The tour took us to Los Angeles this weekend. It was my first effort working two days of shows, which was surprisingly pretty exhausting. It was also the first time I was reunited with a cast member from my own season, Antonia Lofaso.
The first day I was teamed up with Brian Malarkey (Season 3). Now you all know Brian is the Season 3 "seafood guy," the "good-looking guy," and the "guy that wore funky hats before Spike wore the funky hats." It's always interesting meeting someone from a different season. There is a certain fraternity that exists, like you know each other without really knowing each other. But I definitely felt, especially after a long night working and playing with Brian, that we shared a few more things then I have with some of my other colleagues. He's expecting, I have a newborn, he's married, I'm married, he looks good shirtless ... and so it goes.
The demos are really fun, and I strongly suggest checking it out if it rolls your way. It's the ultimate chance to ask those questions you know you need to know. And the most popular few are these:
1. Is Padma that hot? Yes, actually, hotter.
2. Is Tom that mean? No, I never thought he was mean.
3. Is Lisa a "b*!*#? This is a big question for most people and they get pretty fired up about it. But listen: She isn't boiling puppies or running over elderly folks in the street.
It is this interaction with the fan base that makes the tour so great. I was amazed how this show has touched so many people. And for me, and pardon if I get a bit too serious about it, but it's an opportunity to validate the show's integrity. It is a chance to show that any combination of TC cooks would wipe the floor with any combination of Hell's Kitchen cooks, and really prove that we can cook ... or not ..., but it's the only way for now (until I release Smell-O-Vision, next fall ) to really know how each chef's food tastes.
Each demo is very much like a Quickfire. We show up, we have minimal prep time, we have minimal budget (ahem!!!) and we cook for a large group in a short time frame.
So the show was good and it was capped off by a stationary bicycle race between Brian and me to commemorate the Olympic opening ceremonies! The bus has two of these bikes that have blenders hooked to them, so that when you pedal, the blender turns and makes, in this case, smoothies. How embarrassing. I pray that photographs of me humping that Schwinn don't surface. Another silver medal ...
And boys will be boys, so of course our class evolved into a late night party, complete with a few nutty happenings ...
1. Brian and I went for a swim in the hotel pool, and later shared hair gel
2. We drank too much, obviously, and toured around LA looking for a party at Lance Bass' house. (Don't ask.)
3. I got separated from my party, which eventually included Antonia, and stumbled around Hollywood until I found a cab and got back to the hotel
4. And I lost my wallet ... This is the first time I have ever lost my wallet. So, losing a wallet is a pretty awful feeling. However, luckily, OMG, how lucky am I!, my cabbie called me the next morning to tell me he found it. Thanks David from Iran!!!
So, Day 2 started with Antonia afraid I was in jail, and Fred, our den mother for the tour, hazing me. It started with a small headache as well.
Working with Antonia is great. It always is. She's a great chef, has an amazing palate, and just has this sort of free flow to her cooking. Not to mention, a personality that's inspiring to be around. She loves her craft, as evidenced by our amazing meal at Foxtail on Friday. She somehow puts out this soulful, "just give me a big bowl of that" cuisine from a kitchen the size of a bathroom stall.
As the classes went on for the day, I realized how important this stuff is right now, how important every handshake and every dish I cook is. And how every single person I meet needs to get every ounce of energy and time I have. I'm exhausted, I love it!
Catch me in Florida next month for both the Tampa and Orlando tour stops, and catch up with me at www.RichardBlais.net to hear more about, well, losing wallets, fake beards, cooking with nitrogen, running a few restaurants, and what? Blogging The Real Housewives of Atlanta!!!