Yesterday, I trekked to a suburban mall (GASP!) to see Tyler Florence give a food demonstration at the Macy’s in Pleasanton. Thanks to the nice people who invited me and gave me a front row seat. It was very nice having quasi-VIP status. I was really relieved not to have more VIP status because I wasn’t nearly the Tyler Florence fan that most of the people (read: suburban women) in the audience were. Anticipating bad traffic which didn’t arise (whew!), I ended up coming to the demonstration about 30 minutes ahead of time. A good thing I did, and an even better thing I got a VIP seat in the front row, because almost all the seats were taken.
So how was it? Surprisingly great. Guy Fieri needs to take notes from Tyler Florence on how to cultivate a “guy” persona without being a total douche. Tyler does a great job staying on the “guy” side of the guy/douchebag line. Tyler cemented his status as the least annoying presence on the Food Network by being knowledgeable without being snobby AND being accessible without being dumbed down. In one instance, a guy in the audience asked how he could work for Tyler and Tyler promptly gave him the name of the chef at his soon-to-be-opening restaurant in San Francisco – with a caveat the hours are long and the work is hard.
My one criticism of Tyler is how closely he sticks to his “regular guy” persona when it’s clearly BS. Case in point – the fact that EVERYTHING he does is stuff he does himself. He’s got a frickin’ empire going on that supposedly he does himself. He’s got a line of wine coming out that he mixed himself. He’s got a line of spices that he mixed himself. He tries to work on the line in his restaurants himself. Um, no. I know it’s probably a necessity to pretend that you are working in every kitchen and grinding every spice but you’re talking to a group in the Bay Area, we understand restaurants. Another case in point – He shops in grocery stores but there’s nothing with high fructose corn syrup and no soda in his house and all organic food. Um, no. If you were going to have those standards, you would spend HOURS at the grocery store reading a zillion labels.
But overall, we had fun and clearly Tyler is a smart guy who knows how to engage an audience. Here’s some facts I learned about Tyler:
- He shows the audience how to make sure things don’t stick on non-nonstick pans
- He’s got three kids who are “mouthy”
- He’s got pretty discerning tastes in restaurants
- He was a latchkey kid whose mother worked a zillion jobs to support him
- He’s very considerate to his staff and Macy’s staff.
- He’s as sunburned in person as he is on tv
- He doesn’t really care for chocolate. He likes fruit desserts better.