish, as prepared by NAIT's culinary students), although, unfortunately, I missed the Arctic Char dish. But I'll list bloggers below who have posted on the night, with great pictures of the food, table, bloggers and the man himself!
Shrimp with bread stuffing, 'kick-ass' tartar sauce and wilted chicory
I'm not a shrimp fan, so this one didn't do it for me. The bread stuffing was crumbly and dry, but I could have eaten a whole plate full of that wilted chicory!
Arctic Char with fennel braise and Yukon gold dumplings (again, sorry about missing a picture on this one)
I love Arctic char, but I didn't like this one - it was a little oily, and the texture was off to me, although I enjoyed the potato dumpling.
Pork Chop rubbed with "stir fry" paste; baby bok choy and kumquat-garlic sauce
Like shrimp, I'm not a pork chop person, so that part didn't go over for me. But I was glad for the piece of bok choy.
Halibut with crab hash, saffron aioli, and "angry" fritter garnish
This halibut was amazing - perfectly cooked, and still moist, lovely; and the saffron aioli added some extra luxury. But I could have left the crab hash underneath.
Beef tenderloin with red wine jus, lobster butter and buttermilk onion ring
This beef tenderloin was amazing, but I couldn't finish it after all the food! While I wasn't crazy for the lobster butter, that onion ring was pretty great.
Thoughts (and great pictures) on the evening can be found via: Walsh Cooks (Cathy), Only Here for the Food (Sharon), It's a Weird, Wild and Wonderful Life (Twyla), Eating is the Hard Part (Chris), Moments In Digital (Bruce), In My Element (Maki), A Canadian Foodie (Valerie), Thoughts About Things (Sarah) and Mack Male's photos here. I will keep updating this list as more posts come up on the event.
**I'm editing here to add a You Tube video of David's thoughts on the evening. Once again, he comes off as being so sincere and thoughtful... maybe he just had a bit more time to choose his words? It's only added to my confused opinion on the man, but he generally seemed to have enjoyed himself.
**And here are some clips of the evening. The dinner actually lasted about twice that time, so quite a bit had to be cut for the video. But great to see it up. Thanks, Diane!