The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 18 - February 2, 2011


A culinary Super Bowl

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Roy Yamaguchi's dish had 12 distinct and separate
flavor items on the plate.

Next Sunday football fans will be cheering sacks and runbacks and passes. They will be hoping for a spectacular finish – a long bomb on the last play of the game, a field goal attempt from 50 yards out.

For a restaurant brat like me the Super Bowl was last week.

If restaurant world could be reduced to one big game – it was the feature dinner of last week's Culinary Winter Carnival. We had recruited the best players in the Southeast: Chef Brian Landry, of Galatoire's in New Orleans; Chef Kevin Rathbun, of Atlanta; Chef Marty Blitz, of Tampa; and Chef Ray Arpke, of Longboat Key.

The dinner's big draw was the world-famous chef rock star, Roy Yamaguchi.

About three hours before every one started to arrive in town I had an epiphany.

I had invited some of the best chefs in the world to dinner. I better not screw up.

My stomach rolled over and stayed there.

Let me describe that evening's playing field for you.

Each chef was preparing one course of a six course meal which was to be presented banquet-style.

In regular restaurant service, the fish guy cooks the fish, the steak guy cooks the steak and the plates are given to the waiter to serve.

In banquet-style service everybody gets the same thing. Offerings are prepared in large batches and held in banks of ovens, warmers and timers until they are plated.

The plates are moved down a line – usually a long table. Every element of the dish to be served is carefully and strategically placed on the plate as it moves down the table.

I'm generally the "parsley guy". I get to see the whole plate, put on the parsley, or garnish, and tell the waiter to go like hell.

That night it was like a line-up of thoroughbreds in the starting gate. Everything was cooked perfectly, and then reined in, culinary power in restraint, and then I got to say, "Go."

Each chef was responsible for presenting his course with plating assistance from the others. Dish after dish rolled off the line flawlessly – one plate as perfect as the next. After less than an hour, we had moved through four courses, 130 guests, 420 plates. The guests were astounded at the quality of the preparations.

Roy Yamaguchi was last. The level of expectation had been rising all evening.

A hundred and thirty people had just had some of the best food of their lives, and now it was Roy's turn.

The courses thus far that evening had been relatively complex, each with four or five elements to assemble. Generally banquet menus are very simple – everybody gets the salad, everybody gets the macaroni.

There was nothing simple about Roy's dish. There were 12 distinct and separate flavor items on the plate. As banquet presentations go, it was a double back flip off the high board with two-and-half twists.

He first hung pictures along the line so the chefs would know what everything was supposed to look like. He guided the preparations to their places in the starting gate, looked over the table, and just nodded. We were off.

The chef team carefully placed 12 items on each plate: perfectly prepared medium rare, sous vide of Colorado lamb, English peas, a leaf of Brussels sprout, a braised wild mushroom, a baby carrot, olive loaf bread pudding, eggplant mouse, and five separate sauces and garnishes. Everything was plated with reverence. There was an atmosphere of perfect serenity and silence. It was a symphony of movement, flavors and color.

As Roy's plates were served, there was a universal "Wow." Everyone knew there was a star quarterback in the game.

Roy walked out into the room and the guests erupted in a storm of applause.

A magnificent performance, grateful fans and we raised a bunch of money to help repair little kids' hearts.

It was a culinary Super Bowl.

Next Sunday I will be sitting in front of the tube with my nachos and chili like everybody else, but my Super Bowl was a week ago, and Roy Yamaguchi was the MVP.

Diet and wellness program changes lives

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND Susan Anderson, who
lost 20 pounds in two months, shows a shake
and some of the food offered in the program.

ANNA MARIA –Men and women on the Island are shrinking at a rapid rate, and they say it’s all Mary’s fault.

Mary Selby, of Anna Maria, has introduced friends and neighbors to the Take Shape for Life program featuring Medifast meals, and they are losing pounds effortlessly and getting healthier in the process. Now the program is being offered at the Island Community Center.

Selby said she first heard about the program while getting a facial at the beauty shop two years ago.

“I saw the salon owner and she looked fabulous,” Selby recalled. “I asked her how she did it, and she told me about the program.

“I’d been trying to lose 10 pounds for about six years. I asked her if I could lose 10 pounds in 12 days because I was going on vacation, and she said I probably could.”

Program participants purchase Medifast meals, which are individually portioned, calorie and carbohydrate controlled and low fat. Selby said it takes five days to get the food, so her friend shared food until Selby’s arrived, and within 12 days, she had lost 9 pounds.

“I felt like a million bucks and I had energy,” Selby exclaimed. “There’s no drugs or chemicals. The key is eating six times a day.”

Six meals a day

Susan Anderson, of Holmes Beach is another convert and explained that participants eat five Medifast meals a day and one lean and green meal of their choice, which consists of a portion of lean meat and a salad or steamed vegetables.

“You eat every three hours and drink six to eight glasses of water,” Anderson explained. “They say to eat every meal because it’s important. The meals are 100 calories each and full of nutrients. They are very filling."

Anderson said participants work with a coach and set a goal of how much weight they want to lose. She met her goal of 20 pounds in two months and is now on the transitional diet, in which participants gradually increase their calorie intake and variety of foods.

“It’s great,” Anderson said. “It works, and everybody that’s done it raves about it.”

Selby, who is now a coach, explained, “I became a coach because I thought I could really help my friends. A coach is personal assistant. You meet with the person, explain the program, learn their situation and goals and how interactive they want to be.”

Center offers program

Sandee Pruett, the Center’s adult program coordinator, said Selby approached Executive Director Pierrette Kelly about the program because it promotes a healthy lifestyle, which is one of the Center’s goals, and it would generate revenue for the Center.

Six people have joined the Center’s program since its introduction in January, including Pruett and her partner, Mark Kimball. Pruett says she has lost 11 pounds and Kimball has lost 12.

“I’ve been on diets my whole life, and this is the only one where I’ve seen instant results,” Pruett said. “It’s eating healthy and being aware of what works for you. It makes me feel good about getting up.”

Pruett said besides getting instant results and being easy to follow, the diet is portable because you can take the crunch bars with you if you are in a hurry. The meals can be ordered from your coach or the Center’s website and are sent directly to your home.

To join the program or for more information, call Pruett at 778-1908, ext. 0.

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