As I write this, I am very, very full. And very, very happy.
My girlfriend and I successfully followed along to celebrity chef Robert Irvine’s (television’s Restaurant: Impossible, Dinner: Impossible) latest stunt, Dinner With Robert Irvine: A Live Online Event. DWRI:ALOE (as we can all agree rolls off the tongue much more easily) was an hour-long event on May 29 in which Irvine cooks two meals in real time, explaining his process and answering questions along the way via live stream and chat.
I had very little idea of what to expect going into this; admission for the live stream was a very reasonable $5 (a still-reasonable $10 for later reservations), and no menu or strict agenda was given. In Irvine’s own words, “I’ll send you the shopping list, and a few tips and tricks and we’ll cook dinner together. Don’t worry about the recipes, I’ll teach you how to cook everything…live, online and in real time.” Not especially descriptive, but hey, I’m a Restaurant: Impossible junkie, and I had faith in Irvine’s ability to entertain me for an hour. He’s certainly done it before.
The shopping list was emailed out last week, and some light prep work was ascertained from it. Yes, you read that correctly. Lou. Diamond. Phillips.We were still very much in the dark when the stream began, and Irvine introduced himself and his co-host, Lou Diamond Phillips. Yes, you read that correctly. Lou. Diamond. Phillips. Phillips is apparently quite the chef, and confessed to cooking for his film and television co-stars and crew on a regular basis.
The first dish, Sautéed Shrimp with Soft Spinach Polenta and Strawberry Pan Sauce was the simpler of the two. The Spinach Polenta provided a smooth, buttery bed for the perfectly seared shrimp, and the pan sauce proved that strawberries and onions are alarmingly delicious bedfellows. While the preceding passage may imply that our culinary skills are responsible for the tasty results, I must stress that we were simply following Irvine’s directions and more or less keeping up with his quick pace.
The second dish, Pan Seared Pork Loin with Mustard Pan Sauce and Bacon Potato Hash, was even more delicious but a bit more challenging. The second dish was even more delicious but a bit more challenging.The pork was perfectly cooked and extremely tender, caramelized nicely with a rangetop sear before finishing in the oven. We actually followed directions poorly for the potato hash but had stupendous results; Irvine suggested putting peaches in after the potatoes had time to soften, but we missed this step and added them early. As a result, the flavor of the peaches had diminished, but we agreed the results were still quite tasty. Using the pan juices of the pork, a glaze was created using malt vinegar, ground mustard, and butter. I must stress that I normally have a hatred of vinegar and vinaigrettes that may be unparalleled. I initially dripped a tiny amount on to try, and ended up slathering on much more; it had a subtle tanginess and the mustard taste far outweighed the vinegar.
In terms of entertainment value, Irvine is second to no other chef. As funny as he is enthusiastic, when he’s not passionately discussing why he loves cooking for people, he’s cracking jokes and laughing. And as unexpected and mildly hilarious his appearance was, Phillips actually provided the perfect foil for Irvine: funny in his own right, and often providing insightful play by play commentary as Irvine worked. Not that Phillips stood at the sidelines and enjoyed the fruits of Irvine’s labor; he was quite active in the process, and his culinary skills were clearly impressive.
At the conclusion, many viewers used the live chat to complain about the pace of the event. For a measly five bucks, a fun-filled gourmet hour with Irvine is a no-brainer.While it certainly was fast-paced (especially the second dish), by working together and prepping items based on the menu (cubing meats, just having items on hand and ready) we were able to prepare both dishes while simultaneously washing pans, taking photos for this article, and only doing a minimal amount of headless chicken imitations. For those who were less prepared, it would have been nice to see the recipes emailed out sooner than 30 minutes after the event ended.
That said, this event was a total blast. The hour flew by, the food was delicious, and we agreed we would definitely love to do this again with a group. Irvine’s stated desire was to make a meal with as many families and friends as possible, so the desire to do this in a group setting in the future would, in my opinion, make this experience an unqualified success. Even if Irvine does not do another event of this nature, all viewers are sent a copy of the video and the recipes so they can enjoy these fantastic meals again. For a measly five bucks, a fun-filled gourmet hour with Irvine is a no-brainer.