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The View from My Kitchen

Benvenuti! I hope you enjoy il panorama dalla mia cucina Italiana -- "the view from my Italian kitchen,"-- where I indulge my passion for Italian food and cooking. From here, I share some thoughts and ideas on food, as well as recipes and restaurant reviews, notes on travel, and a few garnishes from a lifetime in the entertainment industry.

You can help by leaving comments on posts and by becoming a follower. More than a hundred thousand people all over the world have viewed the blog and that's great. But every great leader needs followers and if I am ever to achieve my goal of becoming the next great leader of the Italian culinary world :-) I need followers! I promise, I'm not going to spam anybody. I'd just like to know who's out there and what your thoughts are on what I'm doing.

Grazie mille!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Live From Atlanta! The Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show

Wow! What a day! This year's edition of the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show in Atlanta is in full swing and it looks like it's going to be bigger and better than last year's.

Founder Denise Medved, with able assistance from Jill Collins and an excellent staff, have brought more vendors, more exhibitors, more local chefs, and more celebrities to the Cobb Galleria Center than ever before for this fourth iteration of what's quickly becoming  a classic culinary event.

A big feather in the cap this year is the inclusion of recognition by the celebrated James Beard Foundation and appearances by several James Beard chefs. I'll be talking with some of them tomorrow, so more to come on that score.

Today's highlight, of course, was Giada De Laurentiis. For all you haters, there's an old Italian phrase: Va'a fare in culo, often expressed more simply as "fongool." (Go look it up.) After years of worshipping my personal Italian culinary goddess from afar on TV and in print, I finally got the chance to worship at her feet -- literally. She was seated in a big overstuffed chair in the green room when we met and appropriately placed furniture near her was scarce, so in order to get close enough to her for her voice to register on my recorder, I sort of had to squat next to her chair, which eventually turned to lowering my aged bulk to a seated position on the floor. At least I didn't drool on her shoes. The results of the conversation will be forthcoming soon.

But I will tell you this much now; Giada put on a fabulous show for her fans. She is easily the most personable celebrity chef I have seen to date. She interacts with her audience and seems to enjoy the interaction as much as they do. In fact, when asked by a fan to name her culinary inspirations, Giada responded that her fans were among her inspirations and cited Q&A sessions like the one she was participating in as a source for the development of many of her recipes. She even engaged volunteers from the audience to assist her in the preparation of the three dishes she presented during her hour-long demo. She moved seamlessly back and forth between fans with questions lined up at microphones and her volunteer sous chefs on the stage. And the lucky helpers got to take the finished dishes back to their seats. It was an entertaining hour that passed far too quickly.

I talked to numerous vendors with interesting stories to tell and useful products to sell. And my sales resistance being what it is, I wound up owning several of said useful products. I'll be reviewing some of those goods and detailing some of those conversations soon.

Paula Deen and Pat and Gina Neely are making appearances on the celebrity stage tomorrow. Paula, I understand, is dealing with a family crisis that will limit her availabilty this weekend, but I may get a few minutes with the Neelys. And I've got lots more people to interview before the show wraps up tomorrow afternoon. Then the show moves on to Houston and Washington, DC. You really owe it to yourself to try to make it to one of these fabulous events, the largest of their kind in the United States. Go to http://www.metrocooking.com/ to find out more and check back here from time to time over the next few days as I sort out my thoughts and experiences from this year's great Atlanta show.

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