Sunday, November 22, 2015


Yesterday I had the pleasure of...umm..eyeballing Iron Chef Mario Batali.

You see, I had a ticket to his event at one of our new local upscale grocery stores. He was there to promote his new Farm to Table cookbook by doing a meet and greet with his public. The tickets were free but you had to sign up for them. He had three sessions, 30 minutes each. Session 1 went from 12:30 pm - 1:00pm, Session 2 from 1:00 pm to 1:30 pm, and so forth.

My daughter was in Carmel that morning dancing. This would be followed by her "Nutcracker" rehearsal at 2pm. Yesterday was parent observation day - the day the parents get to see the full rehearsal run of the show. Since G is dancing the lead of Klara this year I planned to be there early to get a good seat and take photos.

So... plan was to go see Mario at Session 1 then drive the 15 minutes over to the studio with plenty of time left over.

I got to the store 15 minutes before the event started. I was worried about parking. The event was "sold out". They had released 400 tickets per 30 minute session and all 1200 tickets were taken.

Since Mario was promoting his new book you could buy the book there for 25% off and he would sign it. The first thing you saw after turning your ticket in was a table loaded with his new cookbook. It was a beautiful book. Hardcover with wonderful photos. I thumbed through it and decided I didn't need another thing in my life. I bypassed the line of people buying books and took my place in the meet and greet line. There were maybe 100 people in front of me...

Mario showed up promptly at 12:30 pm. He gave a short talk about the goodness of fresh quality seasonal ingredients. He told everyone to go buy a vegetable you've never eaten, cut it up, put a bit of oil on it, season to taste, and bake for 30 minutes. He guaranteed it would be wonderful. He also stressed that there was no "right" or "wrong" in cooking. If it tastes good to you, it is "right." The meet and greet started after that.

There was a professional photographer taking photos of everyone with Mario. We were told when we entered that we could not take any personal photos but that the professional photos would be available free of charge at their website. As people started filing through, Mario would talk to them, thumb through his book and autograph it if you had a book, and then take a photo. He took at least a minute with everyone.

The couple behind me asked me the time. They commented that they had been to book signings before where there was a "prepper" at the table that would open the books for the author as soon as you got there so the author could sign his name, shake your hand, and then move on. Mario, on the other hand, was chatting and thumbing through his books, conversing, and then taking photos. They thought the man was wonderful for taking the time to do this but they had another commitment that afternoon.

By now I'm sure you've done the math...

There was NO WAY Mario was going to "meet and greet" 400 people in 30 minutes. Regretfully, I couldn't stay either. At 1:00pm there were still at least 30 people in front of me. The open rehearsal was more important. I got out of line and left.

Today I got an interesting email from the bookseller Barnes and Noble. On Black Friday they were releasing a variety of books that had been signed by the author. Part of the emailed stated:

All told, participating Signed Edition authors each signed close to 4,500 books, averaging 12 hours’ worth of signing at a rate of 400 books per hour, and used over 3,150 pens in total.

Hmmm... so if it takes one hour to just continuously sign 400 books I wonder how long it took Mario to see all those people yesterday. Truly he was overbooked. I wonder how long he was there. Did he have another commitment that he had to rush off to too or did he stay to satisfy his fans? Surely they didn't spend the night at the grocery store (a minute a person X 1200 = 20 hours!)

Looking at our own lives, how often do we overbook ourselves? I know I'm guilty far too often. Then, do we disappoint or do we gut it out in misery? I'd rather not do either. Perhaps the answer is to just say "no". Get over that Fear Of Missing Out.Yesterday was another nudge of a reminder to me. Be more present in what we are doing now. Have the time to sip some tea and enjoy more peaceful sunsets...

My cold November sunset... it was actually raining but the sky was beautiful!

1 comment:

  1. A perfectly-timed post. I think I literally used a shoe-horm to get everything into yesterday and today. Crazy! Congrats on passing up the book, too. ;)