August 29th, 2017
I was asked to meet at the Juan Valdez Cafe in Downtown Miami. An hour before the meeting, the producer changed the location to a Starbucks. I’m usually skeptical of every situation until I have a reason to think otherwise. By the time I arrived at the coffee shop, given I’d only met the producers over the phone, I was looking for signs that would set off my radar.
In walked Julia, the second producer I’d spoken to leading up to film day. Wearing a long sundress, loose curls, and no make-up. She apologized for looking a bit tired; she’d been to the Coldplay concert the night before. Soft-spoken and mild-mannered, we spoke for about a half hour. She gave me $140 in cash as a fee for my upcoming interview. We discussed the current weather, her life, more about mine, and of course…food.
She casually pulled out a newspaper clipping about the chef I’d soon be meeting. “Here’s a write-up about the chef. I want you to know his story and not fear him. He really is great and passionate about this project, and we are so excited to work with him” she casually said. Fear him? Why would I fear him? I briefly read the clipping. He’d been in prison and had a rough upbringing. Chef Gordon Ramsay changed his life and he hoped to achieve the golden Michelin Guide dream one day: a three-starred restaurant.
I’m a sucker for a comeback story and felt optimistic about the experience. Turns out I ended up just being a sucker, kind of. I was then shown a video where Gordon Ramsay actually endorsed this chef. If memory serves me right, the chef’s name was Richard. OK, feeling more and more confident as this went on. “Where are we filming?” I asked. When she mentioned we’d be filming at local reputable gem Zest Miami restaurant, I completely let my guard down. Surely, nothing would be shady if it involved filming there. Now I was officially pumped. An afternoon dining with a new promising chef with Michelin dreams? Totally my thing!
We finally walked from Starbucks to the restaurant. There, I was miked and given brief instructions as to what to expect. Walk in, wait until the chef comes out, and expect some delays between courses. Oh, by the way, “I know we told you, you’d be dining with a very small group. Instead, you will be dining by yourself. The producers really loved you and wanted to capture your interaction alone with the chef. Is that OK?” After a brief WTF moment, I recovered. Easy peasy. I’m comfortable in front of a camera and eating. What could go wrong?
I walked into Zest and took in the beautiful interiors. To my right, three men stood with cameras in tow and another one with just sound equipment. The producer, TJ, instructed me to wait for the chef’s appearance. After about ten seconds, an extremely tall man (certainly over 6′ tall) came out to greet me. Bald, goatee, tattoos everywhere, a speech impediment, and an English accent. This might be challenging, I initially thought. I can see why Julia thought I’d fear him. At first look, I did feel intimidated, but his weak handshake and meek demeanor made me feel at ease.
All good. And action!
- BACK TO:
- FORWARD TO:
Chapter 3: Amuse Bouche 1, 2, & 3
Chapter 4: The First Blow & Some Fish Tales
Chapter 5: Shit Show
Chapter 6: I Eat Dead People
Chapter 7: The Shit Hit the
Chapter 8: The Review
Chapter 9: Final Thoughts