Monday, January 20, 2014

Bite and Booze Wins at the Taste Awards (with Video!)

The Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Blvd.
The Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Blvd.
I cannot imagine a better four day stretch in Los Angeles than the one I just experienced. I'll get to all the food and drinks eventually, but for now I need to write about the real reason I made the trip: The 5th Annual Taste Awards. A couple years ago Peggy Sweeney-McDonald of Meanwhile, Back at Cafe du Monde... fame hosted some red carpet interviews at the Taste Awards. I knew nothing of it at the time, but she showed me the video and at some point tried to encourage me to apply. I blew it off. It seemed unattainable. People like Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern, and Zane Lamprey were winning these awards. TV shows like Top Chef and Food Network Star were being highlighted. I thought maybe one day, but not now. The fourth annual awards came and went last January, and again Peggy mentioned to me that I should look into them. So when the nomination process came back around this past August, I submitted the Bite and Booze Radio Show presented by Calandro's Supermarket for the Best Food or Drink Radio Broadcast. I figured it couldn't hurt to just throw my show out there. I heard nothing until November when the finalists were announced. I got a tweet from Kid Chef Eliana out of New Orleans who congratulated me on my nomination. As it turned out, her show, Cool Kids Cook, was also a finalist! Votes were cast over the next month and then all I could do was plan a trip to L.A. and wait. Obviously there is a great need to thank all of you who helped in any way whether it was by casting votes, sharing links, or screaming from a levee top.

Michelle Farmer-Purcell with Jay Ducote on the Red Carpet
Michelle Farmer-Purcell with Jay Ducote on the Red Carpet
The day finally came. Again, I'll have more about my eating and drinking adventures later. My date, Michelle Farmer-Purcell, who I had met as contestants on season two of Masterchef last time I was in Los Angeles, graciously served as my "arm candy" (her words, not mine, but she lived up to it!) for the evening. We checked in and then waited in line to do some red carpet photos and interviews. Peggy came back to do interviews again this year, so I got to chat with her for a bit. I'll be posting that interview on my Facebook page whenever it is online. After the red carpet we headed into the theater to get our seats. Well, I drank a few glasses of champagne, and then we went inside. We were welcomed and a few other awards were passed out. When they got to the fourth presenter the show came to the first Viewers Choice category, which happened to be for the Best Food or Drink Radio Broadcast. I somehow started recording on my phone just in time:

The entire time on stage is a blur in my mind like the Flash running by in the night. I truly did not prepare a speech or even think much about what I would say on stage because I didn't want to even partially get my hopes up that I might win. I figured there was no way, in my first year of being nominated, and competing against shows in much larger media markets, that I'd have a chance. Somehow, thanks to all of you who voted, I emerged victorious. Surprised and excited, I passed my phone off to Michelle and ran to the stage where I decided a few victory leaps with my arms stretched to the sky would be a good idea. I recall pausing a time or two during my speech to both catch my breath and actually try to think about what I should say. I felt like I really made a fool out of myself, but looking back now it isn't so bad. After the show people actually told me that it was the best acceptance speech of the night because there was evident surprise and passion. I'll take that, I suppose!

I returned to my seat with Michelle as well as Samira from Samira's Table and her friend Valerie who had both joined in on the fun in order to support me. They both seemed way more confident that I could win than I ever was. And now that I'm home with a TASTY, I guess they were right all along!

Now that I'm not on stage and have had a little more time to think about everything, I would like to say thank you to some people in addition to all the voters and supporters and listeners out there.

First, my mom, Phyllis Ducote. She has been my biggest fan, role model, encourager, and teacher. She might not realize it, but I always appreciate her wisdom and words of advice. She is the kindest and most giving person I know, and I hope I can even come close to living my life in that fashion. 

My brother Eric, who really helped encourage me to keep blogging right when I started, my sister Dana who I share a lot of memories with, and my dad Jere who has always given me the ability to chase after my dreams instead of living a boring life.

On to the radio nods, Chris Courtney at Talk 107.3 FM has been the producer of the Bite and Booze Radio Show since my very first episode. He has been there for any question I've had, for any pop-up dinner I've cooked, and for any advice I've needed about the show. He also makes the show happen on the technical side, which is awesome. Also, thanks to Flynn Foster, Gordy Rush, and everyone at Guaranty Broadcasting for giving me a shot three years ago to make a successful local food and beverage based radio show. And to Charles Pierce from the Me and My Big Mouth Radio Show and Podcast who is my field producer anytime the show is recorded out of studio. He makes the magic happen when we invade bars and restaurant with the show, and does it all for a beer or two.

A huge thanks to all of my sponsors. Calandro's Supermarket, the Louisiana Culinary Institute, and the Tin Roof Brewing Company have been on board practically since the beginning of the show. Some sponsors have come and gone, and some are brand new, and I'd like to thank each and every one of them. I couldn't have been doing this show over the last three years without the sponsors, advertisers, and supporters that have made it all possible. Juban's Creole Restaurant is the first major restaurant to believe in me enough to put their name on my brand. Visit Baton Rouge, which has been a supporter for a long time, has also been a great partner in allowing me to create content that promotes the Capital City. Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning, Mason's Grill, Restaurant IPO, the Donner-Peltier Distillery, Mama Della's Pizzeria, Louisiana Cookin' Magazine, and Chef Chris Wadsworth at Triumph Kitchen have also been a huge part of the growth of the Bite and Booze brand as a whole and especially the radio show.

Finally, there's no way I can get to them all, but thanks to Chef Eusebio Gongora for being my culinary role model and taking that first trip to San Francisco with me to a Food Blogger Festival and to Brent Broussard for being a "long time listener, first time caller" on my very first radio show. Thanks to Tommy Talley and everyone involved with tommysTV for helping launch everything I've ever done on the video side too. There's a bright future there as well. To everyone else, sorry if I missed you! But thanks to you too!

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