Posted by: facetothewind | November 12, 2009

Meet the foodies

Chris Kimball

Oh god! There it is again – that shit-eating grin – the beaming face of a nobody meeting a somebody. The mug of someone who has shamelessly stuck his face next to a celebrity and pointed a camera at it. Not again, Gilmore. First walking Rufus to his car and then tonight in Punta Rassa, Florida, I served as the pinch hitter photographer for my sister-in-law Cathy, who interviewed Chris Kimball from America’s Test Kitchen. Cathy writes for the local public TV and radio station’s print magazine and was dropping in on the American Public Television conference. So I tagged along to shoot a couple pix and ended up sitting with Chris for his interview and chatting about his show, what’s in his fridge and what he would make for a romantic dinner. Incidentally, cow’s feet are what’s in the fridge…he was making gelatin as part of a 12-course Victorian dinner. He talked about the 600 pounds of steer and in the basement fridge at his house. Yowza.

But Chris really isn’t a chef, as he pointed out to us – he’s the publisher of Cooks Illustrated…and a lab supervisor for the testers and chefs who obsessively try out recipes and products until they have found perfection. Chris was more typical of New Englanders – a bit stiff, but certainly willing to talk to us. Chris and I tried to find a decent location for a photo but to no avail. The sun was too harsh outside and his New England earnestness seem to choke the possibility of a smile. I watched some episodes on YouTube – he seems a lot goofier on TV than in person. Perhaps goofy can be scripted? Or maybe they inject him with some fresh maple syrup and he lights up.

After Chris’ interview, the reigning queen of foodies came in…Lidia Bastianich! She walked right past us and everyone was pointing quietly. My friend Drew is a writer for the Fort Myers News Press and idolizes Lidia, so I think he was a little shy about corraling her for an interview. Someone brought her by and introduced us.

Drew said to her, “They told me you don’t have time for an interview.” “Who said that?” she responded with incredulity. “We can talk right now. Let’s do it.” We led her to a sofa and Drew interviewed her. I got to chime in a little bit in the conversation as well. She was delightfully engaging.

Drew Lidia

Lidia is the quintessential Italian mama, not unlike the memories of my grandmother – unabashed and warm. I wanted her to make me a big plate of pasta fagioli right there. We talked about why Americans love Italians – the art, the music, the style, the sensuality of everything…and of course the food. As an Italian who loves art, cooking, singing and making my own clothes, I immediately felt a certain simpatico with the busty woman.

P1100706 2

We all ended up in the bar of the hotel for cocktails. We didn’t sit with Chris and Lidia – but I could see her arms flailing – another thing we Italians have in common: we talk with our hands.



  1. I hate you. Chris and Lidia in the same day? Good gawd. Most of my recipes when starting out as a personal chef came from Cook’s. They test everything 40 times and make it work for the American palate. Lidia just drips authentic Italian. Geez. What a double-header, Davie. Good for you.

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