On the Food Network, there is a show called “Will Work for Food” starring Adam Gertler. Earlier this year, there was an episode where Adam went to Benihana and had a chance to get training from a Master Chef on the Teppanyaki Grill. He then cooked a meal for his instructor. I watched that episode with my wife and two kids and we all thought that was totally cool. We then talked about how cool it would be if we got a chance to do that exact thing.
Now, skip forward a few months …
During the Father’s Day time period, Benihana was offering a package that allowed anyone to Be The Chef at Benihana. The package included a shrimp and steak dinner with dessert included for your party. The “Guest” would receive the following:
My family thought it would be a nice Father’s Day gift for me so my wife purchased the package for me.
I was totally stoked that I was going to get my wish!!! SO TOTALLY KEWL!
I’m no professional chef by any means, but boy, do I enjoy cooking (and eating!). Here’s a quick recap of my experience.
I was a bit nervous when I went in for my training session where I spent about 45 – 60 minutes with my Master Chef Instructor, Tim. The first part of the training session was watching and paying attention to Tim while he walked through the entire process of cooking one meal. Tim pointed out key items of the preparation, cooking and entertaining process. I did my best to pay attention while taking some notes. After I watched and learned, it was my turn to cook a meal while Tim guided me. With one last glance at my notes, I stepped in front of the grill and did my best. Since the technique was new to me, I concentrated on getting the steps correct (cutting, slicing, mixing, etc.). When I did that, I forgot to entertain. When I focused on talking and entertaining, I would screw up on my cooking. Argh! With Tim’s help, I did finally get through my training session and was pretty happy with the outcome. I then took the two meals home (the one Tim prepared and the one I prepared). I had my family try the food when I got home (I did not tell them which container of food was mine versus Tim’s). Based on just the taste of the food, they really couldn’t tell the difference. Upon closer examination, they were able to see the difference in the way the meat was cut and such so from a presentation style, they were able to tell. Plus, some of my food was a little “darker” (but still tasty). :-)
On Thursday, July 23rd, (with tripod and camcorder in hand) my family and I went to Benihana to let me cook a wonderful meal for them. I wish I could say, I performed flawlessly, but alas, I cannot. Once I started going, I kinda forgot what I was doing. You would think I had never stood in front of a crowd and delivered a presentation (demo) before. Rather than try to describe what took place, I thought I would just show you. Even though I may not have done the best, I had a blast and really enjoyed the experience. I’m hoping Benihana will offer this package again next year ‘cause I want a chance to redeem myself!!!
My wife was able to record the entire experience and I went ahead and rendered the video. Please be kind and not laugh too much at me as this was my first time doing this.
After this experience, I have a new found respect for the truly great Teppanyaki Chefs that I have encountered over the years. To cook a great meal and keep the guests entertained during the entire process is not as easy as it seems. This truly takes great skill – both from a cooking perspective and an entertaining perspective.
I first rendered the video in a high fidelity format (3 Mbps with 5.1 Audio) which produced a 470 MB file. I figured I better render one at a lower rate (512 Kbps) for those who have a slightly slower Internet connection. This still produced a 75 MB file. Either way, I am including both versions in this post via a Silverlight wrapper.
Here’s the High Resolution version:
Here’s the Low Resolution version: