Recently me and Shannon did a show with the Food Network, she had worked hard most of this summer setting the lines of communication with these folks from the Big Apple. New York is a foreign country to me as mine is probably to them. After enough conversations to rival even the Watergate trials, it was finally set up and the date was set. We were told they were filming this special on chicken fried steak, called Chuckwagon Cuisine.
Well these folks showed up on a Monday and we started filming on Wednesday of that week. Getting a schedule from these folks was like pulling teeth from a beaver… but I like a challenge and it finally did all come together.
They started off with half a day filming in a kitchen. And let me tell you folks, in a kitchen with all them fancy gadgets like knobs and cuisenart products is like building a fire without wood… it just don’t seem right!
But I learned that there are three things that can get you through any problem and those are the 3 P’s: Patience, perseverance and perspiration. So we started out preparing this one chicken fried steak. Just one my gosh, that presented a problem for me. I’m used to cooking two or three times 1oo. What was I going to do with all my spare time?
After numerous retakes and getting the sound just right we finally had one chicken fried steak done. Then its time to make grav. Now I can make gravy for 300, but to make gravy that compliments one steak, now that’s a problem.
But with the only recipe I know for making gravy and that is flour milk and grease, I had the right amount. Just as I was about to pour it they yelled CUT!
“You need to pour it from a gravy boat,” they said.
Are you out of your mind?! I thought.
When was the last time you saw a cowboy using a gravy boat? Never. That’s right! And never will you see me using a gravy boat!
The poor ole feller who apparently searched all over New York City for this gravy boat was a little hurt- but that wasn’t going to happen at my wagon, I promise ya.
Well after 3 hours of what they called beauty shots, I needed a shot of something. So we headed for the wagon, my kitchen a place I feel the most comfortable in cooking with ole “Bertha” and commenced to do it all again. Did they think I needed the practice? My garsh I have cooked thousands of chicken fried steaks in the last twenty years. But I bit my tongue and did what they asked.
Day one was finished. The next the production assistant called me said I they would start filming at 10am and for me to come a few minutes earlier to turn on the fire. Now folks in my kitchen there ain’t no knobs to turn on to regulate anything. You can’t just get there at 10 and turn the knob, someone has to build a fire and that someone is me.
So me and Shannon got there around nine that morning and commenced to build a fire and get the day underway. They had brought more crew around the fly of my ole wagon that I had never seen before- enough bright lights to light the runway at JFK.
We began filming but it seemed everytime we got started someone else would drive up and we would have to start over. Enough is enough! I told Kat, the producer, no more stopping let’s just go on no matter who drives up next.
Well here in about 1o minutes in another feller drove up and everybody started cheering and clapping and I thought, “Man this is an easy crowd. They ain’t even tasted my food yet and they’re applauding already.” I soon realized, it wasn’t for me but the Food Network Chef Bobby Flay.
Much to my surprise he said he had come to Texas to challenge the best to cook chicken fried steak. “You want to have a good ole fashion throw down?” asked Bobby.
Welcome to the land of hot and heavy Bobby!
I introduced him to Bertha up close and personal. Sweat was pouring off ole Bobby like the rain we had back in June. Now don’t get me wrong I did stoke that ole fire-box up to capacity, it reached temperatures never ever seen by any conventional oven in one of them fancy kitchens!
Now Mr. Flay was a good sport and a good cook. Shannon and I cooked about 25 chicken fried steaks and two more for the judges. We couldn’t let these folks around us down or even think of losing.
After it was all said and done we won the Throwdown with Bobby Flay. And it did get hot fora transplanted Okie and a feller from New York City. It felt good to win butI appreciate the Food Network and Bobby for giving me the chance. But all in all it was just another day at the wagon.
So was it a throwdown or a showdown? All I know is two people who like to cook showed up and cooked about 50 chicken fried steaks… with gravy to boot. But when it came time to breakdown camp it was just me and Shannon…just another day at the wagon.