Thanks to my friend Nicole who works for an advertising agency here in Springfield and had tickets to the event (ever heard of Plugra butter? she's their PR gal) so I got to tag along and pretend like I was all rich and fancy for a weekend. I ate really good food, drank wine and champagne like it was going out of style, and even got a tiny hint of a tan. It was about as much excitement as this Missouri girl could handle.
Ok, get ready for a barrage of photos of me grinning like a 12 year old school girl:
My friend Nicole, the dreams-do-come-true maker
Walking towards the huge tent that was the Bubble Q party (barbecue and champagne)
Teeny tiny Iron Chef Cat Cora
Rick Bayless. Le sigh.
Let Them Eat Cake Party
Ace of Cakes!
Geoff of Ace of Cakes, my fave person on the show.
I was third in line for Giada to sign my cookbook. She was adorable and as sweet as could be.
Shrimp and grits under one of the Grand Tasting tents
Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Beach Party
Claire Robinson of Five Ingredient Fix
The Grand Tasting Village, before the masses of people
The legend himself, Anthony Bourdain. I don't think he was very excited about signing cookbooks.
Did I really get to do that? I also saw cooking demos by Jamie Oliver (!), Bobby Flay, sailor mouth Bethenney Frankel, a slightly belligerent Paula Deen, and Tyler Florence. I can't say that the food they made blew my mind but they were incredibly entertaining. One of the standouts was Claire Robinson's blood orange cake made with only! five! ingredients! If you haven't seen her show, you should really check it out. She's super charming and I love the philosophy behind simple recipes.
So, in conclusion: beach + sun + food + wine + celebrity chefs = HEAVEN.