At 12:45 p.m., 5,000 people in Chevy Court on a hot, sunny afternoon cheered the arrival on stage of the day's star performer. With a broad grin, he waved to the crowd, adjusted the dials on his instrument, turned to his accompanist and said "Let's get cookin'."
And cook he did. For an hour Bobby Flay, 'rock star' of The Food Network and big time restaurateur entertained the crowd with non-stop cooking tips, ("Cook with canola oil, save the extra virgin olive oil for dressings") anecdotes ("Whenever I say 'butter' I expect Paula Dean to show up") and answers to their questions ("I started cooking because I needed a job.")
He cautioned his followers, "Don't root for me in the "Throwdowns" (which he generally loses because they are all road games) -- root for me on "Iron Chef" (The Food Networks version of WWE).
The true level of his popularity? Probably when he quipped "Who would ever imagine 5000 people showing up to watch a guy cook pork loin?"
His stage presence was everything people wanted, and the large screen gave the crowd closeups of his work, including the plate he broke when he put it down on a hot burner -- "I like this other plate better anyway."
His energetic 'set' lasted an hour, and seemed like much less. Unlike most rock shows, there was no encore (dessert?) but within 15 minutes, there was another huge crowd of his fans waiting in line for autographs at a nearby tent. Not bad for a high school dropout ("Kids -- don't even think about it," he said rather sternly) who started cooking because he needed a job.
Herm Card is the City Eagle's poetry editor and street reporter - reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.