It was a dark and stormy night on West Broadway… sounds like the opening for a horror flick I know. This was a typical Saturday night at Lumière, the hustle and bustle of the foodies out for a night on the town… we were a destination for the person who loves well-orchestrated and creative food. Sometimes there’s even an attraction for a semi-famous television personality to pull up a stool to the bar, with her hair and make-up team ready at her side.
Tonight, we at Lumière welcomed Giada De Laurentiis (grand-daughter of famed movie producer Dino De Laurentiis) from the Food Network’s Everyday Italian, Behind the Bash and Giada’s Weekend Getaways – tonight Giada would profile an evening on her weekend getaway to Vancouver.
There was absolute pandemonium in the restaurant as the crews set up. The front doors swung open at 5:30pm, and the customers started to pour in. Dinner service started an hour before Giada even arrived! It was chaos! Camera and film equipment everywhere, and staff, such as myself, strategically planting each step while carrying an arm load of dishes to prevent tripping over camera cables in the middle of the restaurant. Horrifying.
Prior to the initial filming of the episode, Kenneth, a fellow bartender, was selected to serve Giada. He was prompted by the crew to make his signature cocktail, “Te Puke Rendezvous”. This cocktail was as beautiful as it was delicious. A fine balance of freshly muddled Kiwi fruit, from the Te Puke growing fields in northern New Zealand, Plymouth gin, simple syrup and lime juice. Giada loved it. The cocktail was a gorgeous bright green lounging in the martini flute, garnished with a simple lime wheel.
Lumière’s Chef de Cuisine, Dale Mackay decided that Giada would have the elegant and delicious Butternut Squash Risotto for her main course, one of Chef Rob Feenie’s signature dishes. Gaston, the food runner, delivers the dish immediately for Giada. At this point, French server, François, comes from the kitchen into the bar area, announces to the world that we are out of risotto, then as part of the “domino effect” of sending important information within the restaurant, I announce the news to the bar staff, and lastly to the manager on duty. Giada turns to us and says, “…can someone ask the loud French guy to come back and keep repeating ‘we are out of risotto, we are out of risotto’ over and over again into the camera? Thanks.”
Kenneth continued to serve Giada, suggesting Pastry Chef Wendy Boys’ Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut Crunch Bar. By this time, the third bartender was trapped behind the bar polishing glassware and serving regulars Ian and Michel dinner. Kenneth was working on his television debut, and then there was me. I turned around to see I had a full lounge. A deuce, a four, a deuce, a four, a deuce and a three-top. I could not believe how busy it was and all of my helpers were trapped behind the cameras.
As the film crews were wrapping up their shoot, a couple of customers were relieved. The spotlights had been shining on them for at least two and a half hours. It was like sitting under the heat lamps at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Some customers were introduced to Giada, and thrilled because of it. Their memorable dining experiences had been restored. To some, meeting Giada made the excessive noise and bright lights well worth the inconvenience of a crowded room. As for Kenneth, we congratulated him on doing a bang-up job representing the restaurant, and representing his own presence as a well-seasoned server/bartender.
Scott, one of the program’s directors, introduced me to the culinary princess once the shoot was over. Giada was pleased to meet me, and excited that my partner and I are were consumed by the passion of food. Giada inquired as to why we moved from Toronto to Vancouver, how my partner John likes Cioppino’s, the name of our catering company in Toronto, etc.
I raced home after work, anxious to regale the story of what transpired at Lumière. An exciting evening to write about. Finally I can cross Giada’s name off my “chefs to meet” list; and it’s a long one!
The episode of Giada’s Weekend Getaways featuring Lumière airs January 27 2008, 14:30 EST on the Food Network. Watch for your HNR columnist Lauren Mote all over the place, flailing with dishes, giving excellent customer service and selling monumental bottles of wine in the background…
*also see this story on Hollywood North Report