Last week was a wonderful series of events and appearances in my hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. Things kicked off at Margaux’s Restaurant, a family favorite of over twenty years, and the rockstar evening was marinated with family, familiar faces, Slater Slings (lavender-infused vodka, pineapple juice, candied orange, and fig simple syrup), and a few special menu items taken straight out of my cookbook. Delicious and memorable all around.
The following day my dad put me in the car with a Tin Foil Surprise and an intention of being four years early to my NPR interview. This is called being on “Slater time ” (although we’re fairly certain that it skips a generation). Despite my resistance of our spectacularly prompt arrival, our punctuality did grant us several minutes beforehand with the host, Frank Stasio, of The State of Things–the North Carolina-based show we had tricked into thinking I was important. To my surprise, Frank (who was as sincere and lovely as could be) was quite interested in my food story and seemed to have a knack for cooking himself. This worked to our advantage when my dad crossed his leg mid-conversation and accidentally revealed his blue-and-orange roast chicken dress socks. Most kids would be embarrassed, but guess who bought those for him? It was a joy to be interviewed on such a prestigious show and by such a kind human.
Listen to my “Improv in the Kitchen” interview by clicking here.
The following evening we made our way to Cary for a book signing that held very special meaning for me. In 2007, Rachael released a book called Just in Time and began a book tour to meet her fans. When my best friend Sara and I found out that she would be just 30 minutes from our college in Raleigh, we woke up at 5 AM and waited in a sea of people wrapped around a bookstore to get an autograph from one of our cooking heroes. After several hours in the freezing cold, we had almost made it to the front of the line. To move people along quickly, we were told that Rachael was no longer taking photos. “But no one will ever believe us?” I said to Sara. The person in front of us stepped aside and we were suddenly face-to-face with a beaming Rachael Ray. I panicked and realized the only thing I had to offer. “Hey Rach!” I shouted (awkward as could be). “Hey!” she yelled back at me (slightly puzzled). “I know you’re not taking photos,” I pleaded, “but if I recite the intro to 30 Minute Meals for you in five seconds flat, could my friend and I take a picture with you?” She grinned at me like maybe she knew something I didn’t. “Why don’t I just take a photo with you guys anyway?”
The above picture and story took place at the Cary Barnes & Noble in November 2007. Six years later, I would go on to enter Rachael’s Great American Cookbook Competition and beat out nearly 1,000 contestants to win the grand prize of publishing a cookbook under Rachael’s Imprint: Rachael Ray Books. Last Friday, March 25th I was back at that very same Cary Barnes & Noble. And this time–I was the one holding the sharpie.