My Adventure on Dinner: Impossible

Food Network's Robert Irvine screamed at me for 8 hours - and I loved it!
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My Adventure on Dinner: Impossible

Food Network’s Robert Irvine screamed at me for 8 hours – and I loved it!

-Francine Segan

Dinner: Impossible 

-“Come on! Hustle, hustle!”

-“Are you out of your mind?  I can’t serve this crap.”

-“Don’t be a cry baby.”

That’s Food Network star Robert Irvine shouting at me during the taping of a recent episode for his popular series, Dinner: Impossible (airing on Nov. 18 at 10pm).  He’s a buff hunk on TV, but he’s even bigger in person. A wall of a guy – 6’1,” 226 pounds, biceps like hams, and a voice that you could easily imagine booming across two football fields. He’s like a drill sergeant, only with an adorable English accent and a sense of humor.

 When he yells, “Move it!” you move.

The premise of the show is that Robert must overcome extraordinary culinary obstacles to deliver a delicious meal for huge crowds before time runs out. He’s got only 8 hours, real time, to plan a menu, go grocery shopping, and cook for hundreds of hungry folks.  He’s cooked on a desert island, in a zoo, on a cattle drive, and at Graceland. In general, Robert does whatever it takes to get supper on the table. 

That day, what it took was good-naturedly barking orders at me. I loved it, though. It was like being on a professional sports team with Robert  as teammate, coach and wacko cheerleading squad.

How’d I get into this predicament?

 I’ve written several historical cookbooks and was invited to be a guest expert for an episode on creating meals based on different time periods in American history.  The producers explained that I would help Robert stay on track with what foods were available during each era.

I thought it would be like Iron Chef America, where I’d get to sit and sip white wine and taste all sorts of yummy foods. Boy, was I wrong.

Not only did Robert want me to cook, he asked me for two different dishes that would each feed 300 VIP guests.

Now, I’ve written four cookbooks – My last one, Opera Lover’s Cookbook, was even a finalist for a James Beard award – but not one of the recipes in any of my books is supposed to feed 300!  Plus, Robert expected me to work in a restaurant kitchen. My only restaurant experience is sitting down to a nice meal served by a waiter!

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