Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Free lunch, of a sort...

That's the way Ed put it, when he sent me a link to a call for participants in a 'popular Canadian culinary competition'.

They were looking for eaters not cookers, hence the 'free lunch'. I've been training for a chance like this three times a day for more than 60 years. You can imagine how quickly I took the bait.


I had guessed correctly that the competition in question was MasterChef Canada, though the organizers were initially coy with details. They were looking for riders. I imagine what they were hoping for was a ravenous black-leather chrome-plated horde of salivating riders thundering onto the set to devour the competing offerings while the judges whipped the perspiring 'chefs' into a food cooking frenzy of epic proportions "YOU HAVE FIFTEEN MINUTES!! FIFTEEN MINUTES REMAINING!!!!"

Ever trying to please, once I got the nod, I offered the producers a choice, in tried and true Amazing Race format: black Shadow, or black Vespa?

They chose black Vespa. They said they were interested in the variety and diversity it might add to the show. Kind of like a hint, a soup├žon, a whisp, of savory Tuscan sophistication in a Milwaukee beefcake and chopper stew.

They were inviting pillions to join in the fray, so Susan tagged along. I think it was the first real bonus Susan reaped from my otherwise irksome conversion to riderdom. Susan enjoys Master Chef almost as much as I enjoy running errands on two wheels. Let the record show, however, that she refused to play the biker chick part and for that reason did not grace my Vespa with her pretty presence.

I noticed that the producers were also welcoming non-riders, and I had no difficulty wrangling invitations for two more family members whose anonymity I am preserving. I assumed the production staff were concerned there wouldn't be enough riders and wanted to pad the ranks of eaters.

And so it was that last Friday I pulled into the Evergreen Brickworks event space off Bayview, deep in the Don Valley.

I guess I was wrong about too few bikers showing up.

Ed was there on his vintage BMW brick bike, so was Matt riding his slightly younger brick, and easily a hundred other motorcyclists. Do BMW bricks come from brick works? Is it the brick works attracting the bricks? (Ed.: well I got that wrong. See Ed's comment below.)

Matt on his brick

Ed next to his brick
My Vespa contributed to the event, no doubt, about like a single peppercorn tossed into a pot of chili. I chose my attire wisely, figuring that if my Vespa stood out like a sore thumb, I stood a chance of blending in once I parked the bike.

Once everyone checked in and completed their waivers (geez what pie do lawyers not have their fingers in?) the riders were marshaled two-by two all Noah's-ark-like. The marshaling worked much better when the parade marshal remembered to press the push-to-talk button on her megaphone.

Eventually, once whatever needed to be completed on the cooker side of the venue (the cooking??) was in the bag, the eaters were set free and we rolled over to the cooker side where our grand entrance (I sure hope it was grand - will I be on TV??) was recorded by the camera crew using all the miracles of a modern TV set.

Rest assured, dear readers, that I wielded my point-and-shoot Leica-lensed digital marvel camera with great skill and recorded all the minutiae of our escapade for posterity. But... the producers kindly asked that I not reveal any information on social media that might give away the state of the MasterChef competition before this episode airs, sometime in early 2017.

So if, somehow, you are placing wagers on the MasterChef outcome with your friendly local bookie, and are hoping to use my innocent little blog as a treasure trove of clues to give you an edge on the odds makers, you will be bitterly disappointed.

Even with that hobbling restriction, I still have some interesting behind-the-scenes insights to share here.

So what was this gourmet master chef fare they enticed all the bikers with?

Burgers and fries of course...

... 'elevated' of course. Elevating a common dish is de rigueur if you are an aspiring Master Chef.

Apparently elevating a burger and fries is as simple as tossing some onion bacon jam on the bun, and some fromage bleu in the fries, at least in the view of the green team contestants. Teams of other colors had other ideas on elevation. I personally think that fishing for bikers with bacon is cheating. Way too easy.

If you think that eating free, gourmet, chef-quality, fancy-pants burgers and fries is a walk in the park, think again. The TV viewing public needs to know precisely how that burger is performing for you. Michael Bonacini, one of the intrepid celebrity judges, found out that this diner's burger was 'raw', so he hand-delivered a fresh attempt, I assume after the wannabee master chefs responsible were duly excoriated for their pitiful attempt at cookery, and then Mr. Bonacini stuck close by to witness first-hand how yummy that fresh new properly-cooked burger truly was. Eaters must be as steadfast, brave and unflinching as the cookers.

Was it worth the drama and the wait?

You betcha!


Unknown said...

David, your brick-a-brac ;-) philosophizing had you steering toward that age-old question, or rather its distant German cousin: Which came first, the brickworks or the flying brick?...

And you might have blended in well crowd-mingling in your leather (though that there jacket appears a bit freshly pressed ;-) ), but did you look—or feel—out of your element all leathered up like a hoodlum while astride your li'l black scoot?

It sounds like it was a great excuse to go for a ride, man!

David Masse said...

Well Ry, that first one's an easy pitch. The brickworks of course!

I agree that my Viking Angel Fire jacket is a little less than fully broken in. I guess it makes me look more like a plant and less like a prop. And sadly yes, when I wear that jacket I do feel a little out of my element and a tiny little bit like a hoodlum.

ADK Jim said...

David, I did notice what seemed like just a bit of extra polish on that Vespa and I'll bet the cameras didn't even get one shot of it for the show - next time :-)

David Masse said...

Jim you have sharp powers of observation. There was indeed some wax on that bike. Mostly responsible was the Distringuished Gentleman's Ride. The previous wa job was... maybe 2014. I take after the Steve Williams approach to Vespa spiffing: less is more.

There is some kind of a chance that the shiny Vespa made the camera. But I agree, it's slim for sure.

redlegsrides said...

Cool event though I wonder if I'd have borne the logistics and herding as well as you did. I look forward to your pics, this definite was a different version of a Ride to Eat!

bocutter ed said...

"Ed was there on his vintage BMW brick bike, so was Matt riding his slightly younger brick"
How embarassing ... mine is younger '87 vs '86, and lower kilometerAge 77k vs 100+k.

It was a fun day. I asked the greenies to put their fromage bleu on the burger instead of the fries. Quite tasty. Never did get around to telling the producers I'd brought my own kitchen ...

David Masse said...

As I am sure you know, "reality TV" or even 'reality TV' is anything but really real.

The herding was much less painful than the waiting, but in the company of a herd of friendly bikers, and plenty of bikes to gawk at, even that wasn't really painful.

David Masse said...

Well Ed, when you get around to painting your bike to match your traveling topcase kitchen, people will think it's a brand new BMW innovation: Motorad, Westphalia Edition.

RichardM said...

A cool opportunity for a free lunch!

The City Mouse in the Country said...

I am obviously not moving in the correct circles. I have friends who ask me to pay for their lunch!

David Masse said...

And they say there's no such thing as a free lunch :)

David Masse said...

When I get to Tampa, I promise to buy you lunch and move you up to new circles.

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