Day Two: South Beach Wine and Food Festival
Well … the Golden Clogs went pretty much as hoped by the Forces of Evil. Under-attended. Coincidence? Or conspiracy? Many of the people who DID show up were either a) drunk or b) seemingly confused. Ruhlman and I raced through our ceremonial duties as quickly as we could–before the little remaining gold paint left on our awards peeled entirely away–and before a good part of the audience realized we were NOT the warm up to \”Paula\’s Poker Party\” and that there would be no free fruit cup.
You know, I\’ve mercilessly and enthusiastically made sport of Rocco di Spirito many, many times. I\’ve said–and accused him–of a full menu of truly awful things. Some of them were even true. No matter how bizarre or inexplicable some of his career choices, I always respected him as a gifted cook. He\’s also–when not flogging frozen products–a thoughtful and insightful judge on Top Chef. But I have to tell you–of ALL the chefs who said they were absolutely, positively, by all means would be DELIGHTED to show up at our travesty of an awards ceremony–at the end of the day, only Rocco and Aaron Sanchez actually made it.Rocco had enough balls and sense of humor about himself to fly out of a snowstorm on an early flight so two miserable pricks who\’d done nothing but make fun of him over the years could have him present the \”Rocco Award\” for \”Worst Career Move\” to Tyler Florence. Tyler, we were informed at the last minute, encountered a \”problem with his calamari for the Bubble Q\” and was suddenly needed elsewhere. While on one hand, I was very grateful to Tyler for (at least initially) agreeing to subject himself to our cruel ritual disembowelment, the image of Tyler Florence personally cleaning 500 pounds of squid was difficult to summon. Particularly next to the Sysco truck.I believe Aaron (who has every reason to want to give Ruhlman a kick in the nuts–after the shameful hair-hopper face-off of Next Iron Chef) accepted on Tyler\’s behalf.
Later, an expansive Mario Batali told us of an e-mail from an FN executive, \”thanking him for NOT attending the Clogs.\” Similar stories filtered back all day. A relieved looking Tyler apologized for missing the gig when we saw him at the Bubble Q thing. \”REALLY sorry I missed it, man,\” he said. \”But maybe next year. It\’s the perfect thing for like 2 O\’ Clock in the morning–and maybe another venue.\”
He had the look of a man who just successfully dodged a bullet. And he was, of course, absolutely right about the right time and place for a loud, profane and disrespectful event as ours–only slightly better than a mob of skinheads or crackhead rodeo clowns in the eyes of family friendly outfits like FN and … Applebees.
Which is why we\’re doing it all over again today, Saturday, at FIVE PM before the general public. Just me. Ruhlman. And our filthy list of \”winners\” and Losers–minus all the flattering shit. Yesterday, was the PG version. Today? Apocalypse NOW.