As my readers know, I am passionate about real estate; I love each one of my clients and the challenges of finding the perfect solutions to each one of their real estate goals. Another thing I have a great passion for is food and this is one that both my wife and I share. One of our favorite shows is Check Please! South Florida staring Michelle Bernstein. Invariably every Monday at 7:30 will have us tuned to WPBT2 if there is a new episode to be enjoyed. My wife Lisa, kept telling me I should be on the show so eventually I visited their website and filled out the application.
I didn’t really know too much about the show, Michelle Bernstein, or what the entire process would be like and didn’t really dig further until I received the call about 2 weeks after my phone interview that I had been selected. Then I dig; I learn the show started in Chicago and that included on it’s guest list is Barack Obama (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oyTD6JGie0). I also learn the show is so popular in the Windy City that there is a waiting list with 27,000 names who want to be on the show as a guest reviewer. A few wise city’s have followed suit and now San Francisco, Miami, Kansas City and Phoenix each have their own versions. Now I am thinking what am I getting myself into?
Then I do a little digging into Michelle Bernstein who I always enjoyed watching on the show. A James Beard Award winner as Best Chef South in 2008 with multiple restaurants like Michy’s which Gourmet named one of the “Top 50 Restaurants in the Country” and tagged by Food and Wine as “Best New Restaurant 2006”. More restaurants follow; MB an open air restaurant at the Aqua Resort in Cancun, SRA Martinez in Miami’s Design District and Michelle Bernstein on Palm Beach at the incredible Omphoy Resort.
As part of the application process you select three restaurants and go into great detail as to why you think they would be a good fit for the show. This would be part of a “northern” episode of the show and my three choices were Nonna Maria’s, Captain Charlie’s Reef Grill (Food Shack had already been featured in an earlier season) and I threw in CW’s BBQ in Hobe Sound. Even through the phone interview I was pushing Nonna’s as we love their food, ambiance, the owner’s and thought the exposure would be great for their business. Then I got the call we would be reviewing CW’s and I thought what the #$@%! Don’t get me wrong CW’s is one of my favorite spots. On Friday night their smoked prime rib is unbelievable and Chris the owner is an awesome chef but you need to know CW’s. You do not go there for the ambiance, or service, and if you do not know your way around it can be confusing; it is pretty much grab a table, pour yourself a glass of water, no alcohol and cash only. Now I find out two unknowns and Michelle Bernstein are going to venture where Check Please! has never ventured with a restaurant in Martin County that if they blink they might miss and if they walk in the wrong door they are going to end up in a pawn shop! I am hoping for the best.
So the next step is in about a 10 day period to visit each of the three restaurants selected for the show, enjoy a meal and write a detailed review and have it off to the show’s producers within 24 hours of my visit. The second restaurant on my list, Captain Charlie’s was also going to be on the show as it was the pick of another reviewer and finally a cuban restaurant in West Palm Beach called Havana Restaurant. You’ll have to tune in tomorrow at 7:30 to see how it goes from there.
It seemed like it took forever but a few weeks later we were scheduled to be in Miami for filming and I had gone over each of my dining experiences multiple times, knew the cute little one liner’s I would throw at Michelle and figured we would be in and out of the studio in no time. I never even thought that I may in fact get nervous.
I am led to the “Green Room” and am the first of our group to arrive but there are two episodes being filmed that day and the first group is there. Great people and we start talking about real estate, food, you name it and new friends are made. I even learn that Michelle Bernstein was recently on Iron Chef America and emerged victorious in her battle with Bobby Flay. The rest of my group shows up and the conversation continues. These people are real foodies and the producers were present and kept reminding us that we are not to discuss anything about the restaurants or our experiences but I had already heard a couple barbs about CW’s and now I am a bit worried.
We are there for a long time; the first taping has been through make-up and will soon be filming. No sign of Michelle Bernstein just this “Green Room” and a bunch of people talking. Then someone grabs me; Tom it is your turn for make-up. Makeup? I don’t need no stinking make-up but there I go off to be powdered and pampered as they make their best attempts to make this balding, big nosed, chubby Realtor® presentable for the world of high definition TV. The make-up artist is awesome and we shoot the breeze as this is taking forever; it seems I am taking longer than the others to make presentable. I ask who is the most famous person they had “made-up” and I don’t even know who that is. Now I am getting nervous.
Finally after much powder, spray and who knows what else I am directed back to the Green Room as our final reviewer takes their spot in make-up and soon we will be behind the cameras. Now I don’t feel like talking as I don’t want to mess up any of the make-up that just took them about 30 minutes to put on. The producer reminds me this is the first season they are filming in high definition; great, just what I wanted to hear!
Finally, we are ushered through a series of halls and soon we enter the stage for Check Please! one that I had seen many times on TV even though some cosmetic changes have been completed since the previous season. It is cold, real cold, and for that I am thankful; at least I won’t be sweating. We are seated and wired as they conceal microphones and wires which takes enough time for me to finally notice all of the cameras and lights which surround us. In comes Michelle and we get started. Darn, I think I am nervous.
We were asked what kind of wine we would like but told not to drink any before the taping begins. The relaxing chat around the table that I envisioned wasn’t coming as easily as I had hoped, my cute little quips about each course at each restaurant were no longer at the tip of my tongue. Damn! Michelle asked questions, I answered them, I really do not even know what I said and am hoping for the best. I was happy to have my wine glass and halfway through the taping they stopped and filled them and I found out why. My fellow reviewer had emptied their glass! Guess I am not the only one with a little case of nerves. Tomorrow for the 1st time I will get to see how it all turns out; did I make a fool of myself, will Chris even let me back into CW’s after seeing this episode, did the make-up make me presentable, did I make a fool of myself?
I will say the entire process was a lot of fun, Michelle Bernstein is awesome and I am now a huge fan of hers and hope one day I can get to each of her restaurants, the entire staff of CheckPlease! and WPBT2 were incredible, my fellow reviewers were tremendous and I found another new restaurant to call one of my favorites. My thanks to each and every one of them for allowing me to be a part of the process! And as we chatted Michelle thanked me for bringing CW’s BBQ to them as it is exactly the type of restaurant they are looking for!
So tune in tomorrow to Channel 2 at 7:30 and see how it all turns out. For those of you not lucky enough to call southern Florida home you can access the show through this link (http://channel2.typepad.com/checkpleasefl/series.html) after the episode airs.
Wish me luck!