I’m about to reveal to you all the true depths of my nerdness. I’m a Food Network junkie. I have been for years. It’s not so much the instructional stuff. I prefer more the competitive shows as well as the “cooking reality” genre. That being said, when I found out through a good friend that Restaurant Impossible would be filming here in Baton Rouge and the crew was looking for volunteers, I got ridiculously excited.
Will and I both ended up working the second day of the shoot. Luckily for us, the restaurant in question was practically across the street. We would have walked if I hadn’t needed my car to pump in (have I mentioned how tired I am of pumping?). It was some pizzeria that had been open a couple of years. I had gone once to pick up a couple of pizzas for carry-out. The main thing I remember was HOLY SHIT THEY WERE EXPENSIVE. We never went back. And that sucks, as A) I do like to support locals, and B) I like to support anything in my own neighborhood – convenience and commerce at my fingertips, you know? But $21 for a margherita pizza? That merde might fly in New York City, but not good old Red Stick. Anyway, it seems that the main problem the place had was that the owner was a legitimate yankee, and came across as downright surly (read: rude jackass) to customers. The dude was nice to me when I went in, but $21?!
I’ll be honest: going into this, I really could’ve cared less about being on TV. I’m the nerd who wanted to see how this stuff really went down behind the scenes and to meet Robert Irvine. No, I don’t think he’s hot. He’s just interesting, you know? He’s so militant. And he YELLS. But he always seems so sincere on the show – part psychologist, part dad, part businessman, part chef (duh), part contractor, part decorator. The dude just seems to do it all. Was it legit? Was it all for cameras? How did it go? I shall summarize:
- For a show that’s so established, it was remarkably chaotic. We stood around for an hour and a half doing NOTHING. Then all hell broke loose and hell loosed for the rest of the day.
- From an arts and crafts perspective, there was no plan at all for some of the projects. The first major thing I got sucked into was antiquing these huge mirrors. Essentially, you use strippers (chemical – not pole dancing) to remove the back rubberized layer. This revealed the metallic reflective layer. Everyone seemed surprised that the stripper wouldn’t take that off and that regular scrapers and sandpaper scratched glass. Will and I played a big part in trouble-shooting and Will really saved the day by running home to get some 2000 grit sandpaper he happened to have laying around. The designer (Cheryl was the one on this shoot) actually was kind of “briefed” by me before going on camera.
- Some people suck. They just suck. At least half the volunteers sat around with their thumbs up their asses all day, clearly only wanting to be on camera. There were 2 girls that attached themselves to Cheryl’s assistant and they just strutted around after her all day. It was like a Food Network production of Heathers, only instead of bows in their hair, they all had on skinny jeans and knee-high boots to go with their flat-ironed hair.
- These Food Network people work HARD. Yes, Tom the builder ran around like mad all day. Cheryl was lovely. And they were all so nice, particularly once you had been identified as a true worker-bee vs. a Heather.
- I was the biggest nerd there. I was the only one who identified Marc Summers. I was the nerd who asked to take a picture with him. He was quite kind and gracious about it.
- Robert Irvine is a cool dude. Yes, he really does yell like that. But that man works. He really does. It’s not just for the cameras. He orders everyone around, and it’s your ass if he catches you standing around.
I antiqued mirrors. I cleaned grout out of a floor (Shit, I’ve never cleaned the grout in my own floor). I scraped paint. Will had the sexier job of hanging pictures although it stressed him out. I got positively high on Goof-Off. We both were filmed a lot, so I think that, unlike the Heathers, we have a greater shot of being in the – well – shot.
Our shift was scheduled 10-5, and Oui Oui was home with my kids. By 6:00 the tables were just going in and my boobs were about to pop. I was also terribly conscious of the fact that both my kids would be getting gnarly in that lovely pre-bedtime way that kids have.
The Chef had announced early in the day that he didn’t take pictures with folks until the work was done. That’s understandable. But I had reached a point where I needed to go. I regretfully told him that we had an infant at home and needed to go, but that I had appreciated the opportunity to participate. He was very nice and agreed to stop and take a pic with us since we “had worked so, so hard.” Note: I have removed this since the show has not yet aired. But we had our pic taken with Robert, I swear.
In short, it was a really neat experience. If any of y’all out there find out that the RI crew is coming to town, it’s worth taking the day off. It’s nice to do something for others and it’s just cool to see what goes on.
Now, I’m off to take some more damn ibuprofen. Scraping paint off floors makes me hurt.