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Have you ever been surprised by a TV "celebrity" chef?

This weekend I had the opportunity to go to a charity event where one of the special celebrity guests was Kerry Vincent from the Food Network Challenge. She also founded the nation's largest competitive sugar show here in Tulsa (which is coming up in a few weeks). The event was a walk around meet and greet sort of thing with about a zillion desserts and beers and wines. I've always enjoyed her snarkiness and cutting comments on TV, so wondered what she might be like in person.
My surprise? She couldn't have been nicer or more gracious. She spent a good 10 minutes or more talking to me and my date. Dished on behind the scenes stuff on the show and posed for pictures. No entourage, and she carried her own bag of autographed photos. In the middle of one of her stories we were interrupted by a server from the Cheesecake Factory booth who came over and offered her a big slice of a chocolate reese's cheesecake. I thought to myself.... "Holy crap, she just offered Kerry Vincent chain restaurant cheesecake!" Ms. Vincent graciously accepted it, and said "I always like the Cheesecake Factory so I'm sure I'll like this." Then went on to say she thought she recognized the waitress from when she was there before. (The server acknowledged that yes, she had waited on her before.) Thanked her and happily munched down on her cheesecake while she continued to tell stories. She was so funny and nice and even made fun of her own image on the Challenge show as the "Simon Cowell of cake."
Have you ever had a run in with a celebrity chef and been surprised at the outcome?

 
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  1. My parents ran into Robert Irvine from Dinner: Impossible at Starbucks in Hilton Head, and said he couldn't have been nicer. They were chatting casually in line, and then my mom mentioned that she recognized him from the show, and he mentioned his restaurant, etc. They were really surprised that he seemed like just anyone else in line at the Starbucks.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jeanmarieok

      If anyone needs to be humble and gracious it's got to be Irvinve.

      (Didn't know he had a restaurant. I knew about the two he was trying to build in Florida that led to his time away' from FN.)

    2. My husband & I used to go to the South Beach Food & Wine Festival before it got huge. They had an area where the chefs come out & sign their cookbooks. Rachel Ray was and hour and half late for her scheduled signing time & then only signed the books. She didn't even try to talk to anyone. It was completely obvious that she didn't want to be there. She sat behind the table & would do a picture if someone asked, but wouldn't even stand up.
      Next to her was Tyler Florence & Paula Deen. Tyler stood in front of the table & greeted each person with a hug. Paula & her husband started out behind the table & had fans come around for photos but eventually moved out front like Tyler. She talked so much to each person the staff had to remind her to of the people waiting.
      Most of the chefs I've had the chance to meet have all been very gracious, but Rachel Ray was just plain rude. I was never crazy about her, and that sealed the deal for me.
      My favorite was Anthony Bourdain. He had his cigarettes & beer & was just a hoot. He took the time to thank people for coming, was willing to take as many photos as was needed & was geniunly happy to meet everyone.
      Alton Brown was another one. We missed his book signing, but he came out among the crowd & took photos & signed books & seemed shocked that he had such a "following"

      15 Replies
        1. re: deepsouth

          No, she's not a chef and she admits that fact. She has no formal training, just OJT.

          1. re: deepsouth

            lol. No not at all but she thinks she's quite the celebrity now. Shouldn't her 15 minutes be way over by now?

              1. re: jcattles

                Like her or not, respect her cooking or not, she is hardly a flash in the pan. A woman who has built somewhat of an empire over the last DECADE since she premiered her first show - four successful TV shows, close to 20 cookbooks, a line of cookware and kitchen products, lines of oil/vinegar/stock/pet food, several product endorsement deals, AND her own magazine. In addition to all of that, being that she is a woman who also founded a not-for-profit organization, I'd say she is not someone who we typically only entitle fifteen minutes to. AND, well, when you have a bunch of TV shows, books, DVDs, your own magazine, companies wanting you to speak for their products, and stores that want to sell wares with your famous name on it, you pretty much ARE a celebrity. Both of your comments were pretty silly.

                1. re: Justpaula

                  Silly or not, that is MY opinion. She was rude to me & many others. I will never be a fan of hers, no matter how wildly successful she may be.

                  1. re: jcattles

                    I don't think jcattles cmment was silly. Certainly not the first one. Sounded like a well-balanced report from watching multiple celebrities at the same event and how they reacted with their fans. I'm at a loss why that report was "silly"

                    1. re: Firegoat

                      I can't speak for Justpaula, but I think jcattles may be a tad harsh in declaring Rachel Ray to be rude.

                      The story itself described a person who was late (yes, I also find tardiness rude, but I allow for the fact that things may happen to a person-- and I wonder what happened when a person arrived late at a promotional gig) and then not very talkative. I don't know. It's just one occasion in which jcattles had met her, and I can't help but wonder if something bad happened, if she were ill, or if there were any other factors that impeded RR's ability to perform like the pretend best friend that so many require lest she be thought 'rude'. Really, 'rude' sounds too extreme for the off-day that jcattles described.

                      But then, I think that in other posts I may have established that I'm a sucker and likely to give people the benefit of the doubt. And personally, I'd like a really good story about some truly unpleasant behaviour if the word 'rude' is going to come into play.

                      1. re: Lizard

                        She wasn't just rude to me, but to many other people waiting in line. It was quite clear she didn't want to be there, starting with her "demo" on one of the stages.

                        If I catch a "celebrity" out of the blue in their day to day lives & they aren't as nice as i thought they should be, sure I'll cut them some slack. I can understand an off day, we all have them. However, if it is an event where people pay hundreds of dollars (not to mention the fact that the "celebrity" is getting paid to be there) to meet & greet fans, then they damn well better put on a happy face & be as polite as they can be.

                        I wasn't trying to make a big deal out of RR's behavior in the above post. I was offering my experiences with various "celebrity" chefs. If someone wants to take offense to what I said & make a big deal out of it, then that's up to them. I know what happened, how it made me feel, & MY opinion about her. I'll just leave it at that.

                        1. re: jcattles

                          I agree. That sounds pretty rude. I thought justpaula was referring to the comment about her 15 minutes being up as "silly".

                          1. re: jcattles

                            I'm not taking offence save for to question how this was actually 'rude'. But then, as you note, if someone wishes to take offence to what someone does and make a big deal of it, it's up to them.

              2. re: jcattles

                I ran into Rachel Ray filming at Jim's Steak & Cheese in Philly when I was there for a weekend around 2002. She was pretty nice, altho she didn't take any of my suggestions on where to go for $40 a Day in Boston.

                1. re: jcattles

                  Not a huge fan of Rachel Ray, but I went to one of her book signings to get one of her books signed for my sister. She couldn't have been nicer or more gracious. Plus, she had the firmest handshake that I had ever felt. It was like shaking hands with a Terminator.

                  1. re: gyc

                    I am a very firm handshaker.
                    Just because I'm a woman I don't have to have my handshake be a fishy little squeeze.
                    When I shake a persons' hand (man or woman) it's firm and often noted.
                    I'm not a wimp I'm a woman, please properly shake my hand, I won't break :)

                    Not surprised RR gives a good handshake.
                    Probably more men in the food industry than women.

                  2. re: jcattles

                    Is there a difference in Rachel standing and sitting? If so, I can't imagine it being too great.

                  3. I ran into Alton Brown at the Pike Place Market in Seattle. He was shopping at Seattle Cutlery so I guess he is addicted to knives as most Chowhounds. He was warm, friendly and gracious.

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: Leper

                      I'm so glad to hear that about Alton Brown and Robert Irving. I really like them both.

                      1. re: Leper

                        The thing about Alton is, he really knows his stuff and I'm impressed by his knowledge of food, but I can't stand his shtik. I don't think he's funny. Why can't he be serious?

                        1. re: mucho gordo

                          ditto on Alton.

                          wanna get drunk really quickly? watch ICA, and every time he says device, cornucopia or application, or acts surprised that he guessed correctly about what one of the chefs is making, take a drink...you'll be wasted in minutes.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            I'll drink to that, GHG and, speaking of ICA and shtik......that inane, overly dramatic 'chairman' has got to go. IMHO, they could do away with Kevin, also; he adds nothing to the show.

                            1. re: mucho gordo

                              They need to bring in the Chairman from the original Iron Chef, that guy was hilarious. Kevin can go, I agree. Maybe put in some giggling starlets would help too.

                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                I'll agree the other one is a bit better.

                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                  Is he still alive? Can't recall his name to do a search.

                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                    He was the original Jean Valjean in the Japanese Les Mis.. . I believe.

                                  2. re: mucho gordo

                                    Don't ditch the Chairman! Mark Dacascos is an entertainer (and handsome, too). He is funny and when you see him in a candid situation, he fully admits that his "schtick" is somewhat goofy. The only thing that annoyed me about him was the fact that they did a poor job of faking his tumbling on ICA. As a former gymnast, the "run the tape backwards" thing on his back tuck onto the stage and the flying ponytail on the stand-in tumbler make me cringe everytime. (I know, I'm weird.)

                                    1. re: CapreseStacy

                                      I once watched part of his film "I Am Omega" and I believe it should be in the top 10 list of worst movies ever made.

                                      As someone who is not a former gymnast, I never noticed any of the things you mentioned about the jumping.

                                      1. re: John E.

                                        I remember him as a bad guy in a Jet Li movie.

                                2. re: mucho gordo

                                  There are other food personalities for that. I think Alton fills a very specific niche that I don't really see anyone else doing.

                              2. I was lucky enough to meet Julia Child, and it was truly an accident. I was managing an art gallery next door to Williams-Sonoma, where she was signing her book "Cooking With The Masters" in 1993 (BTW, that book is funny now, when you look at the old pictures of some of the chefs-Emeril, the Too Hot Tamales, Nancy Silverton, Lidia).
                                Of course, the crowds were insane and there was no way I could even get out of work to wait in line.
                                Several hours later, into the gallery walked Julia with her assistant! We chatted for a bit and I told her I was sorry I missed the signing. I left her alone to wander around and before she left, she said something to the assistant, who went back to W-S and came back with a book! Julia signed it and handed it to me, saying she hoped I enjoyed it.
                                What a delightful and charming, wonderful lady. Not one ounce of pretension.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: BubblyOne

                                  How wonderful. I'm so jealous. She is one chef I would've loved to meet. I'm sure I''m not alone with that thought though.

                                  1. re: BubblyOne

                                    What a great story. I can 't think of a single chef I would have liked to have had a chance to meet and converse with more than Julia Child. She always seemed so warm and friendly. Somewhere on these boards, someone told a story about Julia on one of her shows with Martha Stewart. Matha was going on and on about how great the eggs were that her chickens laid and how they are much better than store-bought eggs (while holding one of the eggs Julia provided) and Julia's response was "...next time, bring some".

                                    1. re: BubblyOne

                                      Lovely story. I'm sorry that I never got the chance to meet her.

                                      1. re: BubblyOne

                                        Right after I graduated college l I lived in Somerville not too far at all from where Julia lived in Cambridge. I used the laundromat next door to Savenor's where Julia was reputed to shop. I always wandered the aisles there while waiting for my laundry to finish in the wild hope that I would run into her. It never did happen. I also lived in the vain hope that I would just happen to see her on my regular walks to the train station. Also never happened, but the fantasy was nice.

                                      2. People on TV -- be they chefs or not -- are just like people not on TV.

                                        Some are nice, some are not.

                                        Sometimes you'll bump into someone who IS nice but is having a bad day (or moment).

                                        Sometimes you'll meet someone who IS NOT nice, but is puttting on a facade because of a pre-planned event.

                                        C'est la vie, non?

                                        1. from various tv shows I've met Jacquie Maloof, Emeril, Bill Boggs, Alton Brown, John Beck.
                                          all have been very gracious and it's my pleasure to have been at the right place at the right time.

                                          1. Last year had the pleasure of attending the Food Network Chelsea After Dark ...out of all of the chefs we were able to meet my favorite was Jeffrey Steingarten, I know not a chef, but what a hoot...had a "few" glasses of wine with him. Also another great chef was Brad Farmerie, we mentioned we couldn't get reservations at Public, he gave me his card and said to call him...we got in ;) Chef Howie “Bulldog” Kleinberg (Top Chef) was also very nice

                                            Does anyone remeber the ROCK from Hell's Kitchen? Well he came to Bermuda for a "culinary event" and ended up talking to my husband for over an hour about local fish in Bermuda ...

                                            Drank WAY TOO Much wine with Chef Michel Richard at a Celebrity Chef dinner in Bermuda, WOW that was FUN...he was the guest chef at the Hotel where I was the Catering Manager, he brought a case of wine with him and throughout the day he would show up at my office and we would sit out over the harbour and enjoy that wonderful wine!

                                            Who was not so nice was Guy...sorry Guy Fans, he was close to arrogant

                                            1. Emeril was filming his Green Channel show at the Whole Foods across the street from my office and I met him a couple of times. He is so great with the crowds. He comes across as very warm in person.

                                              I am going to Ina Garten's book signing in October and hope to get in. She's one I really want to meet.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Manassas64

                                                WOO-HOO, thanks for posting that. I just checked and Ina's coming to the Williams-Sonoma near me in November!

                                              2. worked for one...he surprised me every day...BAM...that's all I'm sayin'

                                                1. Every year in Pittsburgh there is a foodie show called Good Taste Pittsburgh. Last year Duff was there. What a jerk. He did nothing but knock the city. I was extremely disappointed in how rude he was. You don't have to rave about our city but at least be gracious.

                                                  1. From Top Chef, I've run into Mike Isabella and he was completely the opposite of how he portrayed himself on tv. I've come across Bourdain and even on his show I don't think he is a jerk... He just just seems to be "one of the guys". I feel like there is someone else, but I can't remember who at the moment.

                                                    1. I've had 3 celebrity chef encounters. I'll list them in order:
                                                      Julia Child - she was in bookstore in Santa Barbara CA, one aisle over from me. I recognized the voice. I didn't talk with her, but took a photo of she and her husband as they left and walked across the street.
                                                      Sara Moulton - with Jean Anderson in Butcher Shop here in my little town.
                                                      Tony Bourdain - this was the greatest! Husband and I were eating in little hole-in-the-wall BBQ spot here in town. Husband said "isn't that the guy on Food TV"? I looked and said "no way", then looked again, and sure enough it was him! He was not with anyone, just standing waiting to order at the counter. I went up to him and made some smart comment to him - which is totally out-of-style for me. He thought I was asking for cigarette. I don't even smoke. We had a back and forth, with both of us being sorta snarky - and I asked him to join us for dinner. He sat with us for about 15 minutes until his friend arrived. He autographed a menu (with a drawing of chef's knife, dripping blood). Gosh, do I wish I'd gotten a photo! I do have the autograph!

                                                      1. I have had the fortune of meeting rachael ray on a more "personal" level (meaning with someone who is a very close friend of hers) and she was extremely gracious, kind and hilarious. She was also in sweatpants-type attire, so it was probably a more comfortable situation for her and isn't really what this thread is intended for...I only mention it to say that she's a really nice woman in her "comfort zone." I shudder to think what I would be like in such a public place.

                                                        Living in nyc, I've seen/run into Mario Batali more times than I can count (generally late in the evening.) He's always been nice, although sort of a mess at the hours I've seen him. This seems to be a trend, I notice. He was buying many people drinks one of the nights I saw him. I'm sure he would have posed for a picture, but he was sort of...red.

                                                        Met Wylie Dufresne in a similar "friend of a friend" setting and he was not nearly as socially awkward as I expected, although he does seem like a chemist stuck in a "celeb" body.

                                                        Eaten meals from Mark Simmons a few times since he works at two restaurants within 10 minutes of my apartment, and spoken to him twice when he's out roaming the floor. He remembered me the second time, which I thought was cool. While sort of "d-list," he was very nice and the meals I've had from his kitchens were exponentially better than those I've gotten at Mesa Grill and Babbo. So there's that.

                                                        1. I work for the Flying Pig Food truck and I typically run into some of the famous food truck owners, such as Chef Bryan of The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills, since his truck is parked close to ours.

                                                          Today we just filmed a segment for Oprah with Tyler Florence and Spencer's On the Go (from The Great Food Truck Race) and Bordergrill.

                                                          Susan Feniger and Mary Sue were there and I talked to them about their truck and they let me in and we swapped food. Got some pictures with them too! I was pretty happy to finally meet her and she is just as nice and awesome as she appears on TV.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Johnny L

                                                            Susan Feniger is awesome - I emailed her restaurant with a couple of questions about the food (planning a small event, etc) and she responded personally, and asked me to give her a call to discuss. She was terrific, and came up with really good ideas, etc., and could not have been nicer.

                                                            1. re: Johnny L

                                                              She seems very down to earth from her TC Masters appearances. Glad to hear she is a real life mensch