OK, I told you I was attending the Anthony Bordain shindig Saturday night….he and Le Bernadin chef Eric Rippert were appearing at the Hippodrome for a “Foodie Experience“. Tickets were $50 a pop….that was just for the program btw, not including the tasting stations afterwards, which would have added a significant sum to the total for the evening(and rumor on the chef underground has it they blew off the tasting and jetted out)…my friend Elise from Chesapeake Foodie and I….opted out of the food part….we had a great dinner in the Brewer’s Art bar…killer pork belly on sweet potato biscuits…but I digress.
Onstage at the Hipp…was a long sofa and a chair. Hmmmmm, that’s an interesting configuration…too much seating for two men, and I don’t think anyone’s taking a nap, so what gives? About fifteen minutes after the start time of 8pm, a guy strolls out, and introduces himself as Reagan of Mix 106.5 radio station….welcoming the crowd, ….I’ve done the intro act myself, so ok. He goes onto say that he has “been involved with this presentation from the beginning”… and then it became clear what was going on….Reagan was going to interview Bordain and Rippert onstage. Sigh(not a good sigh). A famous Band song comes to mind…”Take a load off Fannie, take a load for free“….
This is no knock on Reagan…I thought he did a pretty good job actually, so hat’s off, Reagan….but here’s the thing. It’s the lazy performer’s format. I experienced this for the first time when I went to hear author Michael Pollan(Omniviore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food) speak at Goucher College. He came out onstage, sat down and announced he was here to answer your questions…no lecture, no here’s who I am and what I think….just… you got a question I’ll answer it, otherwise we’ll all just sit here in silence and contemplate our navels for an hour….sigh(again, bad sigh). Come on Pollan…anybody can sit and answer questions, it takes a little prep work, a little thought, a little….ummmm…work, to address a crowd who has come to hear you, though surely not much thought. He “speaks” a lot so surely there must be several set lectures on file in that brain. Here’s my complaint. Not only is it lazy…it skews the whole evening to being held hostage to whatever crazy, off topic question some knucklehead has. And that can be a lot. So you never get a good overview of his thoughts on things, just the answer to whatever question has been asked. And only answering questions assumes a GREAT deal of knowledge on the part of every audience member. Guess what? They’re not all BIG FANS. Some just have kinda heard of you and would like to hear your thoughts. At least it was free.
So the same complaint somewhat held true for the Bordain/Rippert Foodie experience. It was an Q&A interview format, followed by more Q&A by audience members! Oh the joy! It’s a cheap and much too easy format(ok not cheap, $50 a ticket x 1800 people=90 grand, thank you very much). Anyone can sit and answer questions…and sure they did it in an entertaining fashion. And Reagan covered the bases, but come on, famous people. Do the prep work..give me my $50 worth…or maybe …just let us know in advance that this is what I’m gonna get. Oh, one amusing note….Bordain was admonishing workers in the kitchen to “have respect for your chef…just show up for work on time”. I’d agree…but add you might have the same respect for your audience and show up on stage at 8, not 8:15. Any questions?? Anyone??