Just recently, I had the rare opportunity to bake cupcakes with Ted Allen, the nationally recognized food and wine connoisseur. Ted is the host of the popular primetime Food Network series “Chopped,” a frequent guest on the network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and the author of numerous books. His latest is the bestselling In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks. (You may also remember him from “Queer Eye” on Bravo.) Now, I must confess, I have never been completely comfortable cooking live with celebrities. Not that I have had tons of occasions to do so, of course. But the last time I did was pretty much a disaster. My book Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner of Champions, in which I had interviewed professional and Olympic athletes from ten different sports for their nutrition regimens, had just come out, and I was invited to create one of the athlete’s favorite dishes on Regis Philbin’s morning show. I chose to make a baked stuffed potato, a New York Giant quarterback’s favorite energy meal the night before a game. I figured, what could possibly go wrong with a dish that easy? It would be like the Giants playing a bunch of first graders.
But this was live TV and I told Regis I was very nervous. “Not to worry,” he assured me. “I’ll be really easy on you. You’ll be just fine.” However, right when the camera went on he leaned into me and whispered dramatically: “I’m expecting a lot from you. You better be good!” He was kidding, of course, but I became so nervous during the show that I accidentally knocked the potato off the counter, and it fell right on Regis’ foot, stuffing and all. I was mortified, but he and fellow guest Danny DeVito thought it was absolutely hysterical.