September 17, 2010

Interviewing Bobby Flay and Lori Loughlin at the Share our Strength/Hellmann's Event

When I got the invitation from Hellmann's to attend a cooking demonstration with Bobby Flay, I was a little hesitant at first.  Truthfully, though we do use Hellmann's, we rarely use mayonnaise at all.  But this event also kicked off a charitable initiative for Share our Strength® (a nonprofit organization devoted to ending childhood hunger) and gave me the chance to interview Iron Chef Bobby Flay and actress Lori Loughlin one-on-one.  It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

Chuck Scofield, CDO of Share our Strength was on-hand to talk about his organization.  Through its No Kid Hungry™ campaign—a national effort to end childhood hunger in America by 2015—Share Our Strength ensures children in need are enrolled in federal nutrition programs, invests in community organizations fighting hunger, teaches families how to cook healthy meals on a budget, and builds public-private partnerships to end hunger, both nationally and at the state level.

Hellmann's will donate up to $75,000 to Share our Strength based on the number of virtual sandwiches swapped using their Facebook app.  Help Share our Strength get this much needed money by sending virtual sandwiches to your Facebook friends.
Watching Bobby Flay dice, season, and zest right in front of us was really fun (he's really quick!).  And Lori Loughlin (Full House, 90210) was entertaining and completely at ease during her first live cooking demonstration.  It was also great hanging out with other bloggers like Cindy (Chubby Chinese Girl), Steve and Yvo (Feisty Foodie), Esther (Ambitious Deliciousness), Simon (Plate of the Day), and Marc (No Recipes) aka Bobby Flay's on-screen co-griller.
The first dish they made was Chicken Gyros.  He substituted yogurt for mayonnaise in creating his version of tzatziki sauce.  He made a stuffed pita, but we were served the open-faced version with the chicken on top.  I liked the crunchy cucumber texture, but my sample had too much sauce on it.
 Chicken Gyros by Bobby Flay (serves 4)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup coarsely grated seedless cucumber
3/4 cup Hellmann's® Light Mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. fresh grated lemon peel
4 whole wheat pita breads, split
Fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and patted dry
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lb. sliced rotisserie or grilled chicken

Directions:
1. Place grated cucumber on paper towel and gently squeeze dry. (Do not skip this step or you will have have a watery dressing.)
2. Combine drained cucumbers, mayonnaise garlic, lemon juice and peel in small bowl. Season, if desired, with salt and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
3. Spread a few tablespoons dressing inside each pita; add spinach leaves, tomatoes and chicken, then drizzle with additional dressing.
Next, Bobby and Lori made his Egg Salad, Cheese, and Bacon on Toasted English Muffins.  This was my favorite dish of the three (albeit a tad greasy from the melted cheese) because mustard was used in the sauce and this snack looked pretty.  After someone in the audience asked for a vegetarian option (it must have been tough watching all of the samples go by!), Chef Flay quickly whipped up this dish without bacon.
Egg Salad, Cheese, and Bacon on Toasted English Muffins by Bobby Flay (serves 4)
Ingredients:
6 large eggs
1/4 cup Hellmann's® Real Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1/4 cup thinly sliced celery
1 green onion, thinly sliced
4 slices turkey bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled (Flay mentioned he crisps his bacon in the oven)
4 slices cheddar or Swiss cheese (about 3 oz.)
4 tomato slices
4 whole wheat English muffins, split and toasted

Directions:
1. Cover eggs with cold water in small saucepan and bring just to a boil over high heat. Cook 1 minute. 
2. Remove eggs from heat, cover pan and let stand 15 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water or place in bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made 1 day in advance.
3. Combine mayonnaise, mustard, and paprika with wire whisk in medium bowl. Season, if desired, with salt and pepper. Chop eggs, then stir into mayonnaise mixture. Gently fold in celery, onion and bacon.
4. Arrange muffins on baking sheet, cut-side up, then top 4 halves with cheese. Broil just until cheese begins to melt. Add slice of tomato, and then evenly spread egg salad on cheesy muffin halves.  Top with muffin tops or served open faced.
Lastly, Bobby and Lori made Flay's version of Mini Fish Tacos.  He mentioned that the tuna could be substituted with a white fish, like halibut.  Being a fan of fish tacos, I didn't think this was anything more than a pureed tuna salad.  It was more dip/spread than meaty taco.
Mini Fish Tacos by Bobby Flay (serves 2)
1/2 cup Hellmann's® Real Mayonnaise
1/2 cup prepared salsa
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 can (6 oz.) tuna, drained and flaked
1 large green onion, thinly sliced
12 large corn tortilla chips or handful of tortilla scoops
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (though there wasn't cheese in my sample)

1. Combine mayonnaise, salsa and lime juice in medium bowl; reserve 1/2 cup. Stir tuna and green onion into remaining mayonnaise mixture just until combined. Season, if desired, with salt and pepper.
2. Arrange chips on baking pan. Top with tuna mixture, then sprinkle with cheese. Broil 1 minute or until cheese is melted. Dollop with reserved mayonnaise mixture. Garnish, if desired, with additional green onions.
(for our demonstration, the tuna mixture was simply added to each tortilla scoop and garnished with a little bit of green onion.
Now for the fun part where I get to take a picture with both Bobby Flay and Lori Loughlin!  I'm a big fan of Bobby Flay, but all I remembered was gushing to Lori about the new season of 90210 while Flay silently watched the short exchange (probably wondering in his head why someone clearly no longer in her teens was watching the show!).
The highlight of the afternoon was getting 5 minutes to privately interview both Bobby (BF) and Lori (LL).  Here's my interview:
Me:  Hi! It's nice to meet you and thank you for the chance to chat with you!  So the first thing I was wondering is what was your favorite childhood sandwich?
BF:  It's got to be Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches.
LL: Me too.  Do you remember fluffernutter?
BF:  Oh yeah. But I liked the classic PB&J. And it has to be crunchy peanut butter and berry jam.

Me: What's in your fridge right now? 
(LL deflects the question to BF, who then lists off a slew of items)
BF:  Well, Hellmann's Mayonnaise of course.
LL:  Yes, of course! (both laugh)
BF: Mustards - we've got at least 4 of them, pickled jalapenos, blood orange juice, organic milk, coconut water, water, beer...I just checked my refrigerator this morning!
Me: Oh, we have a ton of mustards too.  What do you use them for?
BF: Vinaigrette, sauces, spreads, etc.

Me: Do your children both have cafeterias in their schools? (Both nod) What do you think of school lunches?
BF: Obviously it needs to get better.  There are so many layers (bureaucracy) in place but more has to be done.
LL:  And awareness and education on a whole (on nutrition) needs to be improved.

Me: What advice do you have for parents to engage their children with food?
BF: Expose your kids to new foods. Kids are not afraid of flavor and heat (spices).
LL: Take your kids grocery shopping and let them choose something new to have incorporated in their dinner.  It's hard. I mean, one of my daughters only wants to eat white food.
Me: So trying to make colorful meals (is another piece of advice).  Farmers markets and apple picking are great too (to teach kids about real food). (Both nod)
BF: Apple picking season's almost over, isn't it?
LL:  It'll soon be pumpkin picking season.
Me: I also love those wooden toys in the shape of food that kids can pretend to slice.
LL: They break apart and then are put together with velcro?  Oh yeah, we've got them too.  My kids loved them!

Me:  (Final question). Do you write notes and leave them in your kid's lunch? If so, what do you write?
LL:  Yes, I do. I write anything from "Have a great day" to "Remember to pay attention!"  My daughter's going on her first overnight trip tomorrow, which also falls on her birthday, so I made sure to pack her duffle bag with a note, card, and gift.  But yes, I love leaving notes for them.

And then I was whisked away (so someone else could have their interview slot) with a swag (cooler) bag filled with Bobby Flay paraphernalia (cookbook, tapas plates), cheese knives, cutting board, and a jar of Hellmann's mayonnaise. 

FTC disclosure:  The cooking demonstration, food samples, and swag bag were all complimentary of Hellmann's (Unilever), but all opinions are strictly my own.   

8 comments:

  1. I would have had the Full House song in my head through the whole experience. I have it in my head now. It is such an earworm I fear it will still be in there tomorrow.

    Excellent questions you asked, Andrea!

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  2. Thanks for the kind words Mardi! They were both really nice - though at times I thought I was the third wheel in their conversation!

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  3. Thanks Conor! And now I have the FH theme song in my head too - oh no! =)

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  4. OMG I am SOOOOO envious of this opportunity! Great interview but, like Conor, I would totally have had the FH song in my head too! You've a great future ahead of you as a foodie journo!

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  5. Andrea, You get to go to the BEST events, but I almost fell over when I saw your photo. Do you recall meeting Eat Live Travel and Write and Christine from Fresh Local Best in NYC for a dinner? I thought you were the blond! I have been picturing you wrong all these months! Who was the blond?
    I am thrilled that you asked the questions about the school lunches and school lunch programs. That is what I do and that is a very personal mission of mine. I teach middle school LA and do the entire foods program for our students. I have started a catering club after school for any student any time - drop in - or regular, and we make a nutritious lunch to sell every Friday. Otherwise, kids bring their own. In Canada, there are no cafeterias in middle or elementary schools: only in high schools. And they can be really, really bad.
    :)
    Valerie

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  6. Valerie - none of us are blonde!! Christine, Andrea and I all have dark hair! Now I am curious - who was the blonde - perhaps Lauren from Healthy Delicious?

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  7. Thanks Valerie! It's funny that someone else thought that I was blond too! You must be talking about our brunch at Northern Spy (http://www.highlowfooddrink.com/2010/05/blogger-brunch-at-northern-spy-food-co.html) and if so, yes that was Lauren from Healthy Delicious!
    Growing up in Toronto, I always brought my lunch to school for the reasons you mentioned. Cheers to you on your progress in improving nutrition in schools!

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  8. Yay! I'm so proud to have inspired another foodie! =)

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