By Lesley Rousso
So, flash back all the way to July 24th 2014. I was having an unfortunate reaction to the eyelash extensions I’d had put on the day before. Unfortunate mostly because I was participating in a filming of Bravo‘s newest food show, Best New Restaurant. Let me make it very clear, this is the only type of Reality TV I would agree to appear on. My friend Jaime had applied on a site called On Set Productions and they sent her an email to see if she would be interested in going. Since it was a daytime thing, and her husband was working, she invited me. I died, of course, because Bravo TV is my religion and being a Top Chef fan, I love Tom Colicchio. The whole thing was very hush-hush. Jaime got a phone call the day before, informing us of the location. Not the name, just the location. Channeling my inner Nancy Drew, I of Google mapped it and found out that it was The Federal, an American restaurant on Miami’s Biscayne Boulevard.
We arrived in what was at least 90 degree temperatures and 100% humidity, and I quietly thanke God for my straight hair. We checked in with production in a tent in the parking lot, next to a trailer blowing hot air into the tent. It was charming really. They lectured all of us under the tent, while we melted. We were told to have lots of personality, engage each other in conversation, and ,basically, leave Tom the hell alone. “Do not speak to Tom, Do not tell him you love his restaurants. Do not ask him if he remembers you from that time you ate at his restaurant.”
They sorted us into tables and put Jaime and I with a couple we didn’t know. In true, six degrees of being Jewish form, even though they were from Ft. Lauderdale, we knew twenty of the same people. They put us all into Buicks being driven by PA’s and we were filmed going in. They did this twice. We went around the block and came back again. They ended up showing half a second of it, you can see the side of me for a millisecond
After that we were seated, having a half-fake, half-real conversation with this couple, who shall remain nameless. That’s because I don’t remember their names. Oops, my bad! The wife had a migraine and had to keep getting up to go to the bathroom. I felt bad for her because she was super excited about being there. The food was meant for sharing so we ordered a bunch of small plates. Most of it was really delicious, including that biscuit you saw when the episode aired. It was a two drink maximum (was Patti Stanger involved in production?) which was definitely a good rule. The time Darren and I did Kitchen Nightmares, our food kept getting taken away by Gordon Ramsay, so all we did was drink. Probably why we ended up on the cutting room floor.
The only negative experience of the day was my undercooked fried chicken. Chicken skeeves me out though, so it has to be like really overdone for me. I had 12 seconds of a side view of me saying it had been twenty minutes. Thank god because I really didn’t want anyone seeing me head on. The eyelash thing got worse by the minute. They put down our “checks” and we pretended to pay and left. So my conclusion is,
A. I had free wine.
B. I had free food and
C. I actually had a line on Bravo. And, a scene. Umm hello Screen Actor’s Guild, I’m ready for my card now!