Lee Anne Wong

Lee Anne Wong shares the joy of meat on a stick.

on Mar 26, 2008

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This Block Party was a Sistine Chapel-like challenge for my team to set up. It's our version of door-knock dinners. Of course production had met with the people who lived on Richmond Street to coordinate the pantry raids and get the OK to let a bunch of crazed chefs in their houses. I met with the homeowners who opened their doors for us to find out what they had in their fridges and prepare them for the mayhem to come. There were certain concerns I had by allowing our chefs to just go in and take food out of a stranger's fridge. Food safety was my first and utmost concern. We needed to make sure that the food was as fresh as possible, unlike my fridge, which needs to be cleaned out because I haven't cooked at home in a while, so there may be a science project hiding somewhere. The homeowners were indeed permitted to give the contestants any food out of their fridge or pantry, as long as it was fresh and unopened. Thankfully, our contestants had plenty to work with. And for the record, I did not fill up that lady's pantry. In fact, I never even saw it because initially we weren't going to let the chefs in their cabinets. Dude, totally bomb shelter ready. Reminds me of my mom.
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So Blue Team wanted to identify themselves as "Upscale", while the red team categorized themselves as "Classic Americana." I think neither really hit the mark and most of the food I had tasted was OK but nothing stood out. So everyone can know, it was a bit of an Indian Summer in Chicago and even though it was late September, it happened to be around 90 degrees out the day of the block party. However, it was 88 degrees out the day before, so the contestants shouldn't have expected much different. I found the paella and mac and cheese to be questionable items for such a hot day. A seafood ceviche or salad might have been slightly better use of the seafood he had, and I don't know anyone who eats mac and cheese outside when it's 90 degrees.