Every so often we ask some of our extended family members to blog about their experiences here at TODAY. This morning we had chef Kathleen Daelemans on the show talking tomatoes. WATCH VIDEO She is the author of the New York Times Best Seller, Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen: 200 Easy Recipes for Healthy Weight Loss and the host of Getting Thin and Loving Food with Kathleen Daelemans on PBS. Her newest book Getting Thin and Loving Food is in book stores now.
(From Kathleen Daelemans)
When I received a call from my producer inviting me to do another Kitchen segment on the Today show I did what I always do when she calls. I acted normal. And took copious notes as she outlined her ideas for the segment from beginning to end discussing at length what she’d like the viewer to walk away with. I scribbled down the types and varieties of recipes she wanted demonstrated and displayed and the number of how-to culinary tips and newsy nutritional sound bytes she wanted built into the segment.
I asked what I hoped were intelligent questions. And did my best to sound professional and like it was no big deal the Today Show’s phone number was on my caller ID! I hung up the phone and did the happy dance with my cat Fujin (God of Wind. Long story) and screamed OHMYGAWDI’VEBEENINVITEDBACKTOTHETODAYSHOW!
Being invited back to Today is my “Welcome to Hollywood”. Except there is no Simon when you arrive at 30 Rock. The entire experience is Cinderella magical from the minute your plane touches down. You’re greeted by a driver who assists you with your luggage though most of the time my driver is somebody’s grandpa which means I insist on assisting him because there are grandbabies lined up behind me, and they’re a whole lot cuter.
You are whisked to your hotel over bridges offering gorgeous skyline views of Manhattan. The kind you see in movies only better. Because in minutes you’ll be standing in Rockefeller Plaza, but before you’re being greeted by an elegant New York bellman (the kind you see in movies) your drive into the city takes you through some of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Manhattan, and if you’re lucky a shortcut through Central Park depending upon which airport you arrive at and where you’re staying. No matter the weather or time of year New York is always beautiful.
Guests are asked to arrive a day early for rehearsals though I don’t think this is true for Presidents and A-listers. At least I’ve never seen an A-lister at rehearsal and never a President. I always ask to fly in early so I can spend the whole day in the city before rehearsals, which begin at 4:00 p.m. Why not? A travel day is a travel day. If I’m going to New York I might as well be in New York.
I usually go straight to Sarabeth’s at 40 Central Park South. Sarabeth is an award-winning Chef known for her pastries. Her food is light and sunny. Very Paris and New York with a teaspoon of L.A. Just what you’re looking for right when you need it. She serves breakfast until 3:30 p.m. just for me. I mean because of the worldlier travelers.
For breakfast I always order Sarabeth’s homemade English muffins and jam and a glass of the Four Flowers Juice – a combination of freshly squeezed juices I can’t quite figure out on purpose. This trip I’m taking my niece Emily with me to see if she can crack the code.
Sometimes I have two meals at Sarabeth’s in one visit. Her salads are to cry for. The Central Park South (seafood) Cobb is worth the plane ride. Picture it - generous amounts of the finest lobster, crabmeat and gulf shrimp, avocado, crispy bacon, tomatoes, Maytag blue cheese over chopped romaine, a table for two over looking Central Park South, you and your niece Emily. I can’t wait! Thank goodness they have a kids menu.
Sometimes I get in a little shopping. Not usually because I like to stay very focused on my segments (just in case my producer is reading this which she probably isn’t because she works like five hundred million hours a week) but sometimes I do. Never to be missed are the ten-dollar manicures you can get just about anywhere. Most salons are open until 7:00 p.m. and work on a first come first serve basis. Bring a pair of flip-flops with you if you go for the pedicure too.
Even though I’ve been to NBC quite a few times I’m always totally star struck when I arrive on set for rehearsal and totally nervous. I have this annoying habit of talking too loud when I’m nervous and another really annoying habit of talking like a big old Southern Belle. Which means when I get there I greet everyone like I’m the hostess of a large ball and they’re my guests. “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Yallllllllllllll” which totally makes me look like an idiot Southern Belle savant.
It’s not a reunion. And it’s not a ball. I am not their hostess. I’m a guest. This is rehearsal. This is work. We are all working. I will not greet the entire staff at rehearsal in my loud nervous voice. I can do this. I’m a professional. I’ve done my homework. I’ve tested these recipes a zillion times over. I’ve read, read and re-read my notes. I’ve read them to my parents, to my nieces, to my neighbors and to my cat. I have no reason to be nervous.
Once rehearsal is over I like to have a light supper in my room, study my notes, get to bed by 7:00 pm and lights out by 9:00 pm. It never ever works out like this. I always have the light supper. I get to bed early but I toss and turn like kettle corn in the popper until the sun comes up.
It’s all too exciting. The familiar faces at rehearsal greeting me with the same genuine kindness, the same professional air, the same reassurances that everything will be okay and the set will be as beautiful as ever. The walk back to the hotel across the plaza. The last of the sun’s light splashing across St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s just like in the movies. A small child struggling to hold onto her mothers hand as they cross the street. The orchid show in Rockefeller Plaza. The rows and rows and rows and rows of rare orchids. People taking pictures. Children ice skating. Having the freedom, the means and the ability to work and play in one of the most beautiful cities in the world is everything you could hope, something I will continue to work for and never take for granted. Thanks Today!
Talk to the chef live at kathleendaelemans.com