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Seeing Tom, Gail and Giada at the Metro Cooking and Entertaining Show

I learned something at the recent Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show: Tom Colicchio’s and Gail Simmons’s fans are into “Top Chef”; Giada De Laurentiis’s fans are a cross between Kathy Bates in “Misery” and Oprah’s audience.

First though, the show itself. Held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, it featured exhibitors selling specialty foods, cooking demonstrations, celebrity chef appearances and samples to be had, provided you had the patience to systematically walk the exhibit floor.

My friend Liz and I had patience, making two walks, once when we first arrived, and once again near the end of the day. Much more success the second time around. The crowd had thinned some, and there seemed to be many more samples available.

We especially liked the mixes from Stone House Mixes.

And the soft pretzels from Hempzels. Yes, they’re hemp pretzels. Quite popular in Colorado, I hear.

The line for chorizo samples was long, as you’d expect. Finally made it the second time around.

This man was demonstrating a bowl that was also a built-in grater.

Most of all though, we were excited for the celebrity chef demonstrations. First up were Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons.

Cute pair those two, making dishes like seared rabbit and whipping up a couple of cocktails. At one point Giada crashed the stage and came up to cook with them.

Tom and Gail took numerous questions from the audience, most of which focused on “Top Chef”: What were your favorite dishes, what it’s like being a judge… the usual stuff you’d expect. Interesting for all us fans.

An hour later, Giada did her thing. There she is in front of what looks like a raging inferno.

She’s tiny in person, I mean really small. Extremely perky like on TV. A bit more comfortable on stage than Tom and Gail, as if she does this sort of thing all the time.

The most amusing part of her demo was the audience questions.  Liz and I just looked at each other and laughed.  Some audience members were gooingly fawning (I’m your biggest fan!).  Others bordered on creepy, like the girl who asked if she could come onstage for a hug, or the adoring and hormonal thirteen-year-old boy who may have been kick-started into puberty just from seeing Giada in person.

(Note to the boy’s mom: check under his mattress for food magazines with Giada on the cover.)

The best though was the woman who concluded her fawning by asking Giada the secret to a happy marriage. Who did she think she was talking to, Dr. Phil?

Giada was nice about it and spoke about spouses being supportive of one another.  Meanwhile, she brought a few people up on stage to help cook a shrimp bruschetta and lamb dish. Smelled and looked good.

Fun time at the show — check it out when it comes back again next year. Who knows, you might get some solid relationship advice!

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