Kirbie's Cravings

Meeting Bourdain, Nigella, Samuelsson, and Ludo

Today I have a story to share. An experience I have been desperately wanting to share, but I had to keep silent until now.

About two months ago, I got to meet Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Marcus Samuelsson and Ludo Lefebvre, while they were filming ABC’s The Taste (the third season premieres this Thursday at 8/7c on ABC). There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

When I initially got the invitation, it was for a set visit of The Taste, a show which I’ve been watching since season 1, mainly because of the celebrity mentors. The details of the visit were quite vague: we would get to see the set, eat lunch with the crew. Nothing was mentioned about the mentors, but I hoped that we would at least get a glimpse. We ended up getting more than that though– we got to sit down and talk to each of them!

First, we got to walk the stage where the show is filmed. It was really fun to see the set-up, look at the kitchen stations and peek inside the pantry.

We also got to eat lunch with the crew. The best part was the homemade ice cream.

Fun fact: the contestants really only make the tasting spoons shown on the show, putting tremendous pressure on the waiters who bring the spoons to the judges. You can imagine the nightmares they have before filming days, of tripping and dropping trays of spoons.

After lunch, we got to explore the mentor’s trailers, which are designed to reflect each of their personalities. If you’ve seen the show, a lot of meeting sessions with their teams are spent on these trailer sets, and it was so interesting to see the details that went into each one. For instance, Nigella’s oyster bar even had a menu that had the prices listed in British pounds.

It was while I was exploring Bourdain’s set-up, that I had my first celebrity encounter. We were given permission to get up close and personal with the sets, and I was crouched over this table, observing the exotic fruit display, when I turned around to find Anthony Bourdain watching me. I was immediately embarrassed because even though I had permission to be there, I didn’t know if he knew that.

I don’t really remember what I said next, though I do recall squeaking out a “hi” in a voice that didn’t sound like mine at all. I remember him making a few jokes and we talked for a little bit.

After that, we were officially introduced to each of the mentors and got a chance to sit and chat with them.

Nigella was first. I had no idea what was happening when they first told us to grab a seat. When I realized she was about to walk out and sit at the table with us, and that the only free seat was next to mine, I nearly squealed out loud.

In person, Nigella is just as beautiful, articulate, and sexy as she appears on television. Next to her, I felt so awkward. Suddenly, I didn’t even know how to sit anymore! Was I supposed to cross my legs? Where was I supposed to place my arms? I felt like a baby deer trying to take its first steps. She managed to look so graceful sitting down. Oh and she smells like flowers. When she invited us to ask anything we wanted, my mind completely blanked. Luckily, other people had questions, and I just sat and listened while she casually discusssed cooking a “simple” roast chicken dinner in her hotel room as if she was describing microwaving leftovers.

Next, we talked with Anthony Bourdain and Marcus Samuelsson. I found Bourdain to be a lot more light-hearted and laid-back in person than he seems on his shows. If someone were to tell me when I started this blog that I would one day be telling Anthony Bourdain about my blog, I would have never believed it. But it happened.

Marcus Samuelsson was quite intense. I’ve watched him on various cooking shows, but didn’t know too much else about him until after this meeting. I loved how he intently listened to every word we said, like he was truly interested in what we had to say. Afterwards, I realized he has his own blog.

Ludo Lefebvre, unfortunately, didn’t have too much time for us. He was in the middle of handling complications with his restaurant, so he only had a few moments to take pictures, but I’m grateful he took the time to do that because he did seem quite stressed and his phone wouldn’t stop ringing. I’ve been wanting to try his food ever since he launched Ludo Bites, but never was lucky enough to grab a seat for the reservations which always sold out in seconds. He’s one of my favorites to watch on the show. He comes off a little intimidating, but he’s also so good, often winning the team challenges. Hopefully, one day I’ll get to try his cooking.

All in all, this was a very memorable day. I wanted to pinch myself several times to make sure it all really happened. I’m quite excited to watch the show when it airs tomorrow, especially having been on the set! As a reminder, the show premieres Thursday December 4, at 8/7c on ABC.


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24 comments on “Meeting Bourdain, Nigella, Samuelsson, and Ludo”

  1. What an amazing experience!  My appreciation and love for food stemmed from watching the Food Network, the Travel Channel, Sam the Cooking Guy, etc.  One of the chefs I watched growing up as a kid was Julia Child.  Anywho, I wouldn’t know how to function if I were in your seat.  I’d be squealing inside like a little fangirl.  

    • I love watching food shows and these mentors have been such a big influence in the food/cooking/restaurant world, so it was really crazy being able to meet them. I think I asked Mr. K to pinch me after to make sure it all really happened

  2. What an amazingly cool experience! 

  3. Wow, how neat! I’ve been a big fan of Lawson, Bourdain and Samuelsson. Thanks for sharing the story. Now I gotta tune into this season’s show knowing that they have new mentors.

    • It was such an amazing experience to get to meet them! I admire all four so much, so it was definitely surreal. If I wasn’t so tongue-tied, I would have loved to hear more of advice on writing, cooking, etc.

  4. Awesome experience!  You should have given them signed copies of your cookbook. 🙂 

    • the thought did occur to me later on after this happened. But even if I thought of it earlier, i don’t think I would have had the courage–especially with the beautiful books they’ve written

  5. SO COOL!  I would’ve  been tongue tied meeting those chefs as well, especially  Bourdain!!! Cant wait to watch the show. …

  6. OMG this is awesome!! Thank you for sharing about this super cool experience! =)

    • it was so hard not to blab earlier! I had to sign a bunch of nondisclosure agreements because they didn’t want anything leaking. so glad to finally share!

  7. So cool and so fun! Man. I wouldn’t know what to say either. I’d just sit and listen to everyone else’s questions as well. 

  8. Kirbie,
    Loved the write up on your visit to Taste. I will watch it tonight,even though Peter Pan conflicts with it  at 8pm. Why are you blocking out your face on your pictures?  You are a beautiful woman and I remember you sharing pictures of your pre-wedding with your husband and you were gorgeous. 

    • Hi Beth. Thank you for your nice comment. I don’t like to show full face photos on the blog for privacy reasons (and because I don’t like photos). If you recall, those pre-wedding photos are all side shots. Maybe I’ll change my views on this one day, but I’ve heard some scary stories from other bloggers that made me want to be cautious.

  9. Wow!  Lucky!  Being a food blogger sure is awesome!

  10. WOW. I’m speechless. How lucky and what a wonderful opportunity, Kirbie!  You deserve it. 🙂

  11. What a memorable experience! lucky you!   I must ask:  Why is the face blurred out?

  12. Holy awesomeness!! How incredible that you got to meet all these celebrity chefs and check out the set for The Taste! I watched Season 1, but hasn’t kept my attention to watch the subsequent seasons. Maybe your next step is applying to be a contestant on the show? 😉

    • I get so nervous cooking for others, I don’t think I could ever do a cooking contest show! But it was so fun to be on the set and meet these inspiring celebrities