TASTE Day Two (Part One): Conversation with an ‘Asshole’

Let me first answer the question that is on all of your minds: Yes, I had a burger today, despite the beating I took last night.

Tuna Cones from McCormick and Schmick's. Have to be honest: The ones at Emilio's in Santa Barbara are way better.

It was the final thing I ate before I left – a slider from Ruth’s Chris steakhouse – and it was excellent and it satisfied my craving (since I had to quit early last night).

It also reminds me I had a wonderful dinner at Ruth’s Chris when I was in Baltimore – I completely forgot to write it up. I’ll get on that at some point, but for now I am busy preparing for Tacos and Tequila after a great time this afternoon at Secrets From the Kitchen and Cellar.

I’ve got to be honest: Scott Conant really stole the show for me today. And Chopin vodka.

We’ll get to the booze, but first Mr. Conant (Chopped).

I saw him standing outside the tent before his demonstration and I introduced myself.

“Wake and Wander,” I told him, “I write about travel.”

“Nice, what’s up?”

“I’m just wondering if you are aware at how much of an asshole you appear to be on television.”

He laughed and said, “Yeah. It’s all editing.”

I told him I understand, and I told him he doesn’t seem like an asshole. I told him he seems like a legit guy in person.

Scott Conant

He thanked me and said, “Yeah, but I won’t apologize for having standards.”

Fair enough. And, apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought they had a whitty question to ask a celebrity – it was the running joke of his demonstration.

The guy had the crowd in his breast pocket, cracking jokes and having fun.

For example, during his presentation part of the tent fell behind the stage, one of the support bars, and a woman came out and said, “Scott, you almost killed me with that pole.”

Scott said, “If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that.”

It was really nice to see a chef having fun and enjoying the festival – I certainly was – and I even learned some tricks for the kitchen: The pasta water should taste like gravy, and it should not be thrown out.

Now onto the booze: Chopin Vodka.

A very friendly girl approached me and said she was the daughter of the owner of the distillery. I told her I really like Grey Goose.

Before long she had two cups of vodka in my hand, a rye and a potato, and she told me to try them and that I’d forget all about Grey Goose.

Now there is no way I could ever forget about my good friend the Goose, but I had to tell the girl – her vodka was pretty damn good. I only had a few sips of each – the rye had much more spice, although I liked the potato better – and I will certainly be purchasing a bottle when I’m back in Santa Barbara. After a bottle I think I should have an opinion, and then we’ll talk. Thanks for the drinks Alex (see you on the helicopter in Poland).

And finally the eats of the day – I must admit I enjoyed this afternoon much more than last night. The samples were small and light and reasonable (minus the burger).

I’m off to check out Tacos and Tequila. Here are a few of my favorites from today:

Hamachi (Yellowtail) Sushi Salad, from Sushi Roku.
Watermelon Cubes with Sea Salt from CHAYA.
Lamb Cigar from Cafe del Rey.


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