Top Chef: The Tour

Ariane Duarte and Jennifer Carroll cook in Charlotte for the Tour.

May 14, 2010

Charlotte, North Carolina, the Queen City was the fourth stop on our 21-city tour across the country. My morning began in Atlanta at 5 a.m. as I needed to meet Chef Ariane Duarte in Charlotte by 9:30 a.m. for a live interview and cooking demonstration on the Charlotte Today Show for the local NBC station. Prior to the interview I made my way to the Green Room to relax and have a cup of coffee. Just as I was getting comfortable, a bed bug and termite-sniffing dog entered the Green Room (who was to appear on the show) and right behind the dog Comedian Bobby Collins, who happened to have a show in Charlotte later in the evening, entered the Green Room and suddenly my peace and quiet time came to an abrupt end! I must say, between Bobby and the bed bug sniffing dog, I was very entertained for the good part of an hour.

As the morning show begins, I had no idea what was about to occur during the hour. First up the dog, who apparently makes quite a living in the Charlotte area as a video montage shows the dog finding armies of termites and bed bugs. Next up is an interview with Bobby Collins, who has a very funny interview, however maybe not appropriate for morning tv as he talked about eating at a buffet while on a recent cruise ship and that he may as well just have put a stick butter in you know where and also about the lepers he encountered during a recent trip to Bangladesh. We were ready to end the Charlotte Today Show on a nice family friendly note until the anchorwoman invited Bobby to cook with Ariane. In my head, all I could think was that this could be a disaster and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

As the demo began, Ariane was preparing some prosciutto to cook for her asparagus salad. Bobby proceeded to pick up the proscuitto and tell her it looked like the part of a man’s genitalia that is snipped off when born in some parts of the world (he simply used one word to describe it). Ariane, without a blink of an eye, responded with, “yes, but it tastes better!” Although I was standing behind the camera mortified, I was proud of Ariane for holding her own with Bobby. The interviewed continued with more jokes, but Ariane was her usual amazing self! After the interview we met up with Season 6 favorite Jennifer Carroll, who was making her first tour stop. Later that evening Jen Carroll, Ariane and myself went to Bobby’s show and had a great time. After the show I took them to a very classy dinner at an Irish Pub where only the late night menu was available and we proceeded to eat Sausage, Chicken and Hot Dogs in a box. Welcome to the Top Chef Tour, Jen! Record crowds and perfect weather awaited us the next morning at the City Center Green Market where Jen wowed the crowd with smoked trout with deviled egg on rye toast and Ariane with a wonderful sirloin steak. Cooking tip of the day: when picking out trout, you want it to be a little slimy and no fish smell. Next stop…Pittsburgh, PA!