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Baby Legs and Everything In Between

THROWDOWNUP with Amy Storch

In my long and illustrious career of bothering minor celebrities, I have:

1) Swiped fried calamari from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

2) Screamed IMABIGFAN!! at Ted Allen outside a wine festival while waving a commemorative wine glass at him.

3) Ate fondue with Project Runway's Laura Bennett; spilled fondue on self.

4) Non-consensually hugged Alan Cumming in the bathroom line of a restaurant.

5) Stared slack-jawed at 30 Rock's Judah Friedlander while he ate ravioli with his family.

LESSON FOR CELEBRITIES: if you see me, and there appears to be food involved in the scenario, RUN AWAY.

A few weeks ago, Jason got an email from someone at the Food Network. They were looking for local "food people" to participate in a new travel series that would profile a local chef. I was invited too.


Food Network People
: We need some DC-area foodie people for this show.

Google: Here you go!

Food Network People: Oh look, he's married! Hmm, maybe she's a foodblogger too!

*Food Network People visit my blog on the day this entry was posted *

Food Network People: Well, THAT was easy.

LESSON FOR BLOGGERS: Visibility on Google is important, even if your blog is TOTALLY NOT.

Of course, we DID explain that I am not a foodblogger, and the Saltines were NOT involved in any sort of gourmet cracker-and-black-truffle napoleon amuse bouche, or anything, but they still liked the idea of husband-and-wife foodies, and invited us to be on some show we'd ever heard of as part of "panel" that would sit around and eat food and then talk about said food. I encouraged Jason to accept the invite, since I figured that, as part of PANEL, the OTHER PANEL MEMBERS were probably researched a bit better and we could sit back and let them talk and just be the idiots who are always on camera shoving free food into their mouths in the most awkward manner possible.

We showed up at the appointed time yesterday. I wore the only two items of clothing I own that currently fit. A old pair of maternity jeans from the Gap and a Liz Lange t-shirt from Target. I did not get a haircut for the occasion, and decided to take the risk that unplucked eyebrows won't be noticeable on HDTV. I looked somewhere between "sort-of pregnant" and "so how was the kegger?" My goal for the day was to stay away from the camera as much as possible, and to NOT THROW UP. (I have thrown up about 300 times since Monday, of course.)

"Hey," I said to Jason as he paid our cabbie, "I swear I just saw Bobby Flay."

LESSON FOR EVERYBODY, EVERYWHERE: The Food Network is run by Ashton Kutcher.

We walked in just in time to hear Bobby Flay challenge the local chef to a throwdown. A motherfucking Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

The restaurant was already packed, and the crowd seemed especially well-lubricated. We found some friends and took our place in the anonymous mob, and I breathed a sigh of relief because the crowd had a LOT of tall people who were willing to jump into the camera frame and scream WOOOOOOOOOO DC RUUULLLES! while I parked my ass in a prime bit of real estate next to the ladies room.


Bobby Flay is really blurry in person. That's a fact!

Bobby Flay and our hometown chef started cooking mussels and fries. (Moules frites!) The smell was...oh. Dear. Two minutes in and I was not doing well. Jason held onto my elbow to keep me from reeling and right then a guy with a headset approached us. He told us he needed to take us upstairs.

And once we were upstairs we learned the full extent of our complete and total punk'd'ing. We were not part of the crowd or a panel. We were the goddamned JUDGES.

"Just us?" I squeaked.

Just us.

And judging would involve on-camera interviews and personal introductions, something called "hero shots" and also, you know, ACTUAL JUDGING OF FOOD. That we would do in front of the cameras, the chefs, and that crazy-ass drunk mob downstairs.


Our official God-like judging cards and beverages of choice. Well. Not my FIRST choice, anyway.

The good news is that the cooking smells were definitely muted upstairs. The bad news is that I was now nauseous for completely different reasons.

Oh my God, you guys. I fully admit to having my attention whore qualities, but I was TERRIFIED. OUT OF MY WITS. I wanted to RUN AWAY and I couldn't get my hands to stop shaking. I'm more of a print attention whore, I think.

Jason and I held hands and promised to never, ever leave each other's side during this horrifically surreal experience and solemnly swore to judge the dishes fairly and honestly, even though it sounded like the crowd would fucking crucify us if the hometown chef didn't win. (The judging is done blind, at any rate, I suppose you might be able to guess but you really only know the two versions as Dish A and Dish B.)

The camera crew came upstairs and miked us (the sound guy lifted up the back of my shirt and said, "Congratulations!" at the sight of the ulta-attractive navy belly band) and had us do a million and four takes of our personal introductions (whatever, like ANYONE is going to hear "" and have any idea how to fucking spell it) and our personal tastes in moules frites ("blah blah texture balance flavor holy shit please let me stop talking now), and then we had to like...MUG for awhile. Arms crossed, hands on our hips, grimaces and tough-guy hard-ass judgey looks, or something.

Jason was especially good and hammy at these, while I just stood there and stared at the camera like a deer. AFTER it's been hit by the headlights. Of course, Jason had more problems SAYING stuff on camera, since he kept adding "uhs" and "ums" and they made him redo it all over and over. I think his problem was that he was actually trying to THINK about what he was saying, and make POINTS and SENSE, while I just opened my mouth and let nonsense spill out until I eventually got to a spot that seemed to call for a period. Then I would stop talking and stupidly look off-camera at the producer, who would sigh and tell me to do it again and to LOOK AT THE CAMERA THE WHOLE TIME, IDIOT.

I am telling you, those guys' jobs are really hard, and we did not help with anything.


I was really impressed with the custom judging cards, obviously. Maybe if the foosball table actually had a foosball I wouldn't have been, but we did what we could to pass the time.

Then it was time for judging. We were brought downstairs and the crowd was ordered to part for us, like we were some big-shot judgey judge experts of DOOOOOM (even though I'm sure everybody was like, "who the fuck?"). We sat down at a table with everybody behind us and Bobby Flay came and shook our hands and he is much shorter than I thought but is very very good-looking and an extremely sharp dresser. I would very much like a maternity version of his jeans, and the man can really pull off eggplant. 

Unfortunately, I was not there to discuss Bobby Flay's personal style. We were there to judge moules frites, which...not exactly the most appetizing thing to the first trimester digestive tract, and I don't even know if I'm supposed to eat them at ALL, but I figured since these mussels were MOST LIKELY not purchased off the hood of a car parked on the shoulder of the interstate and were PROBABLY cooked with a high degree of care, I could risk eating a few. In the name of the Throwdown! Tis my duty! A higher calling!

(I think we maybe got a touch of the Stockholm syndrome during the hour or so of sequestering.)

They brought the dishes and told us to go ahead and eat and discuss and make notes, and I panicked for a second because there were no forks on the table. I asked for forks (complete with fucking BABY SIGN LANGUAGE, people, since I clearly do not get out much), and the director said, "Oh, you want forks?"  Like, really? Is that your way, here in DC? How strange!

And then I panicked again because...yes? Right? You use a fork to get mussels out of their shells? I know how to suck down oysters but...mussels?  They can be stubborn and slimy and there's all sorts of other stuff in the broth you need to eat in the same bite? Or fuck, did I just make a huge cutlery faux pas on national television?

She gave us plastic forks. And we dug in.

And here's where the story must end for now, in the name of preserving the sanctity of the results and the show, which most likely won't air until the summer. (I think they shoot the entire season pretty much back-to-back and then edit them all later.) (Jason's convinced he'll get edited out completely, and I am quite hopeful they'll replace me with a cute CGI bunny rabbit, or a digital Ted Allen.) I learned later that I said at least one completely boneheaded misinformed thing about one of the dishes, but was assured that my hair was NOT doing anything weird and I didn't have lipstick on my teeth.

When it was all over I ran to the bathroom because I'd had to pee the entire time but was afraid to pull my pants down in case the microphone slid off and fell into the toilet. The end.



Wow, I love you. That was great, can't wait to see it - we DVR that show. And now I can say to my husband, "THAT's the girl I always talk about like we're really good friends!"
I hope you didn't have a lot of 'negative effects' afterward!!


Ooh, a smackdown right here in DC! Can't wait to see it, and I'm sure you guys were great!


I LOVE you a whole lot.

jive turkey

That's awesome!! Can't wait to see you on TV.

Oh, and way to go choking down those mussels on an iffy stomach. That's the most impressive thing of all.


OMG! I love that show! Please keep us posted on when it airs! I can't wait!

And congrats on being able to eat and keep down mussels on a first tri stomach--you are a better woman than I!


OMG! I love that show! Please keep us posted on when it airs! I can't wait!

And congrats on being able to eat and keep down mussels on a first tri stomach--you are a better woman than I!


I was waiting with baited breath for this story. I loved it! I have heard terrible awful things about Bobby Flay and what a dickhead he is. And I still watch that show, even though I kind of hate him. :) I cant wait to see your episode!


Wow, I can't wait to see it! I don't know how you pulled that off... I can't even walk near the seafood part of the grocery store right now without gagging.

FunnyGal KAT

Funniest.story.ever. I love that you didn't just tell what was going on around you, but what was going on inside your head too.

And who knew Bobby Flay was quite so... blurry?


Sweet Jeebus! this story made me pee my pants with glee. thank you, Amalah!

'I'm more of a _print_ attention whore."

Did you really eat the mussels? And hey, kudos to you for asking for cutlery (hello mcfly? why no forks?) Tell me, tell me please, that you hurled all over Bobby Flay? Please? Feel free to lie to me. It's not that I want you to puke, its just that it would have made some great TV. And made the judging easy. No puke = WIN.

This post was worth waiting for.


Quite honestly, I was able to do more than "choke down" the mussels. Both versions were absolutely fantastic. The winner's (seekrit!!) were downright heavenly, and I was sad when they yanked the dishes away after I'd only gotten to eat two or three from both dishes.

Later that night, I ate some Saltines and puked my guts out. I do not understand my stomach at all.



That's freakin' hilarious.


Ooh! I can't wait to see it! Be sure to let us know if you get an air date.


I am getting cable now JUST TO SEE THIS EPISODE.

You really captured the awkwardness of the entire moment - I had to read it with my hand covering most of my eyes.


Oh sweet jesus that is the single coolest thing I have EVER heard. I love Throwdown. I will probably TiVo your episode and never let it go.

Also? I kind of have a little (read: gigantic bordering on potential for stalker-ism) crush on Bobby Flay and YOU. MET. HIM. I could die.

You do realize that Jason's next gig will obviously be as a judge on Iron Chef. And how cool will THAT be?


I am so watching that and I normally hate shows of that nature.


I just feel so cool that I know you. Like I'm 6 degrees away from Flay or something.


OMG! So funny I nearly peed, still laughing actually. Thank you, that made my day!


ahh i'm so excited! do you think you can program the DVR 3-4 months in advance? no? well. let us know when it is airing. i'm sure you both did great.

and...are you not supposed to eat mussels with forks? cause. i do.


Oh man, very hard not to laugh out loud reading this at my desk.

Re. the forks, I've always used one empty mussel shell (well, the two, together) as....tongs to pull out the remainder. I first ever ate them in France when I was about 13, and I just followed what everyone else was doing. Does seem weird that they wouldn't have forks available, though, because people definitely don't always like to do the shell-tongs thing.


:) I can't imagine anyone choosing a woman in her first trimester for judging a food contest, let alone a food contest involving mussels. Makes me queasy for you, honey....


I don't want to be all "Wooohooo I saw that one coming!" but I totally did! I love that show so much! I think I've seen every episode at least a few times (sidenote: I just leave Food Network on all the time) that the big giveaway for me was the "local chefs" thing. ANYWAY! HOLYCRAP! What an experience! I'm so glad to know that my crush on Bobby Flay is totally justified.

And I'm sure you two did great!


I don't want to be all "Wooohooo I saw that one coming!" but I totally did! I love that show so much! I think I've seen every episode at least a few times (sidenote: I just love Food Network on all the time) that the big giveaway for me was the "local chefs" thing. ANYWAY! HOLYCRAP! What an experience! I'm so glad to know that my crush on Bobby Flay is totally justified.

And I'm sure you two did great!


My son absolutely loves this show. Very cool that you were on it!


How have you not seen Throwdown? BF challenged Junior's Cheesecake a while back and watching it made my mouth water. Mmmmmm cheesecake.

I'm looking forward to watching it when it airs. Although now I realize that they pick the judges out of their asses, and I mean that MOST SUPPORTIVELY.


I've been a little down on the Food Network for the last year or so but I will TOTALLY watch that episode. That story was worth the wait!


I swear, as I was reading it and kept seeing the Food Network mentioned, I thought Throwdown with Bobby Flay. You, girl, are awesome and brave for going through it with your head held high and I will be watching for it!


Talk about taking one for the team! And yes, you can eat mussels by picking them up, separating the shell and using one side to scoop the meat out of the other side. "foodies" might do this. Forks are much easier though. Can't wait to see this!

Fraulein N

That's terribly exciting. I can't wait until the episode airs so I can tell people, "I know her! Um, sort of. From the internets, I mean."


Hystrical! I can completely relate since I am 8.5 weeks pregnant (but who's counting?). I can't even imagine ingesting a mussel right now. Who cares what you said - you didn't barf!


OMG! Congratulations! I'm so jealous: absolutely love Bobby Flay. Is he just as cool in person as he appears on TV? I don't have cable, but maybe I'll catch it at my gym :)


I LOVE Bobby Flay! He came here once to do one of his shows. DH tells me like 2 weeks after that he delivered a portable toilet to some Food Network shoot that had a guy with red hair...OMG!!! I could have killed him. I can't wait to see your episode!


OMG!! I'm a food network junkie, and an amalah junkie, so now two of my favorite things have come together in one! I can't wait to see your episode! You will be keeping us updated on when it will air, right???

Congrats! That's so exciting! And your post was hilarious as always :)


Wow. You handle the spotlight a lot better than I do. I can't even handle interviews, much less if you ask me to say something smart and put me in front of a camera.

I can't wait to see it!


I just laughed my ASS off! Oh wow, beyond awesome story. I can't wait to see this on tv.


THAT, is an awesome story! I can't wait to watch!


Sounds wicked! It'll be fun to see you on TV. :)


you know, i was really loving that whole story. it was classic amalah the whole way, but you really outdid yourself with the fear of the microphone falling into the toilet. no matter where you go and whose food you judge: you will always foster a fear of toilets and their tendency to eat your valuable electronic equipment.




Holy crap, now you're not only blogging goddess, but food network goddess as well - how can one person be so lucky!!!

I've been waiting for your new post so I can tell you this - I can't access your blog at work because the filter lists it as "porn" - ha ha - I thought you'd like that!


I have never been so bitterly resentful of my lack of cable before. Damn.


I can't wait to see the results!


SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I love Throwdown and Bobby Flay and Amalah, and now they're all mixed together! You simply MUST tell us when it airs (as if you wouldn't).

I'm so jealous.


That WAS the best story ever. And some of my favorite things - I love mussels, I love Bobby Flay, and I love you - what could be better! Can't wait!


You know, I am thinking if I attempted the using-the-shell-to-dig-the-mussel-out-trick while on camera, my nerves and shaking hands totally would have sent a mussel flying into Bobby Flay's head.

I stand by my request for forks. It made getting at all the BACON much easier.


Coolest story I've heard in a long time! Throwdown is such a fun show. I can't wait to see you and Jason make your cable network debut!


This is my favorite story ever! I love Bobby(and Miriam and Stephanie - did you see them too?!?), the Throwdown, and you. 'Tis like a trifecta of things I love!

Plus? SO hilarious!


That was hilarious! Can't wait to see the show!


That is probably one of the most fun and funniest things I have ever heard of. I wouldn't have guessed that the judges were surprised when they got to an event.

The only event that I could be counted to show up in the right clothes for (especially since I would assume, like you, that I could fade into the background) would be What Not to Wear. :)

I can't wait to watch the episode.


That is awesome and also hilarious.

If I'd been in that position I'd suddenly be rethinking whether or not you aren't actually supposed to eat the shell, too, or something and OMG they're totally going to see right through me!!!

So cool.


Awesome! But also totally terrifying! I think I would have thrown up from the sheer excitement of it all. Good for you that you managed not to!


You are just the funniest. Ever. I can't wait to watch the show.


I just love you because even though you are so famous and a star and stuff, you are still so real and marvellous.


This is AMAZING. Best story ever.

Katie Kat

I don't know which is more exciting, that YOU got to see, meet and eat Bobby Flay (well, figuratively) or that I GET TO SEE YOU ON THE SHOW THIS SUMMER!


Hopefully you will have moved to my town and become my best friend by then, but, no pressure.


LOVED the whole re-telling, as usual. Can't wait to see the results!


you have officially made me laugh until I cried.

Suzy Q

HOLY SHIT! You got to judge a Bobby Flay Throwdown?!? Aaahhhh!

Also, you forgot about the time when you accosted Andrew Shue.


amalah darling, that is the most fab-o-luss story every. In fact, I would nominate it for an sequence in the "Best Story Ever" segment on my favorite (Canadian) news show - The Hour with George Strombolopolous (which all you should totally check out, by the way - Seriously. This story rocks, and so do you, my dear. As a fellow prego chick, I nearly wet myself laughing.


I so want your life! I cannot wait to watch you guys. This is the most exciting news I've heard since the baby! And I love Throwdown.

I noticed that Andrew Shue was missing, too. But with so many celeb encounters, how can you remember them all?


I love Throwdown. I'll certainly look for this episode. Thanks for the story!


I would have humped Alan C.'s leg. For real.


Bobby Flay is my boyfriend. He doesn't know it, or me, but he so is. And I don't care that he's short! I'm jealous.


Awesome. Cannot wait to see!


Oh you are so lucky. I adore that show! I can't wait to see it!


as a chef, that is one hell of a story. very cool. Bobby Flay and I went to the same culinary school and I love his restaurants. hes been a fav of mine for years. Jealous!!!!


That's awesome!

I've always eaten muscles using the shells as tongs. I don't think I've ever seen someone use a fork for them. I thought Moules frites were considered "finger food"

Can't wait to see it!

Crystal D

OMG, you get the coolest blogger experience of the day award! I can't wait to see you on TV and tell my husband I know you. (yeah I bet he'll love that as much as when I call bloggers my friends)
Really, I am pregnant and I am afraid I would eat anything the Food Network people would put in front of me. Raw fish, sure. Steak tartare, well I don't really eat beef, but OK.


I could not be more jealous. I love Bobby Flay so much that my two year old son can recognize him. And I'm pretty sure that even if I was pregnant before I met Bobby Flay, my husband would still question the baby's paternity. I was queasy for you while reading. So super jealous, but excited in the way you would be if someone you knew met Bobby Flay even though I don't know you.
Um. Congratualtions?


Can't believe they didn't give you any warning! I spent a sick day in bed watching a Throwdown marathon, Bobby loses most of the time. It would be sad if he won and probably not good TV. "Hey here I am, famous chef, here to humiliate you. Surprise!" If you haven't eaten at Bobby's Mesa Grill, it is well worth it.


I love this story! I am a food porn addict (what we call the food network) and will always stop on the Food Network Challenges. I would love to see one of those fancy cake competitions.


Pretty damn cool! I love that show and can't wait to see this episode.


OMG you are FAMOUS! you are now a celebrity!!! and your baby belly!


I freaking love that show. I am so excited for you! Be sure to let us know when it airs so that I may record it on mah dvr.

Operation Pink Herring

Possibly the best story ever. You must tell us when it's airing so Tivos everywhere can be set!


You're hysterical.


I'm SO jealous. I heart Bobby Flay, but I also REALLY heart Teddy Folkman (I know him through a friend). I couldn't make it to the Argonaut on time yesterday, but I totally would have had an Amalah-like minor celebrity mishap. Well, I would have gushed and you and Jason would have freaked!


Oh my god! I actually kind of cannot stand that show because I think Bobby Flay is a bit of a smug asshole (ahem, hope no one from the show is reading this!), but I'm totally going to watch every single episode now to watch for you and Jason!


I don't even know who Bobby Flay is, see what a Chef I am? But I can EAT!! Man can I eat.


I'm jealous! And am laughing hysterically - so much so that my husband wants to know what is going on. Love that show and can't wait to see you and Jason on it. Promise you'll give us some advance notice.


Wow. Just... wow!

I might actually have to watch that episode. In fact, I am definitely going to to have to watch that episode.


AHAHAHAHAHAHA. I can't take it. I CANNOT TAKE IT. It's too much! IT IS. I love it.


WOW! And because I am a dork, I just squealed and told everyone in my house this story as if it had happened TO MY VERY BEST FRIEND or something. Am I the only one?


I once danced with Ted Allen (cute glasses and all) at a friend's wedding about 10 years ago in Chicago. I wasn't aware that he was gay and spent a good part of the evening keeping a close watch on him, only to discover the next day that he was gay.

He was a really good dancer; I should have known then.


That's awesome!!! I'm so jealous. I love Bobby Flay....


OMG! You are totally famous now. When VH1 or some other network does a "Before They Were Famous" documentary special on you, can I be in some of the commentary segments? Not that I actually know you or anything, but I totally want to get dibs on this. Amalah = Rockstar!

Ms. Huis Herself

That is just AWESOME.

It makes me want to get cable.

And the part about needing to pee but being afraid the microphone would fall in? _Priceless_ ending!


Oh Jesus... Please tell me you left out the part about puking on Bobby to make the show more exciting. My husband spent far too long working as the GM at BF's Mesa Grill, and sharp dresser or not, the man's the most misogynistic, self-obsessed, douchy and, yes, short man in the world of food. And OHMYGOD is that saying a lot.

The guy can cook, though, so I'm sure those mussels were tasty in both directions :)


And here I thought the closest I would ever get to my red headed love was eating at Mesa Grill while he was in the kitchen. Even though you are a total internet stranger, this gets me so much closer to my true love! This is just 8 kinds of awesome.


While I'm quite impressed that you and Jason will be (maybe) making an appearance on the Food Network, I really am most impressed that while in your first trimester the IDEA of mussels didn't have you throwing up, let alone actually eating them. You rule.


OMG, I may never stop laughing. My favorite part is the label "breathtaking dumbness".

You are fabulous. I am now going to have to print out the Food Network schedule so I can start stalking Throw Down. I can't wait to see this.


how exciting...and hilarious!!!


That is some crazy stuff, Amy! I can't believe those people called you and didn't give you enough details so you knew what you were actually going to do. (Then again, I guess if they HAD, you might have turned them down...and then you wouldn't have had all the "fun!") Great post. :)


You're my hero.


No WAY! Okay, aside from feeling all indignant like wait, they wouldn't tell you ahead of time that you're the judge? What if you're allergic to mussels or something? Or what if you were pregnant--oh right.

But aside from that, that is wayyy awesome, and now I finally have a reason to go back to the Food Network after a very boring year!


Ahhhh! I love it! I can't wait to see the show!


That's so awesome!

Lady M

Longtime reader, first time commenter, and coincidentally recently became a fan of the Food Network: You are so cool! Can't wait to see the episode.


That's awesome Amy...can't wait to see your television debut!

While I'll forever be indebted to Flay for his shrimp & grits recipe (best ever) on Throwdown he strikes me as...uh, kind of a dick. I primarily enjoy watching the show just to see him lose to the local chefs (have only seen one episode where he won). Then again, I have a cold heart of stone...


Oooh Amy on TV! Sweet :D Can't wait til it comes out - I'm going to have to impose on a friend with cable heh.


That? The greatest blog entry ever.

I hate the Food Channel/Network/Superstation whatever. It makes me feel bad that the best cooking I've ever done was the raw chicken that I served my now-husband on our third date. However, I cannot wait to see the show and will perhaps have to watch more Bobby Flay ('cause he's hot, right?) to prepare for Smackdown: Amy style.

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