Like the title says! I went up to Toronto in late 2016 to guest judge on Top Chef Canada All-Stars. It was a blast. Up at 4:30am, make-up, hair... as you can imagine, styling my hair took hours. An earpiece in one ear with producers talking at me, my hearing aid feeding back in the other ear, and a spoon glued into my hand. The episode aired in February (I think) 2017 so I figure by this time I'm not going to be letting out any spoilers.
One of the things I enjoyed most was introducing hostess Eden Grinshpan to my (and most other pro ice cream eaters) taste-testing technique. Interested?
1 sleeve unsalted Saltines (oxymoron but yes, they exist)
1 pitcher slightly-warmer than room temperature drinking water
1 drinking glass
1 spit bucket
In order to taste each sample with the same sensory input from your mouth you need to follow a few steps. After each bite, do the following.
1. DON'T SWALLOW. A cold palate is not your friend. The colder your tongue gets, the less powerful tastes become. Spit the ice cream out.
2. SCRATCH THE FAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. Eat a saltine and let it scrape at your tongue and mouth. You need to remove the layer of fat that a bite of ice cream will leave coating your mouth. Again, you want to taste each bite with the same baseline senses so you need to de-fat your mouth for each bite. A coated tongue is less sensitive.
3. SWISH IT. Use warmish water to bring your mouth back up to your baseline temperature.
Be mindful of your choice of spoon. Plastic can be a taste of it's own. I'm good with a decent metal spoon. Some people like wooden tasting spoons.
I seriously have a titanium spork... maybe I'll take that along next time.
I took a bunch of photos that morning but they all seem to be lost. Bummer. In case you're interested, here's how the shoot progressed.
Arrive Toronto 10pm, car to hotel, wake at 4:30, car to studio. Get pretty and meet the producers and of course chat with Eden, the host of the show.
1. Before any contestants are called to set, film the walk-in several times. Some takes with Eden, some without- just me strolling down along and trying to act as though I'm being greeted while checking out the invisible contestants.
2. Do the opening "monologue" a few times for the cameras. Producers chime in through my ear to help me tighten up the speech and to help make sure I cover all the bases they need hit.
3. Go hide from the incoming contestants.
4. Listen to contestants film the opening of the show and cackle silently as they discover the horror of what's to come.
5. Do the walk-in with the contestants in place (a few times).
6. Do the opening monologue again. There's a weird edit when I suddenly blurt out "I've made beet soft-serve." It was in some other context... no big deal, obviously, and wouldn't strike anyone as odd but it made me wince.
7. Film "TIME STARTS NOW" a half-dozen times. My fingers got gayer each take. Note this when you view.
8. Leave the set- head back to watch the camera feeds and eat breakfast while the contestants start cooking.
9. Walk around the kitchen set with Eden and look at the delicacies and horrors that are in creation.
10. Back to watch the camera feeds. I yelled at the monitors a lot because they were doing everything backwards and inside out (according to me).
11. Time's up. Go eat everything with Eden.
12. Say some stuff that's so bitchy it gets completely cut.
13. Have a weird seemingly one-sided conversation with the producers... they can hear me whispering questions at them through my lavaliere microphone and they reply comes through my earpiece. Get a few facts straight then let them know who I've chosen to win.
14. Film bitchy evaluation of each dish.
15. Annouce the winner a few times. Enjoy the contestants having to act surprised even though they know they've lost.
16. Grab a soda, change, get in a car with a production assistant.
17. Make the car stop at a pharmacy so I can pick up some Tylenol + Codeine.
18. Airport. Bye Toronto! Next time hopefully I'm there more than 20 hours.
It was really a great time. Big thanks to Insight Productions, Lisa S, Eden and all the folks on the set. ALSO thank you to the hair stylist who slapped some pomade on my head then gave me a 5 minute back rub because he felt like he need to do *something* for me. The best!
I'm still laughing about "Connie's Corn Surprise"...