a peek inside the fishbowl

22 May, 2008

One of my most embarrassing moments ever? Only time will tell.

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

Sunday was a very very long day.There was no sleeping in. Mark made Emma a belated birthday breakfast in bed (it’s a tradition around here) and I was scheduled to attend a day-long garage sale that wasn’t really a garage sale.

Awhile back I was contacted by the folks at Road Grill. Road Grill is a locally-produced television show (by Knight TV) that is broadcast on the Food Network. It’s a cooking show, more specifically, a BBQ show which (if I had to hazard a guess) is aimed almost entirely at men.

The ingredients are all there: one tough guy/ex-footballer host, three young ladies as co-hosts (great gals, actually, who float cheerily in the background and ironically do the bulk of the BBQing and meal prep), lots of meat, and several big honkin’ grills.

Man, meat, fire, girls. That’s the show. ;)

The night before the taping I watched a snippet of the show on the production company’s website. Mark was half-listening as I watched.

“Who is that guy?” he asked.
I dunno. Just some guy. The host of the show I’m going to tomorrow.”

I later read up on him. Ah ha. Now it made sense. He is Matt Dunigan, a fellow, it seems, who is known by 90% of the people I’ve spoken to since then. A legendary football hero, which is why I was totally out of the loop.

The premise of the show is this: the Road Grill team sets up their huge outdoor kitchens at various community events and cooks up a storm of backyard-style eatin’.

The travelling-to-different-community-events concept works for them in number of ways. It gives them a built-in (not to mention hungry) audience and it gives them some variety in their settings. i.e. “We’re here today at a community garage sale, the best place to get rid of the junk in your basement and or find some hidden treasures…  or “We’re here today at Bruce Pit, where the walkers rule and the dogs drool…”

Every intro is different, and I think, it makes it more interesting than traditional cooking shows that are always located in the same old place.

The garage sale in which I was participating was set up for the benefit of the show. It was fake, but not entirely so. I was with my local community association. We had a table, most of which was comprised of junk I had weeded out of my basement the week prior. We were dying to sell, mostly because we seriously need to raise some money to cover our operating costs.

I think many potential customers were scared off by the gigantic set that was a few metres away from our tables. Sales were slow. So slow that I had nothing to do but participate in the taping of the show.

Have you ever been to the taping of a television show? You have no idea how long it all takes. Good god. It was TOUGH to be an extra on the set. First of all, we were always downwind of the BBQs, our noses tuned to the mouth-watering smells emanating from them. They were grilling something all day long. And we stood there, watching hungrily, as all of this delicious food was being prepared right in front of us.

On the menu (and each of these was taped as a separate little segment):

* Porterhouse steaks bigger than my head and nearly 3 inches thick. I don’t even want to think about how many cows sacrificed their lives for this particular show.
* Prosciutto-wrapped scallops on a skewer
* Twice-baked potatoes, stuffed with a mixture of crab and ?
* Grilled Caesar salad

The show is 22 minutes long but it took all day to tape – and they rushed it because of a threat of rain. We were there from 8:00 a.m. to about 5:00 p.m. The crew was there for much longer, both in the morning and the afternoon.

Anyway, it was torture, standing there, wiping away the drool while all this food was being made.

Going into this I secretly pledged that I would not be caught eating on camera. This is one of my Worst Media Fears – and I’ve experienced a few before, like having dental work done (check!) and being heavily medicated due to a bad cold (check!) right before being interviewed live on the radio, but eating on camera, oh lord, that’s the worst. And I knew it was coming. I knew it, why? Because having someone stuffing their face makes for good television.

The porterhouse segment was the first to be taped. The porterhouse steaks had giant t-bones in the middle of them. The steaks were BBQd. The three co-chefs cut the meat off to serve it on giant platters.

Would you like the t-bone?” I heard one of them ask behind me. There’s plenty of good meat still on it!”

I turned around. The t-bone was so large that I was immediately reminded of that scene in the Flintstones when Fred gets some huge dino-ribs at the drive-in restaurant. Remember? They’re so big they tip over the car? This was a dino-sized t-bone. Thankfully, it wasn’t being offered to me. It was being offered to a pretty girl, say, 10 years younger than me. She took it. I was surprised, I don’t know why but she didn’t look like the type to want to eat meat right off the bone.

I turned away, then turned back a few moments later, only to see a camera man sneaking up on her while she gnawed on the t-bone, which, may I remind you, was approximately the width of her face. She didn’t know she was being filmed until the camera was right in front of her.

I stayed out of the way and then handed her a napkin. Poor thing.

Those TV people will do anything for a good shot. And that includes tempting pretty young things with juicy bones!

(You know I’m not angry or annoyed right? I am laughing as I write this. I have a husband in TV after all!)

Anyway, I thought I was so smart. I was going to watch, applaud when asked, eat when asked, and avoid any close ups entirely. You think my plan worked? NO siree, it did not.

The second segment was the scallops. OMG. They were amazing. The recipe was so easy. (Do you think I’m going to get in trouble if I posted it here?) They took a bunch of monster-sized scallops, patted them dry, and wrapped them in prosciutto (which is BRILLIANT because bacon would be too fatty and thick for this recipe) and threaded them on wooden skewers (soaked for 30 minutes to prevent burning) alternating them with lemon wedges. Before they put them on the grill they sprinkled them with chopped garlic and salt and pepper.

Oh, they smelled delicious. And we stood there, for what seemed like forever while the taping went on. And on. And on. Finally, it was time for the audience to Eat That What Had Been Cooked. As luck would have it a skewer found its way into my hand and I chowed down. (I was starving!) Ah, but I was much too focused, like some poor greedy wench who’d stolen a chest full of treasure and was too busy admiring her newfound wealth to notice the authorities descending upon her.

So there I was, eating WITH MY HANDS, totally in my own zone, when the host of the show suddenly appeared beside me. He started to chat with me. Were the cameras rolling? DON’T DOUBT IT FOR A SECOND. Of course they were. This is how television works people. Hosts don’t just go around chatting with unsuspecting audience members for nothing. He offered me another scallop. I couldn’t say no. And here is the absolutely ridiculous perfectly made-for-TV part that I KNOW WILL BE AIRING IN 91 COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD.


Let me rephrase that. A beefy ex-quarterback gave me a scallop, which we CLINKED and then stuck them into our mouths, whole. (At least I did.) Did the camera get me chewing? Probably. Was there something stuck in my teeth? I bet there was.


Dear food-show watching people in 91 countries around the world, I am a normal well-adjusted human being. Really.

The rest of the taping wasn’t that eventful. I did not want to be in the middle of a shot like that again so I skulked around the set and stayed in behind. I sat out most of the potato segment.

I did learn a whole whack of BBQing tips. The host was super-knowledgeable in this area. I might even be ready to take over our family grill, that is, if Mark will still light it for me. I am deathly afraid of losing my eyebrows to sudden explosions.

The Grilled Caesar was a total revelation to me and I’m a total convert to the joys of grilled romaine with authentic raw egg/garlic/olive oil dressing. We’ve made it twice since Sunday. It’s delish.

Anyway, I was really impressed by the Road Grill crew. They were an incredibly nice group of people, working really hard – and when you think about it – under pretty stressful circumstances. The production side of things is pretty exciting. (I wonder if they’re looking for a staff writer? Hmm.)

Anyway, we wrapped up around 5:00. Mark and the girls came to help pack up the remainder (there was a lot left) of the garage sale stuff which he kindly dropped off at the Salvation Army. I didn’t come home empty-handed in that department. I bought an Ikea shelf (identical to this one) for 50 cents, a book (um, that I later discovered I had already read, doh!) and a classic/retro egg beater.

All in all, a very good, but very long, day.

The show is supposed to air in August and it’ll be on rotation for the rest of the summer. Please just avert your eyes during the scallop segment, okay?

p.s. here are some of the recipes from the show. Some keepers in there for sure.

6 Responses to "One of my most embarrassing moments ever? Only time will tell."

1 | Chantal

May 22nd, 2008 at 10:20 am


Clinked scallops LOL I love it.

2 | Ginger

May 22nd, 2008 at 4:48 pm


Oh I can’t wait to see it! We love the food network. I can point to the screen and tell my cat, “Hey! I know her…well…just through the internet.” Plus I will mostly likely be on bed rest most of August so now I have something to look forward to! I am sure that you were great!

3 | Mama V

May 23rd, 2008 at 7:21 am


I’m sure it’s not nearly as bad as you picture it to be :) It’s like hearing your voice on tape – i always think I sound like a muppet underwater.

ANYHOO…. speaking of grilling and bbqing and Presiden’ts choice… have you tried the new Korean style bbq ribs? oh. my. god.
to die for. Seriously. Just seeing the pictures on the commercial makes my mouth water uncontrollably. I’m sure the girls would love them too – my kids would eat them every day if they had the opportunity!

4 | Marla

May 23rd, 2008 at 8:49 am


Hey! I have never seen that Ikea shelf – I’d love one! What’s it named? I must know!

(i also must eat pancetta wrapped scallops, but that takes more planning)

5 | andrea

May 23rd, 2008 at 8:56 am


Ikea things have names???

(Heh. I have no idea. But I bet it has an umlaut in it.)

6 | Frank

May 26th, 2008 at 4:25 am


Matt is a God walking amoung men!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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