Friday, August 5, 2011

Food Network Atlantic City Food And Wine Festival 2011: Part 2 of 3

Pin It Saturday, July 30, 2011

Guy talking to the fans in the Nero's Grill room where we were
Guy's Big Bite Brunch
Today, we had four events starting at 10:00AM. We saw the long line as we approached it around 9:40AM for Guy Fieri's Guy's Big Bite Brunch from 10:00AM – 1:00PM at the Atlantic Grill in Caesars. The line moved quickly enough and I was curious to see the seating arrangement. Last year, Guy's brunch was at Phillips Seafood and no matter where Guy was you could see him as he interacted with people.

Menu for the brunch
Tickets to this event were $85 each and unlike last year, there were no autographs or pictures with Guy, which was a major let down. I think the Atlantic Grill accommodated more people than the brunch last year. The set up of the restaurant was odd so maybe it was not feasible to do this. Guy sat with his family and posse but we were not in that room and could not see him.
 
Me holding up the menu
The set up at Atlantic Grill was not suitable for a brunch of this nature since the place has three rooms so unless Guy was in your room you could only hear what was going on and not see him. We were in Nero's Grill in the back so that was a bit upsetting. Guy Fieri did his best with his microphone, and went to all three rooms and interacted with the people. Guy was fun, charming and entertaining but I preferred the set up last year.
Guy Fieri talking to us in Nero's Grill
Guy moves so fast so it is hard to get a picture of him standing still, but I tried my best and got a few good ones. Some of the photographs of Guy close to our table and one of Guy directly speaking to me came out blurry from him moving around, but you get the idea. Guy was trying his best to visit all the rooms and I could tell he made the best of it. At one point Allen called out "Yo, Guy" since he was across the room and Guy responded "Yo, what?" and pointed right at him. Allen said, "I heard you got something going on in Dublin?" Guy responded, "How did you know about that?" Allen said, "I am from Livermore, California." Then Guy said, "You don't have to come all the way out here. We will feed you there." Everyone laughed. Then Guy told everyone a story that someone else thought he was going to open a restaurant in Dublin, Ireland, which was hilarious. Johnny Garlic's is opening in Dublin, CA, which makes this the fifth restaurant he owns.

Guy so close but it's blurry, argh
Guy went around with his photographer and signed a few things, and spoke to people at various tables. He touched my right shoulder and asked if everything was going all right with the brunch. Of course, I was in heaven and totally smitten. Guy was very kind and down to earth and spoke to us for a bit. Allen gave Guy our business card and told him I did a cookbook review of Guy Fieri Food on the blog. Guy said, "How did I do?" and Allen said, "very good." Guy asked me if I brought the cookbook and I told him I did not bring it because it was so heavy. If I had, Guy may have signed the darn thing. With his handy microphone, Guy told everyone about how heavy his cookbook was and said it could be used as an anchor for a boat. Guy also shared how expensive it was to overnight explaining during scheduled press interviews, it cost $68 to overnight each cookbook. Many cookbooks were mailed overnight to media peeps scheduled to interview him costing thousands.

Another blurry one but Guy is talking right to me
Allen asked Guy if he would take a picture and Guy said “Let the cute one in” referring to me so his photographer took a picture of us three together. As of yet photographs from this event have not been posted on Guy's official site but it will be added here when it is. (Photos from this event were never posted on Guy's site unfortunately and I sent them two emails but never got a response).

The food was delicious but plentiful. We did not eat breakfast since we knew from last year the menu would be big! As you walked in the door, you could take to your table a Bloody Mary or Mimosa. I opted for the latter and sipped it slowly since I was on an empty stomach. Our server was very nice and asked if we wanted coffee or juice but I had that one Mimosa and just water. Each table had a plethora of Breakfast Pastry's and whipped maple butter on the side. I had a yummy apple pastry. Allen said the pastry he had was very fresh and tasty. I did not try the maple butter, but Allen said it was great.

Apple pastry I had - yum!
The next dish was "Claudio’s" Buffalo Mozzarella and "Master's Farm" Jersey Fresh Tomatoes. Who is Claudio anyway? I should have asked our server. I loved the jersey tomatoes and just tasted the mozzarella and it was yummy. It seemed like enough mozzarella to put in an entire lasagna. Allen wanted more jersey tomatoes and liked this dish very much.

"Claudio's" Buffalo Mozzarella and "Master's Farm" Jersey Fresh Tomatoes
The next dish was Guy's Cajun Fettuccini Alfredo, and it was so creamy and the spices were right on. It was a perfect combination of spices and the chicken was yummy. The alfredo sauce was so good! Guy explained to all that some members of his culinary team came to meet with the Atlantic Grill chefs and worked on his recipes before the event. Guy thanked the Atlantic Grill chefs for doing a great job. Allen thought this dish was delicious and needed no additional seasoning, salt or pepper.

Guy’s Cajun Fettuccini Alfredo
"Steak And Egg" Grilled Filet Mignon, Poached Farm Egg, Homemade English Muffin, Chorizo Hollandaise was the next menu item. I was full from eating most of my pasta dish so I just took a few bites. The presentation of this dish was lovely and it tasted great. Allen thought this was amazing.

"Steak And Egg" Grilled Filet Mignon, Poached Farm Egg, Homemade English Muffin, Chorizo Hollandaise
I could not believe more food was coming. Next up was "Guy's" Baltimore Bad Boy Sandwich and Crispy Potato Flauta. I took a few bites of each and both were delicious. The flauta by itself is a meal. Allen thought the sandwich and flauta were interesting.

"Guy's" Baltimore Bad Boy Sandwich and Crispy Potato Flauta
On to some sweetness with "Guy's Big Bite" French Toast, which I tried to devour and managed to eat a quarter of. This was so yummy. Allen thought the taste was amazing and a small breakfast on its own. The final dish was Pretzel Crusted Chocolate Covered Strawberries and they were divine. Allen and I shared them.

"Guy's Big Bite" French Toast
As we exited the Atlantic Grill, we saw Guy and his crew coming out and he signed his poster downstairs and wrote, "It was off da hook." We took some pictures of the poster Guy signed and this ended the brunch.
Allen pointing to Guy's writing "It was off da hook."
The Grand Market and Italian Village
The next event was The Grand Market at Bally's Grand Ballroom, which started at 12PM and ended at 3PM. Allen and me received an invitation to attend so we chose this time slot since it was right after the brunch. I previously purchased tickets for this event for Sunday, and in Part III we showcase highlights from The Grand Market we enjoyed. We left the brunch close to 1:00PM and as we came into one of the ballrooms, we each got a nifty Go Green bag and wine glass with the Food Network and festival logo.

Both of us were full from Guy's Big Bite Brunch but we decided to go check it out and do a quick walk through. We breezed through the Italian Village and it was so crowded with people shoving and pushing their way past you. The vendors were great. We stayed for a half hour. I hope tomorrow is not this insane!

Chefs On Stage – Pat & Gina Neely

Gina and Pat Neely
Pat & Gina Neely did a cooking demonstration from 5:00-6:00pm at Circus Maximus Theater at Caesars. It was not a sold-out show but we had very good seats and a great view of the stage. Pat and Gina Neely were on stage for forty minutes and it should have been an hour. They talked to the audience more than doing a demonstration, which is what fans pay to see. I really like the Southern food Pat and Gina cook and would have liked more cooking. Just sayin' but Pat and Gina Neely were a lot of fun to watch. For most of the time on stage, the interaction with Pat and Gina was a question and answer session with the audience. Little attention was on the food they were demonstrating. The demo was an afterthought.

Gina and Pat Neely and their Sous Chef

Gina and Pat Neely and their Sous Chef
Pat and Gina spoke about their happy and long marriage and family. I heard this last year but they told the audience how they got their start on Food Network, thanks to Paula Deen and her sons Jamie and Bobby Deen. Pat and Gina also spoke about their new restaurant Neely's Barbeque Parlor, which opened recently on the upper east side of Manhattan. Pat and Gina also promoted their upcoming new cookbook The Neely’s Celebration Cookbook: Down Home Meals for Every Occasion, scheduled for a November release.

Pat and Gina smooching with the drinks they just made
We do not remember what food or cocktail the Neely's made, and I apologize for not writing it down. It was also Pat's birthday and I thought the audience should have sung "Happy Birthday" to him. I enjoyed myself and had some real good laughs. The Neely's know how to have a good time and they are adorable.

Chefs On Stage – Guy Fieri

Got a picture as the words Guy appeared on the screen right before he came on stage
Guy Fieri's cooking demonstration extravaganza was from 8:00-9:00pm at Circus Maximus Theater at Caesars. It was a nearly sold-out show and thanks to Allen buying tickets months in advance, we had seats in the third row and a killer view of the stage. Guy Fieri knows how to put on a great show that is better than a rock concert. Guy came out donning his chef attire and rocking out to Motley Crue, and he threw a bunch of aprons and t-shirts to the audience.

Guy Fieri looking at the audience
The energy Guy exudes vibes perfectly with the audience. We love the one-liners that accompany Guy's fun/crazy stories he usually never finishes since he admits he has ADD! Either way we love him. Guy's personality is captivating and he is so entertaining. Right at the start, Guy tells people to move down since there were some prime time seats in the front. There was seat-moving chaos for a few minutes and then Guy told the rest of the people to go back up since the close seats were taken. I am sure security was thrilled (not) when this happened. I thought it was funny.

Guy Fieri

Guy Fieri telling the sound guy to crank up the music
This year, none of Guy's friends like Kleetus, Dirty, or Gorilla busted out on stage. There were no surprise appearances by Robert Irvine or Marc Summers but we got a very special guest to join him as Sous Chef, his son Hunter, which was great. Guy's lovely wife Lori even came on stage with the delivery person from Guy's favorite Atlantic City sub shop, White House. Guy gave out all the subs to audience members and told them they had to share. As always, Guy's connection with the people in the audience is authentic and contagious. Guy is a show man and connects so well with people of all ages. At one point, Guy mentioned his sister Morgan who recently passed from cancer. Guy showed us the tattoo he got in her memory with the words Namaste, and talked about the meaning behind the word and how Morgan always said it. It was really touching.

Guy Fieri
One kid in the front row was heckled by Guy because he sat up front and his Mom was all the way in the back so Guy called her up and gave her half of her son's sub. Another funny moment was when Guy gave an apron to a woman that fell asleep in the front row and told her she could use it as a blanket. Guy told the audience "that was awkward," nodded his head in disbelief and said, "blanket courtesy of Guido Airlines." That was hilarious. Guido is Guy's nickname in case you didn't know. The laughs were endless and he stayed on stage well over an hour, which was cool.

Guy adding these wacky noodles to the huge martini glass where the shrimp will go

Guy and Hunter cooking
As Guy talked and answered questions from the audience Hunter helped him make a shrimp dish. Allen thought Hunter was a great Sous Chef and worked well with his father. It was impressive to see Hunter interested in cooking and knowledgeable of the ingredients. Guy and Hunter made shrimp and put in an exaggerated/large martini glass. Guy also made a Peruvian dish that has double-fried French fries as one of the main ingredients. It smelled so fantastic and the presentation was A+.

Guy and Hunter

Guy and Hunter
Guy invited finalists from this season's Next Food Network Star on stage to make Guy's Sangria Perea, and he even got them to dance a little and just hang out. Allen and I did not know until Monday when we watched the Sunday episode on DVR, that Whitney was eliminated from the competition. Oh well, Whitney was there with former finalists Alicia and Chris having fun either way. After watching it, I felt Marybeth should have been sent home not Whitney! Finalists Jeff, Susie, and Marybeth were there except for Vic. Guy told us Vic could not be here because he was with his wife and kids in Las Vegas. The contestants seemed to have a great time. On a side note, Jeff is a hottie and can shake that booty too. Meow! Allen felt having the finalists was an added bonus like having a show within a show.

Marybeth, Susie, Alicia, Jeff, Whitney
Guy had the finalists give out sangria to audience members. This went on for a bit but they had to stop since it got chaotic when tons of people ran to the front for sangria. Guy had to tell everyone to please go back to their seats and Allen tried to get a taste but did not get any. This event was the highlight of the festival for us. We had a wonderful time with Guy Fieri.

Guy telling Jeff, Susie, Chris, Marybeth and Whitney how to make the sangria
 
Guy talking to Jeff, Susie, Chris, Marybeth and Whitney about Next Food Network Star and how this is the best season yet
Guy ended by saying the obesity and diabetes epidemic in this country is terrible and families need to cook with their kids and stop eating at fast food joints. Guy also said he helped get a bill passed in California that makes Sunday an official cook with your kids day, and he encouraged we all do the same. 

Part 3 will be posted sometime this weekend!

-Sophia and Allen/Two Frys

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