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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Buns of iron

    Andi Berlinarts columnist
    Andi Berlin
    arts columnist

    I sat in the black chair with my toes on the ground, stretching my back up like a distressed meerkat to see over the hundreds of drunk middle-aged yuppies in front of me.

    “”Iron Chef Tucson”” was about to begin, but anyone just entering the room would think they were at a Chicago Bulls game instead.

    The cooking show, modeled after that infamous Food Network extravaganza that features lots of men in David Bowie space costumes running around cooking fishballs, boasted two of the city’s best gourmets and a whole militia of rowdy, intoxicated food enthusiasts.

    “”I’d like to thank our sponsor, Michelob Genuine Draft. Drink responsibly,”” said the host in a bombastic radio voice over the cornucopia of hoots and hollers. “”Also, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery!”” There was an enormous rumble followed by a deafening symphony of screams and claps. The woman in front of me even jumped up in the air like she was being saved by Jesus at an evangelical church.

    “”Now let the show begin!””

    At that moment, both of the competitors set off racing around their respective kitchen areas like popcorn in a nuclear microwave. Competitors Albert Hall and Jonathan Landeen, a bald man with possibly the bushiest and longest gray mustache I have ever seen in my life, raced around their respective kitchen areas, chopping, pouring and boiling while the back half of the crowd completely ignored them.

    “”You look great. You look great. My wife, she used to be a model … “” said the metrosexual man in a fancy leather jacket standing next to me. When he said this, the woman he was talking to cackled like a donkey getting raped.

    I turned around and noticed a hotel waitress carrying a large room service platter, searching the ballroom seats with a worried look in her eyes. The whole thing seemed ridiculous; after all, why would anyone order room service at a cooking show? But after a few minutes, it just got sad.

    Eventually, the poor lady walked over to the metro guy and placed the plate in the chair next to him. He gave her a nod, opened the silver cap to reveal a hamburger and fries and then casually stuffed the tiny convenience mustard jar in his pocket.

    The radio host was still blabbering away, asking audience members if anyone had questions for the chefs while they were speeding away. He walked into the audience, and an enthusiastic brown-haired guy jumped up and started waving his hands to get attention. The radio host stared right at him, and then turned his head and walked in the other direction to a middle-aged lady with a low-cut blouse.

    I had to go to the bathroom, so I walked outside and noticed a gigantic jar of nutmeg seeds with a sign that said, “”Guess how many nutmegs there are and win a year’s supply of Peppercorn!”” I couldn’t resist, so I guessed 802 and then proceeded on with my business.

    When I got back into the room, the announcer was asking the chefs to trash-talk each other for the audience. Jonathon jokingly replied, “”When I win this thing, you’re buying the beers tonight.””

    “”And you can drink those beers at the Michelob bar!”” the announcer interrupted. He disappeared for a minute, and came back with a packaged assortment of spice jars from none other than the peppercorn company. “”Whoever can answer this question gets this spice pack!”” he said.

    After he asked the question (which was inaudible with the racket going on around me), the same brown-haired man jumped up and flung his hand around in anticipation.

    “”You!”” the announcer said, pointing at a woman sitting near him. Then he flung the packet through the air like a beach ball.

    “”Four minutes, four minutes,”” he announced, like those guys do before the basketball quarter is over.

    The chefs continued racing around, and I noticed a fight in front of me for a space by the TV. A group of leather-booted hooligans had stepped in front of a cadre of rich women who were spilling their drinks around. One of the women stumbled over to the impending group, and tried to hit one of them in the back. Hardly noticing, the “”punk”” gave her a dirty look and moved to the back of the room.

    The cooking portion of the contest was over, and now the chefs were asked to explain their dishes in front of a pool of judges. The secret ingredient was duck, so both contestants had to put the meat in all three of their extravagant but probably delicious dishes.

    “”I put a little Michelob in the batter cause if word got back to Bud, there might be a little something in it for me,”” Jonathan joked.

    After the judges ate the food and tallied the scores, the two chefs stood together and the winner was announced. When Albert’s name echoed across the walls of the ballroom, almost 30 people rushed the stage, burying him beneath a sea of fanatical bodies and screams.

    Another 30 people instantly straightened their postures like robots that had just been plugged in and raced out the door to their parking spots.

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