|The Robert Irvine Live stage at the Carolina Theatre on Thursday. | Photo: Chris White
It’s been a dream of mine to meet the amazing Chef Robert Irvine
since I began watching his show “Dinner: Impossible” several years ago.
When I learned he was bringing his live stage show to the Carolina Theatre in Durham, I was ecstatic. The words below chronicle my first experience ever at Robert Irvine Live – and just how I managed to get him to share some Skittles with me!
The evening began with a special VIP pre-show cooking seminar and Q&A session. All of the attendees were given a sample of a dish made by Chef Irvine and he showed us how he made it. His dish was pork tenderloin over a mashed pea compote and white beans, topped with chopped mango (pictured left). Holy crap! It was one of the best dishes I’ve ever had and, let me tell you, I’m as picky an eater as they come so I’m not just saying that it was delicious either. The Q&A part felt more like a casual conversation with Chef Irvine where he addressed everything from his background to why he doesn’t like to do cooking competition shows. Afterward, we were able to meet Chef Irvine and take a photo with him.
The show itself was awesome. I truly didn’t know what was coming next and it was all around a nice, fun and exciting two hours. Chef Irvine was introduced at the top of the show to a roaring applause and made a tuna dish literally before you could blink. The rest of the show featured some culinary challenges – chosen by the audience – that put Chef Irvine to the test. The kicker was Chef Irvine had no clue what he was facing coming into the show.
One such challenge had Chef Irvine and a volunteer audience member – who said he was a so-so cook at best – go up against two other volunteer audience members who said they were good cooks. A few other audience members chose to take away three kitchen utensils at random from Chef Irvine, while his opponents could use anything they desired. The utensils chosen were a colander, tongs and his chef’s knife.
To make it even harder, Chef Irvine was handcuffed and had to stand behind the “so-so cook at best” guy, meaning the guy basically did all the cooking under Chef Irvine’s guidance. The teams used the same ingredients and had 15 minutes to complete their dishes. Long story short, Chef Irvine’s team won. It was incredible!
The show also included some videos from both “Dinner Impossible” and “Restaurant: Impossible” as well as some more serious and touching moments. There was a huge emphasis on the military – Chef Irvine served in the British military – and his work through his foundation and with Gary Sinise to help the military. After the show, Chef Irvine let everyone meet him, get an autograph and snap a photo who wanted to. So that meant I got to meet my hero not once but twice in the same night. This time I snagged an autograph too!
So, what about the Skittles?
After I got his autograph, I asked him “Hey are those Skittles?” In case you don’t know, Skittles are my all time favorite candy. I didn’t have a chance to tell Chef Irvine this, but my late grandmother – my mom’s mom – got me hooked on those a long time ago. I think about her every time I see or eat Skittles. Anyway, back to the story, Chef Irvine said, “Yes. You want some? I’m a sharer.” So, of course, I took a few. Just a funny moment I thought I’d share.
Chef Irvine is one of the most kind, genuine and amazing people you’ll ever meet. I could write a novel about all the awesome things he does not only in the culinary world but just in our everyday world. Helping people, supporting our military both active and veteran, you name it. That’s why I’ve been a fan of his for a long time now and will continue to be. If you get a chance to see Robert Irvine Live, by all means, do it!