Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Food Network Celebrity Encounter

I saw a tweet from Giada De Laurentiis saying that she was going to be in Dallas signing her latest book.  I looked at my schedule and I had to be in Dallas the next day anyway, so I decided to see if I could sneak into the event.

It was Williams Sonoma at the Northpark Mall, about 15 minutes from my hotel, PERFECT.  I called Williams Sonoma to see if I could get a media pass, but I couldn't get through to the right people.  So I bought a book (link below) over the phone to secure my spot in line to meet the new reigning queen of The Food Network.

I arrived about 4 hours early because only a limited number of people would be able to see her.  There was already a line out the building and starting to wrap around the mall.  Since I had already purchased my ticket, the sales lady said I was guaranteed to meet Giada, so, I decided to check out this mall.  It was awesome, I went into the Gucci, Versace, Michael Kors, Armani stores. 

I arrived back at the Williams Sonoma store to see that the line had nearly TRIPLED!  I took my spot in line and met some awesome fans of Giada's.  I traded stories with the couple behind me.  They have met Chef Robert Irvine, Tyler Florence, and many others.  I told them how I got to see Paula Deen, Terry French, and Debi Mazar the month before.  We stood in line for about 2 hours and I kept everyone updated on Giada's twitter posts.

The Williams Sonoma people started handing out the the books to be signed.  They told everyone that you couldn't take pictures, talk, touch, or really do anything except get your book after she signs it.  I have been in charge of many book signings (some including the Secret Service) and none were as tense as this. 

We get in and I have a plan....  It is my turn now.... What do I do?  I stand back for a second and this is what happens:

(She is handed my book)
Giada: Where is Thomas?
Me: Here.
Giada: You must be Thomas. (I am the only guy in the area)
Me: Yes Ma'am, How are you?
Handlers: says something inaudible to here
(Giada is now signing my book)
Williams Sonoma Lady: Thomas has been here all afternoon to see you.
Me: May I get a quick handshake? (I was really wanting a kiss) (The lady behind takes my picture a this time with my camera)
Giada: (upon hearing that I have been here all day) Thomas, Go home and cook something!
Me: Yes Ma'am!

I take my newly autographed book, grab my camera from the stranger behind me and make way out the door, but I take a few more pics. 

(she is even prettier in person than on TV!)

It was fast, less than 30 seconds, but I know we shared a moment.  I am sure that she spends many a nights wondering who is that Thomas guy.  Why did he want to shake my hand.  Wait, did he touch me when he was told not to?  Was that his camera?  He didn't listen!  Good for him!

That was my experience meeting Giada De Laurentiis, and Giada if you are reading this, please follow me on twitter!  @TeeJayToday and one day I will get to meet you a little more formally because I intend to try out (and win) the Next Food Network Star!

-Thomas (TeeJay Today)

Monday, November 18, 2013

All about Thanksgiving

I wanted to write an article that included as many topics about Thanksgiving that I could.  I've included a short history and how to cook various Thanksgiving dishes.  I am unable to spend Thanksgiving with my family this year.  Iv'e decided that I am going to take a few new friends that are unable to share this day with their families out to eat and a movie.  Send me a tweet with what you are thankful for this year!

From wikipedia,
Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day, currently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November by federal legislation in 1941, has been an annual tradition in the United States by presidential proclamation since 1863 and by state legislation since the Founding Fathers of the United States. Historically, Thanksgiving began as a tradition of celebrating the harvest of the year.  There are claims that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by Spanish explorers in Texas at San Elizario in 1598.

Amazing Green Bean Casserole with a twist!

4 big servings or 6 smaller servings

1 lb green beans blanched
1 lb asparagus blanched
1 sm potato blanched
5 baby portabella mushrooms sliced
1 sm onion caramelised
2 cloves pickled garlic chopped
1 cup milk
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
Onion Powder
Cayenne Pepper
Parsley Flakes
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesean cheese
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped hazelnuts

In a shallow casserole dish, whisk your milk, soup, and seasonings until smooth, add all ingredients except for toppings, mix together topping ingredients and add to the top.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes

Here are a couple videos on cooking a turkey, making stuffing, cornbread, buttermilk pie and pumpkin pie! yum!

Hope you have a Wonderful Holiday!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Meeting Paula Deen and Family

That's right, the Southern Queen herself!

Day 1.

I arrived at 9:15am, just in time to get a meet and greet with Paula's son, Bobby Deen!  I got a few great pictures of Bobby Michael Grover interacting with their fans and signing autographs.  After I got my pictures, I had took the chance to meet the man myself.  He took the time to sign autographs and take pictures with every fan that wanted it.  Michael had to leave, but I catch up with him later.
It was my turn, I got a cookbook signed and a quick photo.   We even made small talk about the newest Nokia Lumia Windows phone that I had to get out picture made with.  It just helps cement that Bobby is a down to Earth guy.

Later in the day it is time for Paula and her family to do a cooking demonstration.  I am located on a platform 90 ft from the stage with my camcorder and big zoom camera when everyone arrives.  The place lights up like a rock concert.  On stage is Paula, Bobby, and Michael Grover (Paula's husband).  For the first 15 minutes or so they do nothing but tell stories and such.  When the cooking starts, the press is told they have to leave.  I was able to take an unused chair at the back of the gathering.  The cooking demo was AWESOME.  I got to see Paula do what she does best, cook and entertain an audience.  See the video below!

After the demo I walk over to the Paula Deen food booth where all of her products are for sale.  I decide to buy the biscuit mix and they gave me a magazine.  As I was checking out, Paula walks up and signs my magazine!  Then a hoard of people trap me up close to Paula, I tried to get out of the way so that others could get an autograph.  I took a few pictures but it was hard to see anything and everyone was bumping in to each other.   Later, I gave the magazine to my mother.

I decided to call it a night, I went back to my hotel, grabbed some hummus and a smoothie from the lounge and passed out from exhaustion in my room.

Day 2.

I had just finished filming an interview with Debbie and Gabrielle from "Extra Virgin".  The other reporters followed them to the stage for their cooking demo, but Stacy Fawcett and I stayed in the hallway talking.  Stacy is the premier food blogger for TV shows and radio shows in the Dallas area.  As we were standing there, Bobby Deen and Michael Grover walk out.  Stacy and I take it upon ourselves to take pictures with Mr. Grover.  Then a throng of personal security floods the hallway.  They start asking who I am with, what media outlets, etc....  Then she appears.  Paula walks out, we stare at each other for what feels like eternity.  She stops to try and talk with Stacy and I but her handlers usher her along, she smiles and waves.  I think she remembered me from the day before when she was signing my magazine.

Feeling pleased with myself, I walk back to the vendor area and purchase one of her autographed aprons, while I am there I get it signed by Debbie and Gabrielle.

Now to try and get the rest of the famous TV chefs to sign my apron and to get pictures with them.  I regret not getting a picture with Paula, but maybe one day our paths will cross again!

Please see all of the pictures that I took at and be sure to follow me on twitter (@TeeJayToday) and instagram! (@TeeJay2Day)

All pictures and videos in this article were taken by me!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Chef Terry Frech....The Extreme Chef, #RebelChef Interview & Tips

Let me tell you about an individual that is Out of This World Over the Top! (but in a good way)
I am talking about none other than Extreme Chef Terry French.  He is considered the Extreme Chef because he beat out many other chefs on the Reality show, Most Extreme Chef.  On that show he had to capture/cook all kinds of weird creatures and cook in some of the most unforgiving environments.

So... I had just arrived at the Convention Center and already had a quick photo op with Bobby Deen.  I went over and picked up my credentials and ventured off into the show.  They started making announcements for the first Cooking Demo with Chef Terry French.  I walked into the Demo area and started getting my camera out.  That is when Extreme Chef Terry French walked right in front of me, looked me up and down, and said, "Hey Brother, make sure if you get pictures of me that I ain't picking my nose or something, only good pics!"  And that was my first run in with Chef Terry.  I stayed and watched the demo... He made an amazing Crab and Avocado Salad as well as entertaining the crowd that showed up for the demo.

The next day was my chance to interview "The Rebel Chef" Terry.  He had just finished his first interview of the day and I was #2.  We walked around the showroom until he found a booth that had some old fence wood that we were going to use as a background.  I asked him 3 questions and told him to talk about it on camera.  He pulled it off like a champ as you can see in the video below.  He signed an autograph for me and said he would be in touch.  He had to leave a little early to catch a flight to go crabbing...

As he was leaving I learned that he stayed in the same hotel as me and it was his Birthday that day!  Happy Late Birthday Chef Terry!

Skip ahead a few days... I had just posted my interview with Debi and Gabriele from #ExtraVirgin.  I get a tweet from Chef Terry asking for my phone #.  I DM it back.  He calls and starts asking where his interview is, that I chose the beautiful girl from Brooklyn over him. (I had already started editing his interview)  I was starting to get worried that I  had actually pissed off the Chef. (See, I was just trying to build up to my Paula Deen Post, and he was second in that climax building)  He then says, "Hey, I'm just kidding with ya, but I've got a lot of things coming up and just want to make sure I have your contact info.  We talked about a few things that he has coming up, he invited me to a few events coming up. (Mind you, Chef is a colorful character and likes to use VERY COLORFUL language that I wont use here)  Now that I look back on it, it was hilarious!  Thank you Chef!

I have to tell you about this story though.  Okay, Chef and I are staying in the same hotel, (So was another co-worker of mine but didn't know it at the time) and there is a fire alarm at 2AM.  Chef is still up partying like an animal since it was his birthday and I sleep right through it and had no clue.  Turns out "Party Chef" had a hot tub full of beautiful women singing him Happy Birthday!  Man.... I always miss the fun.

Chef, I can't wait til the next time you are in Dallas, I am going to take you up on your offer to go get in trouble!

If you ever get a chance to meet The Rebel Chef in person... do it!  You can see where he will be appearing next on his website: or follow him on twitter at Check back here often because Chef Terry has some awesome opportunities coming up and he promised that we could come along for the ride! 

See more pictures of Chef Terry French at and on his website... tell him TeeJay sent ya!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos from #ExtraVirgin on The Cooking Channel

I recently had the blessing to attend an event by @MetroCooking in Dallas as one of the Blogger/Media people.  I had a blast, but the most memorable part was being part of an interview with Debi and Gabriele.  They are 2 of the most sincere and talented people I have had the pleasure of meeting.

This is how the day went:

I was told to be at the event at 11AM so that another Blogger/Media person and I could be taken to a make shift interview room to ask a few questions.  Stacy and I got together to make sure that we were not going to ask the same questions... we both planned to ask just 2 questions each.  Another Media personality joined us but did not share like we did. 
Everyone started to get set, it was 10 minutes until showtime for us... I had my big Sony camera ready, my HD camcorder was ready also.  The big media people had their cameras set up... We were ready. 
That is when we got the news... Something was holding them up and we would only have time for one question each.  OH NO!
We were worried that the press was going to be shoved to the back burner because Debi and Gabriele had to be on stage at a certain time and we knew that we could not hold up that public event.  Thousands of people would be upset if they were late.
After what felt like an eternity (it was only a few minutes in reality) the stars walked into the room and being the professionals that they are, were ready to go immediately with the questions.
They were putting their things away as Debi says, "Where is Joe that is here to interview us today?  (no one answered) The guy that was talking to us on twitter last night and this morning?  THAT WAS ME!  I was the guy they knew about over the other media people there that are way more popular than me!  I felt an immediate connection between them and me!
The first interviewer went and it felt like they took longer than they should, but everyone feels that way when you are next and everyone is on a TIGHT schedule.  It was finally the bloggers' turn.  As Debi was looking at me with a very warming and inviting smile, all I could mutter out was, "Tell me about your book."  (You can see what happened from there in the vid below)

I was so thankful that Debi and Gabriele are REAL people, the answers they gave me made me feel like they are just a regular family!  They really do care about raising strong independent daughters and they are very proud of it. 
My absolute favorite part was during the interview, one of the handlers that makes sure everyone gets to the right place on time, swirled her finger in a circle signaling that we need to wrap things up.  Debi tells them to stop swirling her finger at her, she was going to thoroughly answer our questions.  I gained so much respect for Debi and Gabriele in that moment it is unreal. 
After they got off stage and did their cooking demo, I caught up with them to snap a quick picture and to get an autograph, which they happily did. 
I was leaving, they were still signing autographs, I waved to them... they both stopped what they were doing to wave back, say Thank You and Gabriele yelled "CIAO!" over the line of eager people awaiting an autograph.  For a second I felt like the celebrity as everyone turned to see who had their attention, and it was little ole TeeJay Today!

Get with your cable provider to check out their show on The Cooking Channel, it is called Extra Virgin.  They also have a Cookbook coming out, a beauty line, and olive oil coming to a store near you soon!

PreOrder their upcoming cookbook now!

Keep up with Debi on IMDB at to see what movies and shows she will be starring in, in the future!

Find them on twitter:  (Debi)  (Gabriele)

Find me on Instagram too!  @TeeJay2Day

See More Pictures of Debi & Gabriele on my facebook page, click on "TeeJay and Celebs"

Thank you to Sabra, Jill, Stacy, and MetroCooking!
I have some more great articles coming from this event (Paula & Bobby Deen, Jason Roberts,  Extreme Chef Terry French, the Vendors and Food!)

 Don't forget to sign up to receive emails when we post new articles!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Guess Where I'm Going Next Month...

Foodie weekend to include TV stars, new tasting Pavilion, 100s of vendors
DALLAS, TEXAS (July 31, 2013) – The weekend of September 21 & 22, 2013 brings fun for foodies and fans from Dallas and beyond when Metro Cooking Dallas returns to The Dallas Convention Center for its second year. This year’s extravaganza brings renowned television chefs, hundreds of specialty food exhibitors, cooking demonstrations and workshops. And new this year is the Grand Tasting Pavilion where dozens of local restaurants and chefs will share samples of their signature fare.
Those who purchase a one-day theater pass have the opportunity to see a rotating roster of television chefs including The Chew’s Jason Roberts (pictured below); actress Debi Mazur (of Entourage) and her husband Gabriele Corcos from the Cooking Channel’s Extra Virgin; Paula Deen, who will be joined on stage by her son, Bobby Deen whose show Not My Mama’s Meals is seen on both the Cooking Channel and the Food Network; the Grill Sergeant Brad Turner and the Food Network’s Extreme Chef Terry French. Bobby Deen will also host The Bobby Deen BBQ & Photo Op on Saturday, September 22 where attendees will enjoy recipes selected by Bobby and have their photo taken with him. Paula will swing by the BBQ for a quick "hey, y'all" as well.
More personalities are conducting a variety of workshops over the weekend including "Date Night Dinner Dishes" by Rocky Fino; "Terrific Truffles!" by Sue Williams; "Impress Your Guests" by Valerie Rice; "The Healing Diet" by Nancy Addison; "Single Serving!" by Evelyn Williams and more. Tasting and entertaining workshops taught by industry experts will expose guests to delightful and unique specialty foods and entertaining ideas.
Amidst the live discussions and demonstrations with chefs and the rest of the impressive list of participants will be a labyrinth of vendor booths in the MarketPlace featuring samples and wares from more than 150 exhibitors. Local and international specialty foods and food-related products will be for sale throughout the weekend.

Monday, August 26, 2013

New Amazing Dessert

I got a hankering for a fast food hamburger the other day and swung through the Carl Jr's drive thru.  I ordered a BBQ burger and the cashier lady asked if I wanted to try their new dessert item... I said, Sure, Why Not?  It was the new pop tart IceCream sandwich.

It was awesome!  Great smooth vanilla IceCream in between a strawberry pop art that was cut in half.  It hit the spot.... Not overly sweet, but a fantastic ending to a great burger.

Suggestion... For the holidays: how about pumpkin IceCream in between the brown sugar and cinnamon pop tart, and for Christmas, how about chocolate mint IceCream on the fudge pop tarts?  I am addicted to all things pumpkin, so I would have to visit just for the pumpkin pop tart at least twice per week.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Food Critique

Has customer service really gone the way of the dinosaurs?  From eating out the last few days, I would say it is extinct.

First, I am currently on vacation from my 4A-6P job and took the time to travel to a nearby city to "get away" and be pampered.

I ate at a place called the "8oz Burger Bar" inside the Horseshoe hotel and casino.  I saw on the menu that The Oprah Winfrey show recommended a sandwich called the "Short Rib Grilled Cheese" .  It came with Short Rib meat, red onion marmalade, and Swiss cheese on grilled crispy bread.  The Bread was great, the meat was tender, the cheese was perfectly melted, but I think they forgot the onion marmalade.  It had a few slices of red onion on it, does that count as marmalade now?  Since it was missing the marmalade, it was on the dry side.  Not worth what we paid for it.

The next morning I went to the "JB Cafe" in the casino.  I am to suspect that it is supposed to be like a Starbucks with pastries and coffee drinks.  My pastry and mocha totaled $11!  WTF!  Starbucks is only $6.  They made the mocha backwards... they started by pulling the espresso. (I managed a high end coffee shop) that is the LAST thing you do when making a coffee drink.  My pastry was handed to me right out of the fridge instead of the case.  It was still wrapped in clear wrap.  It would have been nice if they put it on a plate.  I asked for it to be warmed in the microwave.  She microwaved it still wrapped in the clear wrap, then she handed it back to me, still without a plate, but at least I got a plastic fork this time. 

Final Verdict:

Don't waste your money eating at the casino unless you are eating at "Spread" the buffet.
See my review in the video below!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

New Summer Seafood Salad

I believe that you can travel to exotic places through food.  That being said, I wanted to travel to the Mediterranean.  Here is the recipe for my Summer Seafood Salad! 

1.5 pounds boiled shrimp
.5 pounds roasted scallops
1 sm tin octopus
1/2 cup onion
1/2 cup roasted corn
1/4 finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped roasted bell pepper
1/2 cup light mayo (or plain Greek yogurt) 
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup chopped Savoy cabbage 
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
S&P and cayenne pepper to taste

The great thing about this recipe, is you just throw everything in a bowl and mix it up, let set in fridge for 1 hour before serving.  Great as a salad on top of lettuce or as a sandwich/wrap, or just plain!  

Don't forget to find me on YouTube (TeeJayToday75) where I post how to cooking videos! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

An alternative to coleslaw..... Carrot Salad

Every summer, coleslaw is a staple of the summer BBQ... But it gets old! Lets change it up a bit with my Carrot Salad that is to die for!

2 cups shredded carrots
1/4 cup shredded cabbage
1/4 cup currants (or raisins)
1/3 cup chopped pineapple
1Tbsp jalepenos chopped finely
2 Tbsp shredded coconut
1/3 cup mayo
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar

In a large bowl combine vinegar, mayo, sugar, and S&P.... Once that is combined, add the rest of the ingredients, stir, and chill at least 1 hour before serving!

A new hit at your party or Summer BBQ!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Eating my way to Chicago and Back!

I recently got a wild hair and decided to hop on a train and go as far north as it could go.  That turns out to be Chicago.  I took a 20 HOUR train ride from Longview, TX to Chicago, IL.  What a LOOOOONG train ride but I was able to see some beautiful country side, eat some great food (some not-so great food) and I ended up in Chicago!

Here is the trip through thru food!

I started out on the train Friday night where I had dinner.  I ordered Vegetarian Alfredo Pasta in the Diner Car.  This was one of the nights that was not-so great.  The Bread that was served was hard as a ROCK!  The salad they brought out was limp! (it was just tomatoes and iceberg lettuce)  The pasta that was sent out was still frozen together in a chunk in the middle!  After I asked them to go microwave it for a minute, it tasted okay.

The next morning I just bought a coffee and a pastry as I watched the sun rise over the Ozarks in the Observation car.  Because of the view, that was the best breakfast I have had in a long while.

I skipped lunch because I knew I would be eating well in Chicago.

I finally arrived at Union Station where I called a cab to get to my hotel downtown.  Downtown Chicago was beautiful, all of the architecture, lights, people, ambient city noises, etc...  After I checked in headed down to the lobby where I was meeting a musician that I was interviewing for  We went over to the hotel bar so that I could try the regional beer, "Goose Island"  It was great!  You have to try it.  Met some awesome ladies in the bar that were in town for a Hair Stylists Convention.... and yes... they had GREAT Hair!

I decided to walk around the downtown area and eat where ever I stumbled upon.  Being from Texas, I was freezing, so I ducked into an open door, and low and behold, it was a Sushi Restaurant.  So I decided to just sit down and order.  I told the waitress to just let the chef prepare me some Niguri Sushi.  The fish was FRESH... the food was AMAZING... BY FAR THE BEST SUSHI I've had! 
Here are a few pics from this restaurant.

After my early dinner I wanted to do some shopping, so I stopped by Marshalls, HomeGoods, Burberry, Nordstroms, and a few more stores.  After a few hours of shopping, my appetite was back and I wanted to try an original Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.  So... turns out I was only 2 blocks from Pizzeria Uno... Which claims to have INVENTED this type of pizza.  I walked in and had a seat at the bar.  (be prepared to wait, it takes about an hour to cook this type of pizza)  I ordered an individual Sausage Pizza.  As I was waiting I took the time to try another Goose Island beer, a Screwdriver, and Sam Adams while in the pub/restaurant.  Everything was GREAT,  I only want Chicago Deep Dish Pizzas from now on... except when I make my way to New York... then I want REAL New York pizza.  (this is what my Pizza looked like)

I finally stumbled my way back to the hotel to get some rest before I went to museums and got back on the train the next day.
For Breakfast there was a small croissant bakery and coffee shop right beside my Hotel.  I stopped in for a Croissant with Nutella! (So GOOD!) and a Tuxedo Coffee.... (Apparently that is a Texas term... Chicagoans call it a Zebra Mocha) which is a regular mocha with an extra pump of white chocolate.   With croissant and coffee in hand, my doorman hailed a cab for me so that I could visit the Field Museum before I needed to leave ChiTown. 
After the museum I had to run to catch the train, but since it was late I was able to explore Union Station a bit.  I was able to see where "The Untouchables" filmed the epic shootout scene on the stairs.  I had to go up and down the stairs.  I also had time to go find some food in the food court.  I found a burrito place that offered a BBQ chicken stuft burrito, plus I wanted to see if Chicago Style BBQ was as good as Texas BBQ.  It was amazingly sweet and tangy... closer to TX BBQ than I was expecting!  It hit the spot and was very satisfying and filling!
Back on the train for dinner, in the Diner Car.  I ordered the special hoping it wouldn't be a pre-frozen entree.  It was braised Lamb Shank with garlic roasted potatoes and green beans.  The meat was cooked so well I was able to just pull the bone out and chow down.  The potatoes were awesome, but the green beans were kind of rubbery, no doubt they were previously frozen.  Since it was the last day of my mini vacation I ordered dessert to eat back at my seat on the train.  It was a torte of peanut butter, chocolate cake, and caramel.  It was great!
Anyway... That is how I ate my way to Chicago and Back.... If you know of a great place to eat in Chicago, send it to me on Twitter (@TeeJayToday) and I will add it to the list here!  I hope to be going back to Chicago soon!  It was fun and the people were all very nice!

Want a Deep Dish Pizza Pan?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Easy AND Healthy Hummus

I was tired of spendig $5 for a pint of hummus at my local grocery, plus it had preservatives in it.  So I was on a mission to make my own.  For just pennies I was able to make a boatload of hummus that tasted BETTER than the grocery stores!  Learn how I did it by watching the video below!  Thanks

Do you make it differently?  Let me know how!