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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.

Basically:

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.

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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.

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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 "amalah.com" 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.

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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.

Comments

Maria

OMFG! You are a food star. Please let us know when it is going to air.

Jennifer

Why pick a Belgian dish for a DC throwdown? That's weird.

No worries, in Brussels, I'm pretty sure they use forks, to eat mussels. At least the first one, then the hingy mussel shell is used as a utensil to pick out the mussels from the others.

Fun factoid: Mussel .... or "moule" is also French slang for a lady's hoo ha... That probably doesn't help your nausea any...

And did you drink the Chimay beer? I've been to the Brewery in Chimay, Belgium. Run by monks and the beer is SUPER STRONG.

But awesome. So awesome.

Liana

I can't wait to see you on TV!!! I'm sure you guys were great, and totally cute :)

ashley

HOW EXCITING!!!!

I have to say, I went to Jason's blog and his description of the Throwndown just wasn't as exciting as your's. :-P

Maria

Have I mentioned how amazing I think you are? And brave. I think I would have thrown up a few gazillion times if that had been me.

Matt in London

Very, very funny and am only sorry that I'm never going to get to see it.

MrsHaley

YOU ARE SO COOL!!!!!! I love that show! PLEASE give us a heads up when it will air if you know! Squeeeeeeee!

FishyGirl

This is so awesome, and your retelling of everything is positively hysterical. I read your post out loud to my husband and had to stop a couple of times because I was laughing so hard I was crying. I can't wait to see the show.

gemma

I just brought the entire open plan office at work to a standstill with my giggling.

Also, I met the sweetest, cheekiest little boy yesterday and mentioned that "hes so cute, just like my friend's little boy". Then I realised I was talking about Noah, who obviously, I have never actually met in Real Life...

Amy

How crazy! But so very cool. I look forward to seeing it. I met Bobby Flay once, at Bar Americain. I remember thinking he was shorter than I expected, too. He was very nice and down to earth.

Alex

Greatest story ever. Ever. Bobby Flay is the man.

Kimberly C

Awesome! And now you have to go back and eat more mussels! Sucks about the pregnancy sickness(I personally refuse to call it morning sickness EVAR AGAIN.)

themikestand

I'm just going to revisit the shell-digging thing again, even though you're up to your eyeballs in mussel advice. And I know I'm only a prairie-boy transplant to the coast, but you can just use the entire (two halves) mussel shell to pick the next mussel out of its shell. No digging, flipping, or anything. It's like a game of operation (only without the red nose or sound effects). The end.

Stephanie

I was actually at the Throwdown, and I have to say, that you didn't look as nervous as you were. I opted not to give comments at the end, because I wouldn't know what to say. I think your job was really hard. I mean, how do you say that Bobby Flay's stuff wasn't that great... trust me, I tried them both and I while I am slightly biased because my friend was the chef, I can honestly say that Teddy's stuff was 10'x better. Anyway, your posting made me laugh out loud. But I just wanted to say Good job!

Dr. Maureen

This makes me wish I still got the Food Network!

Jamie AZ

Woo woo, what fun! LOL @ waiting to go to the bathroom - I'd have been afraid to drop the mike in the toilet, too! And that had to have been really hard for a pregnant woman to wait to do!

Can't wait to see it when it airs.

Chloe

You wouldn't be the first person to dunk a microphone into the toilet... my brother is a pro sound tech and he probably loses one battery pack a month to the great toilet dip!

Robyn

Oh my GAWD!! This is so cool! I feel like I know you personally, and I am so excited for you!! I can't wait to tell everyone to watch the show when it comes on, because then I can be all "That's Amalah. I know her and stuff!!"

I am such a dork.

Hannah

Best Story Ever.

I can't believe you didn't throw up. Just walking past the seafood department at the grocery store set my stomach churning during the first trimester.

Corinne

That's absolutely amazing and something that would only happen to you. I can't wait to see the episode!

Kate

You. Were. A. JUDGE! ON THROWDOWN WITH BOBBY FLAY! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! So cool! I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to bed a half hr later than planned because I get sucked into that goddamn show.

I would have run away crying as soon as the camera hit me, so I am sure you did fabulous.

ali

i have an unhealthy attraction to Bobby Flay.

and now even more than ever...now that i know he can pull off eggplant. bwah!

Kimszym

Funny stuff. You know, it is probably better you didn't know what you were in for--you didn't have to obsess about your hair, makeup, and outfit or worry that something terrible would occur (on camera! For the whole world to see!). I am sure you were yourself and everyone will love it.

Jen

LOL...I need that laugh today. Thanks. Oh, and if you get a chance I NEED to know more about the whole calamari / Scalie thing. I just can't imagine how that happened and I wanna know :)
Jen

Candy

Oh.My.God. Only you, grrl. I am going to watch every damned episode of Throwdown (like I wasn't already...ahem...) to see this one.

Amazing.

Amy the Mom

Wow! One of my favorite bloggers and one of my favorite Food Network shows! I cannot wait to see this!

Suzanne

Um, that SO rocks! I guess blogging DOES pay, huh? :)

Sorry it was mussels, but so very happy for you and Jason

Julianne

The hubby and I love watching Throwdown for the simple fact that Bobby seems to lose just about every damn time. I'm sorry it was seafood. Not a happy 1st Tri meal.

ollka

Okay. Boby Flay, whatever. YOU SAW TED ALLEN?!!

*Well, I guess the TV thing is also exciting:)

ollka

Pretend the missing "b" in my last comment is right where it's supposed to be. Okay?

wwbd

OMFG!!!! I cannot wait to watch the show! I don't have TIVO, so you'll have to give us lots of warning before it airs.

ImpostorMom

OMG That is awesome. I'm going to set up a season pass of that show just so I can be sure to get the DC one. I love the part about sign language. hysterical!

kim at allconsuming

Crickets. Chirping.

I think the seasons just changed.

kim at allconsuming

You got the humour in that comment didn't you?

Because the only thing better than a new post on Amalah is a BIG.LONG.POST.

I feel like should be smoking now.

Kelly

So terribly cool.

Sky

YOU are the luckiest lady in the land!

Bethany  Taylor

That is amazing!

I've never commented on your blog before, but I love the food network and Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Definitely let us know when it airs so I can watch it.


JenniferB

What you don't realize is that YOU are a celebrity to US! And we would be just as ga-ga, tongue-tied, food-spilling with you as you are with others! Me, anyway, I can't speak for the thousands of other amalah.com readers... Will definitely watch when it airs!

PS Also Jason was just quoted in the latest issue of Northern Virginia magazine, which we get inexplicably since we never ordered it...anyway that was cool to see too. Hope you guys are keeping all your press clippings and such!

robbin

OMG that is totally awesome that you got to be the judge for the throwdown. You must let us know when it will air.

I watch that show all the time.

Nichole

Amalah's a star....well a bigger star since I talk about you to my husband like one anyway, LOL.

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