My final chapter for last Friday was my first time in front of a live studio audience at Party Source’s EQ Event Center. A cooking demo hosted by Chef Philippe Audax, executive chef of University of Cincinnati, I was pretty new to the setup, having yet to sit down and discuss the inner workings of EQ with Event Coordinator and Local Food personality Amy Tobin.
I was asked by Grover Arnold, EQ’s veritable shop foreman – who I will refer to henceforth as G-Love – to come up with wine pairings and worked up a tentative list (as follows):
R. Stuart Big Fire Pinot Noir Oregon 2009
Autumn Farmer’s Market Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts and Pomegranate Molasses paired with Masi Campofiorin Rosso del Veronese IGT 2008
Pork Tenderloin with Bell Pepper Marmalade paired with Qupe Syrah Central Coast 2009
Syrah-braised Short Ribs with Soft Polenta and Roasted Carrots paired with Borsao Berola Campo de Borja 2009
Chocolate Red Wine Cake paired with Klinker Brick Old Vines Zinfandel Lodi 2010
A full house. A talented chef. A crackerjack staff.
What could go wrong?
I am always harsher than everyone else on my job performance, but I haven’t done a tasting that trades off with a chef before. Not making excuses here folks. Just stating the obvious. Definitely could have done better. But when you are running on fumes, you tend to just muddle through and worry about the fallout afterward.
It’s a shame really, because I could have really set the bar much higher. And knowing that expectations for me and my performances are high, I couldn’t have taken a bigger dive than last Friday.
I’ve been in this business a long time. I’ve performed on stage in front of thousands of people before. But speaking is a much different animal than singing can be. It is more intimate. There is nothing to distract the audience, nothing to deflect. You might as well be naked on stage. (Though I can’t imagine anyone trying to eat while I am talking about wine in the raw. Pretty revolting if you think about it.)
Will there be other times? Probably. Any time soon? Don’t know.
I actually find it funny in retrospect, how I talk to a crowd. It sounds like Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgmont High meets James T. Kirk after a night with that green woman. Hey, not everyone can sound like James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman. And I certainly ain’t no Gary Vaynerchuk. Just a middle aged, tubby wine geek from the Midwest, that’s me.
And this concludes our #FollowFriday flashback.