Monday, September 28, 2009

Dental Gossip

Since I work in a small office everyday, and mainly only deal with clients in their environment I am unfamiliar with the unspoken rules for certain professions as far as Dr./Patient relations are concerned, but I would like to make a suggestion. If you are a dentist, or a dentist's assistant, do not talk to your clients. They A: can not respond and 2: have no interest in what you do in your spare time (especially if it is directly related to anything you do with your hands).

This is how my dentist visit went this morning, and this is why I feel so strongly about having professional unspoken rules. I first had a long conversation with myself about whether or not to wear shorts because although it is warm out I was positive that I did not want the Dentist to be checking me out in any way, shape or form. After realizing that the dentist would not be in because it is Monday (and Yom Kippur) I put on my shorts and got on the road.

When I got to the office I was greeted by the receptionist and quickly shuffled back to a room by the dental assistant. Right out of the gates I sit down, legs up, and she says, "wow what a tan you have" I should have worn the pants.

After sitting in silence, she finally reclined my chair and started the cleaning. Immediately the questions start coming, "What do you do for work?" "Did you travel this summer?" "Where did you go to college?" "Where are you from?" Now clearly my mouth is open, I am drooling, my lipgloss is being smeared all over my face, and there is no chance of me responding. Could these questions have been asked in the previous 10 minutes I sat there while she prepped....probably.

Finally the questions stopped so I could stop grunting "uuaaayyhhh" in an attempt to answer them. I'm not sure if she got the vibe, or if those were her standard questions she asks so she doesn't feel guilty and can get right on to talking about herself, but I was stoked she was finished. Or so I thought.

Because silence is not comforting for her she proceeded to let me in on how her weekend went, her likes and dislikes, favorite foods, you name it I found out about it. She and her girlfriends went out on Saturday to a restaurant that was packed. After waiting for a table they noticed a friend of a friend at the bar (apparently he is British, really old and unattractive) and because they were desperate for a seat they sent him a wave and cruised over. He was sitting with his friends (more unattractive and even older) and they quickly offered her and her extremely hot friends a seat. One of the men, who was like a Soprano (Italian, old, fat, perverted and loud) proceeded to tell her a story about how he was dating this chick and they just went to a swingers party last weekend and then he got into detail about what they did, etc. etc. As she is telling this to me she says, "I was thinking to myself, why is he telling me this?" which is so funny because as she was saying that to me I was thinking the exact same thing. When someone tells you something that you don't want to hear in the first place, I'm pretty sure that none of your friends are going to want to hear that same story from you at another time, let alone one of your patients. She also let me know that the Soprano paid for her dinner ($130) and again for a bottle of wine they had ($140) and that her boyfriend is super cheap. To top it all off she started singing along with the radio periodically. Reminder: this is my appointment that I am paying for not America's Got Talent.

TMI assistant! I don't want to know about how hot your friends are, or about the cougar adventures you take on your time off. I want to have my teeth cleaned, get some free travel toothpaste and get the hell out of there.

Moral of the story, if you are a dentist or a dental assistant, remember that your patients are in your office to get their teeth cleaned. If they wanted advise on life they'd see a therapist and if they wanted to gossip they'd probably hang out with their friends.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

In case you missed an Episode

Hulu now has all 8 episodes up and running. Check it out

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Yard Sale Anonymous

Hello everyone, my name is Vanessa Henderson and I am addicted to selling things.

Ahhhh....yard sales. We all yearn to get rid of crap, clean house, move on, get a grip on our new lives and what better way to get that ball rolling then to have a yard sale?!

Advice to anyone who loves to gamble and is also ready to have a yard strong, don't waiver, because you will get addicted to selling your shit, and you will want to sell everything you have. And once you have sold everything at your yard sale (which may pour into a few yard sales and some craigslist items because you can't help yourself) don't allow yourself to start selling things you just purchased, or that don't belong to you, because I can guarantee you that is where you will end up, its the rock bottom of yard selling, and its not pretty. Yard sales are for the strong, the sober and the non-addictive types. This is why last weekend when I decided to have a yard sale, I really should have talked to a sponsor about it.

Once I set my mind to it, it was "look out everything I own because you will be sold this weekend." I set a goal to get rid of everything I hadn't used in the past 6 months to a year, which automatically qualifies everything in my storage unit (minus my Anna Sui shoes, some signed footballs, a couple more pairs of shoes, my favorite winter coat, and some important documents ;) everything else must go!!!!

I did the deed, I advertised the sale on craigslist and posted signs, it was official my stuff would be sold. This is where the need to get rid of stuff starts to kick in because it's only Monday and the sale isn't until Saturday, but my apartment was full of boxes packed with things to sell and I needed it out of there stat-pronto, what to do?! I started posting the large items on craigslist, and one by one they began to sell. This is where yard sale-ing really is like an addiction, I had random people stopping by my apartment at all hours of the day and night to pick up things that were only available for cash, no checks, can't have the paper trail. And I found myself getting such a rush every time someone drove away from the front window, knowing that those things were not mine anymore, and that I had some sweet sweet cash from it to add to the stash.

So it's the day of the sale, I've already been awake on a tagging binge for at least 24 hours. I arrive to set up at 6:00 and people are already lingering, and its funny because they are pacing back and forth, looking over the fence with their hands in their pockets and it was then I realized that my same need to get rid of stuff as fast as possible was just as strong as their need to purchase and store completely useless things that they may or may not already have one or more of. Because honestly, although a lot of the stuff I was selling was super legit, there was a lot of crap there too. I wanted to warn these people, somehow save their lives....don't do it, you don't need this shit (especially to the woman who bought all of my used candles for $1 a piece, seriously what are you going to do with those?!) But I didn't, I just stood there shouting across boxes and tables with glassware on them "$1," "50 cents," "$3 for all of them," until slowly (seriously slowly I was there until 2pm) almost everything was gone.

As I boxed up the left overs (and the high priced things I am now selling on craigslist) I felt a huge sense of relief. This weight has come off my shoulders, I no longer own anything that I don't need or love (of course, again, except for my Anna Sui shoes and a few other random fashion items ;) So long 1 hour red high heels that look smokin' hot but I always get stuck wearing for at least 4 or 5 hours until I think my feet are going to fall of my legs. And good-bye killer goth jacket that I thought I would wear when I was feeling really dark and intense and never did because when I felt that way I never went anywhere. My life can start fresh, my closet doesn't have faded old tank tops falling out of it anymore, and my shoes that are left are all comfortable, trendy and totally wearable.

I hope that this blog inspires all the women and men out there who just have way too much crap to get rid of it. Let it go. What is the point? Why pay to store things you don't use anymore? It's not worth it, life goes on. I know that you don't want to get rid of the cheerleading outfit you were wearing when you smoked your first bowl after a freshman football game, or the T-shirt you won for eating a huge steak at AJ Spurs at a dudes night out (no names mentioned....Ben), but I can guarantee you that you will feel better when you do (Ben), and so will everyone around you (especially your significant other ;).

Next on the list, Shoppers Anonymous.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Better Days

As I prepared myself to write about my bad luck streak I came across this quote and was reminded that life is all fun and games until the bad stuff happens to you, then...over goes back to being fun and games.

"A woman came home to find her husband in the kitchen, shaking frantically
with what looked like a wire running from his waist towards the electric
kettle. Intending to jolt him away from the deadly current she whacked him
with a handy plank of wood by the back door, breaking
his arm in two places. Until that moment he had been happily listening to
his Walkman."

After experiencing a long couple of weeks of bad luck I realized that I had become a bad luck stereotype fitting into the "when it rains it pours" and "it can only get better" categories. I thought I would share my bad luck streak with you because looking back on it now it was far more entertaining then terrible.

Where did it all begin? Ironically it was April Fools Day when things went from bad to worse. The day after the premiere of our show my grandma was admitted to the hospital, it was a very serious situation. I flew up to take care of her and make sure she was being treated well by the hospital. And while most people would find this a very sad and depressing experience, most people do not have my grandma in their lives.

Upon arriving at the hospital I went into my grandma's room where instead of getting the run down on the foods my grandma could and could not eat, what medications she was on, and when her physical therapist would be coming in, the nurse gave me a run down on where I could find her hairspray, comb, headbands, and make-up. The first words out of my grandma's mouth were, "I need to get my hair done and a pedicure, let's get out of this place." Mind you my grandma had just woken up out of a two week coma and was hooked up to lord knows how many alarms and gadgets (one being the alarm my mom asked them to put on her because she had already tried to escape). As I sat with my grandma over the next few days I was reminded of why I don't want kids for a long time and of how unique (and by unique I mean absolutely vain) my grandma really is. Not only did she attempt to escape with every excuse possible she was also trying to get real food from me (as she was only allowed liquids, no solid food or snacks). Every morning her routine was put on purple eyeshadow (or pink depending on her headband), pink lipstick, get a mani/pedi (by moi), brush her hair for at least 30 minutes (mind you her hair was not going anywhere, especially into a style suitable for a break-out), and then she would have me put a flower in her hair. She then reminded me that the flower needed to be on the right side so that everyone would know she was single. Her life in the hospital revolved around how good she looked, everything else was secondary. As I sat there with my hair not brushed, a sweat suit on, and no make-up the only thing I could think of was "I might look like shit, but these pretzels are damn good."

As I returned home to LA, a few weeks later, I was informed that our TV show had been cancelled from TV and would only be airing online. Bummed out I headed to the mall to grab a bite to eat (code for a Pinkberry). After indulging myself I went back to my car where I was greeted by a little old lady parked in front of me. Note: her car was facing out the wrong way meaning she had to either of backed in (not likely) or swooped in by my car to the spot in front of mine. As this women proceeded to mumble something to me with a nervous grin on her face I was in my own little world and just waved and said something along the lines of "oh yeah...have a nice day" Upon reaching my next destination I got out of my car, made a delivery, and this is when tragedy struck. My car had been completely side swiped! It was then that I knew that this foreign little old lady had been saying "Sorry I hit your car, is everything ok, please don't be pissed at me" while I just waved her on with a "have a nice day" Unbelievable, after being with my grandma in the hospital I could not believe that another little old lady had gotten the best of me.

A few days later I went to the post office to dispute a package that had been returned to my attention with a note from the postmaster "not a valid address". Mind you I ship stuff to this address quite often so I knew that was not the case. As I approach the counter and explain my story the asian woman says to me "Who write this? This like fantasy land. This handwriting so bad." This is when I let her know that I wrote it, and that I'd like her to get out of her fantasy land and mail my damn package.

The next day I head to work, business as usual. Now, for the most part LA gets perfect weather year round, this day was windy. As I was loading boxes into my car I bent over to pick one final box up and this is when it hit me....literally. Something large came from behind me and knocked me completely over (it happened to be the busiest day for pedestrians that day for some reason, lucky me) as I struggled to figure out what had hit me, people were already picking up the object and helping me up with the casual "are you ok?" And I was ok, that is why my reply to the gentleman who was kind enough to grab the object was, "yeah I'm fine, I'm just pissed" I had realized at this point that what had hit me was a huge palm leave, what are the chances? After living in LA for over 5 years and always seeing these huge things in the road I had always wondered if anyone ever got hit by one, well the answer was yes, and that person was me. It was like the freaking Wizard of Oz, I couldn't believe it. Maybe my hand writing was from fantasy land because at this point I felt like I was living in one.

Some people are either born with luck or they just don't have any at all. The catch is that those that are born with it experience the full spectrum. They experience good luck just as often as they do bad. I guess I was overdue for some bad....job well done got me!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Episode #8 - V is for Victory

Kelsey and I made it through all the blandness, dropped tacos, spilt wine, over and under cooked meals, lost forks and knives, and everyone and everything in between. We prevailed and came out on top, and would not have had it any other way. 
Now back to the show....

Upon return from winning the museum challenge Kelsey and I were under the impression we were headed back to Crimson, a red restaurant ready for service. We could not have been more surprised when we walked through those doors. Everything was white, there was no furniture, no decor, new tables and glassware, new kitchen supplies it was amazing. Then it got better...on the counter was a binder with a note telling us that we had 3 days, $5k cash and $10k at Pier1 to create the restaurant of our dreams. OMG!!!!

We got straight to work. Kels and I had already talked about our design ideas and what we wanted, so we got our sign up, started the painting and hit the streets to get the goods we needed to make our restaurant dreams come true. 

Side-bar: We ran into Anapol and Lisa at Pier1 and we were joking around trying to see what they were getting, we had no idea Lisa had eaten a serious sandwich for breakfast. She should have named their restaurant "The No Fun Zone" because after we kicked their butts Lisa became the mayor of No Fun City. 

Back to the restaurant, because the show didn't fully communicate our theme below is a break down so you can get a better idea of what we were going for:

Name: "Restaurant C" which comes from our family name, our mother's name and to represent that we are from California (Nor-Cal Hella cool)
Colors: Chocolate brown, Tiffany blue, cream and silver
Decor: We did half the walls striped, half solid and then hung different types of "C's" on the walls so they weren't bland (like Marco thinks Kelsey is ;) We had killer water glasses, centerpieces and had "Restaurant C" spelt out in wooden/metal letters over the bar. It was to die for in there. Oh and I forgot to mention the silver and white leather flowers all the waitresses had in their hair, so cute!
Menu: We originally wanted tapas, but Marco talked us out of it with the legit idea that less is more. Since the walls were sort of candy shop-ish we themed the menu to go along with that and the California side of things. We had lamb lollipops and make your own mini ice cream sandwiches. Along with fish tacos (which originated in San Diego) and seared ahi with a tomato and avocado salsa. We brought back the lamb from the museum since it was such a hit, and had the cherries off the menu, but brought them to every table "compliments of the chef."

Three days of prepping for a restaurant is a lot of footage so you missed out on a lot of the hard work that went into the show. Particularly building those tables ourselves. We had to unwrap and build like 30 or 40 tables, it was insane. How Anapol did that on his own I will never know. Kelsey and I opened up some beers and went at it, by the end we were laying on our backs trying to get the last few screws in cracking up from exhaustion. I also had to carry every single one of our chairs up from the basement (30 stairs) it was a scene. 

Then we started unwrapping packages to get our decor out and ready to go. We basically purchased everything in our color pattern that we could from Pier1 and then just started playing with things. This is when we discovered the Foo Dogs and decided to bring one over to the other restaurant. As Kelsey and I watched the show it could not have been more hilarious. To first of all see know-it-all Lisa come out of the kitchen and get all spiritual like she totally knew everything was entertaining, but then the footage of her actually meditating with the thing put us way over the edge. Just amazing!

Cut to dinner service. We hired our peeps (Kelsey didn't get Mary, hellooo...didn't she see our family emergency!?) and got to it. Before the doors opened we were given guest books of who would be dining in our restaurants that night. I read through mine and recognized a lot of critics names which helped me to set up special tables for them, etc. Apparently this was not the case in the other restaurant. Rumor has it that Anapol didn't recognize one name in his book, which might have lead to why Marco didn't have a table. But definitely had nothing to do with how their dinner service went. Kelsey and I took Marco's advice "less is more" and "simplify" Kelsey prepared dishes she was comfortable with and knew were solid as to not stretch herself too far since she was already being the head chef in her own restaurant. There are a million other things to worry about, complicating your food is a poor choice. We did have a few issues with expediting and tickets getting moved around, but all in all everyone was fed, the night was a blast, and the restaurant was sexy as hell. The best part for me in front of house was that I was able to walk around and talk with every guest, check in on them to make sure they were happy, and catch up with the critics. At this point we have no idea how we are being judged so everyone is a critic, meaning everyone needed special attention. This is part of why we decided to not put the cherries on the menu. By leaving them off we could bring them out to every table as a special treat making our guests feel like we took the extra step to make our restaurant a success. 

Hands down the funniest part of the episode: When a guest asks Anapol for another glass of chardonnay and his response is, "yeah yeah, we're kicking you out of here in 5 minutes anyways" Who says that?! Did Anapol forget that he was running a restaurant in NYC on national TV? To have been a waiter your entire life and think that A: its okay to tell someone that and then B: when Marco Pierre White arrives at your door with Pierce Morgan to not have a table and to rudely let them know that is beyond me. When a celeb walks into your restaurant you get them a table especially if there is room enough for them to grab their own chairs. LOL! Reminding me of the second funniest part of the show, Marco spitting out Lisa's food. Amazing! Seeing those things gave us a hunch we might have this one in the bag...but it was still a close race. Lisa cooks amazing food and is definitely talented behind the stove so we were nervous that her food might be more impressive then ours and that we would only be judged on those things, like previous episodes. 

When Marco walked into our restaurant the mood changed. Everyone was silent (minus the phone ringing) I mean you could really sense the nerves in the room. Like I said, if he was going to announce us loosing in front of all those people we would have died. And we totally kept our cool because the last time we reacted we were super embarrassed because we thought we had won and we didn't. But once Marco finally let us in on the big news it was on!!! We could not have been more excited!!! To win something like this on your own is amazing, but to be able to share it with your sister and really make our family proud was out of this world. I'd break it down like this: painters: $700, water glasses $300, being able to win a restaurant and a trip to London with your little sister on national TV: priceless. 

Soooo.....Kelsey and I did it, we went to NYC, we were on a national reality cooking show and we won!!!! In case you think that Kelsey and I happen to be some stupid chicks in LA that have everything handed to them and want to be a hater...then shame on you. Kelsey and I have worked for every single thing that we have, we have been up against some pretty steep obstacles, we are fighters and we are a team and we deserve to win this competition just as much as anyone else on the block. And thank you to everyone who has supported us through out the show, and through out our lives, it means the world to us both!!!

Kelsey and I both would do this again in a second. We loved the challenges, we loved the crew and all the people we met (minus a few people who we'd rather have our finger nails torn off before we had to see again) and we became closer as sisters. Restaurant or not, the experience was enough for Kelsey and I to be richer people. Although a grand prize of $250K, restaurant equipment and a trip to London helps us be a little richer too ;) 


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Episode #7 - Fingers and Youth

After shopping around in my mind last night post episode seven I've decided its a good thing Anapol and Lisa were the yellow team because envy was a really bad color on them. And poor sportsmanship really doesn't flatter grey hair or old women very well either. I could not believe that Lisa could be so mean and angry, she was so nice to our faces that it was a shocker to see her bad attitude during confessionals. More on that later... I've decided that the most entertaining aspect of the entire show was actually the stuff they didn't show.

Once our challenge has been laid out for us the Executive Producers came over and explained the rules, budgets, time constraints, etc. Here is where the competition really began. If you remember I had received a $100 tip from Vinny in a previous episode, so this meant that Kelsey and I actually had $600 for this challenge and they only had $500. Anapol lost it, he didn't think it was fair we got to use that money, and we battled it out for a while before the producers were like sorry Charlie, its her money fair and square. Here is what they didn't show. While we were shopping at Eli's I decided to use the extra $100 to purchase the centerpieces for the restaurant we were to be sharing, so essentially I ended up using the extra money for both of us, which I think made Lisa and Anapol that much more annoyed with the whole situation. 

Looking back, Kelsey and I really never attacked anyone, we worked as a team, and we worked with other teams, we never had a bad attitude or conveyed poor sportsmanship. But it seems like every other team at every opportunity took a serious stab at Kelsey and I. Panya pulling the race card amongst other things out on me, Sam freaking out about how much cuter she is then me (even though she's not going to get into it), Lisa thinking Kelsey is an idiot, and the list goes on. It really is shocking for Kelsey and I as we watch because hand down every day we'd say hello, good morning, how are you to everyone, even giving them compliments having no clue they were all trash talking behind our backs. I guess killing them with kindness was really working.

Back to the action, during the 5 or 6 hours we had to prep for the dinner service Kelsey got started in the kitchen and I hit the pavement to get gold leaf and a cherry pitter. Those two things might have taken me 2 hours to get with traffic, but I knew that our dessert had to be amazing because it would be the last thing the critic would eat. And Anapol and Lisa were throwing a fit that I wasn't there to unpack dishes, but what would Anapol have been doing if I was there? I would have been unpacking boxes and he would have been folding napkins or something. Truth of the matter is that I can do things twice as fast as Anapol, we had 20 minutes before dinner service and I set the tables, folded the napkins and placed the centerpieces with no problem. Marco was testing us to see how we would work as a team, and Kelsey and I were going to support each other before anyone else, she needed these things for her dessert so I got them. 

Cut to wine pairing which was barely mentioned on the show. Front of house had to pair wines with each of the chefs dishes. I let Anapol choose first he decided on his wines and then I went with what was left. Anapol chose the Claret to go with Lisa's fillet which has a cab sav sauce, and the critic really let him have it for that choice. I mean hello, cab sav sauce, serve cab sav. And her comment about loving the sparkling with the cherry was great, I had planned that out. Champagne is sexy and fun, and so was our dessert choice and I wanted the critic to get that that's what Kelsey and I were trying to convey. 

Another thing that Kelsey and I found more then entertaining was how Lisa was always so quick to jump on things before Kelsey and how many times it bit her in the ass. Case #1: Kelsey does lamb and Lisa clearly stats, "I would never have done lamb in that kitchen but I kept my mouth shut" like she was sabotaging Kelsey. Then later when Marco talks about it she's like "oh yeah I thought about doing lamb" it's like make up your mind and be honest with yourself. Case #2: then she bully's Kelsey so she can  be first on the menu. Dude, I watch top chef, I know going second is gives you far more of an advantage so when she came bolting up (behind Kelsey's back) to change the menu I was like game on bitches!!! 

The only thing that was blown out of proportion was Anapol throwing Kelsey and I under the bus for not knowing what her dish was and mis-explaining it to Marco and his date. I honestly think he just didn't know what it was, and instead of saying let me go check like a normal waiter would have done, he started an explanation and got stuck with it. I don't think he was trying to malicious at that point. However, I did hear him talking smack about Kelsey's food later on in the evening, and there really is no excuse for that he was straight up throwing us under the bus. Karma people...have you not been watching what happens to everyone else who is mean on the show....they get the boot!!!

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Kelsey and Lisa had set up a plan on how to deal with the small place and large quantities of food being served. They would plate their own dishes and then the other chef would help get them into the dumb waiter. Well the reason it looked like Kelsey was asking for help was because while she was plating her dishes Lisa wasn't loading them into the dumb waiter. End of day, Marco and Lisa can make Kelsey out to be helpless and weak all they want, but she continues to pull through and cook amazing food. Whether Lisa helped plate dishes or not it was Kelsey's recipe and natural talent as a chef that made the dishes what they were and that is what the critic was really judging. 

Post judgement, and thinking we had won the whole thing, we all walked outside. I congratulated Lisa on her hard work and effort and she wouldn't even look at me or respond. I don't care who the F you are, have some tact. I would have thought that after 30 years of being a chef at a million fancy restaurants and being accustom to working with high end clientele and having all that experience Lisa would know how to handle herself in this type of situation, not the case. People's true colors come out when they loose or are put up against a wall. I mean to talk all that shit and loose must have really hurt. Kelsey and I never counted our chickens before they hatched, we took everything as it came and enjoyed every opportunity we were given, I mean helloooo....people would die to be able to do what we were doing how could we be negative in a setting like the one we were in? It really bummed us out that she was such a poor sport. 

Restaurant or not, at least we still have our fingers and youth!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Episode #6 - Who's Dreamin' now?!

So the final three came down to East vs. West, Red vs. Black, Married vs. Divorced (and two single chicks)...and it ended up being a classic show down. First of all, there was not another couple in the other restaurant we would rather have been going up against for a spot in the final two. Sheri and Dean are real fighters, they are amazing in the front and back of house, and they give their heart and soul but at the end of the day to own a restaurant you have to naturally think outside the box, be creative and inventive not only with your food, but with your decor and front of the house presentation and out of the three couples I think the West Coast had them beat on all fronts. 

The Great White Challenge: Hands down the hardest thing to that day Kelsey was faced with. Re-creating Marco's dishes with experience and time is hard enough, but not having either of those made this challenge almost hard to watch. What they didn't show was that once Dean started tasting Marco's sauces the producers came right in and took them away, so neither Kelsey or Lisa had that opportunity. What would have been fair, since Dean has already been tasting them for 5 minutes would be to let the girls have another taste, but that wasn't the way the cookie crumbled. Once again Lisa decided to trash talk Kelsey acting like she wasn't a team player, but if you look closely Kelsey was screwed either way. She could let both Lisa's dishes count and be called a coward who always lets Lisa lead, or she could insist that one of hers count and look like she wasn't a team player, and we all know how it ended up. I remember Kelsey coming back to the restaurant after this challenge, border line tears, and she and I had to have a sister to sister re-grouping to get back in the game. Truth of the matter was that everyone (producers, contestants and Marco) were trying to make Kelsey feel like she wasn't a strong enough competitor. Thank goodness Marco pointed out that Kelsey is like the tortoise, she may be quite and start off slow, but her food makes a statement every time with the critic and she gets her job suck it anti-Kelsey's!!! And being in the final two as the youngest and least experienced team says enough about the strengths that she and I have as a team.

This gets me into another topic that really isn't shown on the show. Kelsey and I working as a team within a team. It really doesn't come through but she and I helped each other out as well. Kelsey helped clean and fold napkins in the front of the house and I made desserts and prepped for the back of the house. I never saw Anapol in the kitchen, and forget about Lisa coming helping front of house. Kelsey and I both have the skills to be in either area of a restaurant. Granted Kelsey was born to be a chef, and I love to schmooze, but if needed we could both switch and survive, which comes into play in next weeks episode. 

Back to breakfast and lunch. Breakfast started out with a bang. It's funny how we were told there would be 40 people for breakfast and 40 for lunch, yet our restaurant seated at least 65 people and was booked to the max, and we turned tables. 40 people my ass!!! Breakfast was a blast, everyone loved it and all of the people eating in the restaurant for that service were related to the show (friends, family and neighbors of producers or people working on the show) so seeing familiar faces and being able to chit chat was really nice. 

Cut to lunch...strangers again! The Riedel family (glassware sponsor) came in for lunch, I think they showed me using their dark purple decanter to pour the wine they were drinking. So once again I was waiting on the sponsors and the critic. As soon as Andrew Knowlton walked in I recognized him. Mainly because I am the biggest Iron Chef fan there is, and he is always on that show. And he does guest appearances on Top Chef every now and again, which coincidentally was on while we were in NY and he was on the show (very surreal). 

So despite Anapol insisting that there was no way we could have won the breakfast/lunch challenge, we did! Which leads me to a total side bar. It is at this point in the show that Anapol becomes exhausted, negative and kind of like and old lady that's been played. He starts complaining, thinking people are sabotaging us, and really rubbing customers the wrong way. That combined with his mad scientist hair (on his head and chest) and blunt humor, makes for a very interesting episode come next week. 

All and all I loved that the four California contestants are going to the finals (Dream on Angie). All of us are creative, hip and passionate. We all love to compete, we keep it clean (minus Lisa's foul mouth, the woman no joke has the mouth of a truck driver and ship captain combined) and we are all good at what we do. I honestly don't feel that any of the other teams would have had the skills to go up against what we go up against, which leads back to why we are in the finals in the first place. Kelsey and I got lucky, we stayed on the show by default on select episodes, but we also worked our butts off we proved to Marco that we learn fast and that we can produce quality results (plus who are we kidding Kelsey is the hottest chef the kitchen has ever seen, so being easy on the eyes wasn't working against us that's for sure). Let's just hope we can stand our ground and survive. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Episode #5 - Hot or Not

Italians ain't got nothin' on us...maybe because Kelsey and I are Italian, or maybe it's because Kelsey and I continue to get 'er done. It's week 5 out of 8 and Kelsey and I are still goin' strong. We've survived blind date night (with Kelsey's dish being the critics favorite), we've survived opening night (with me never having been a waitress and rockin' the house), we powered through the brick wall (She's real, she's about respect...Panya everyone) and now we have held strong through an Italian lunch service. 

Here is a lead up to our Italian lunch service. The producers told us that a bunch of Italian families would be dining in our restaurant. The morning of service a prop guy shows up with 3 extra high-chairs, hello red flag, we knew that there were going to be kids that day. So we prepped the chefs and had the high-chairs ready to go. As families started trickling in I began seating them one by one. 

Everything comes in threes, at least this is the word on the street and for Italian day it was spot on. Guest #1: Mario Batali the king of Iron Chef and Italian cooking. Not only am I a huge fan of this man, he is a world renowned chef and a good friend of Marco's so the pressure was on to remember the menu, get their food out and make their lunch enjoyable. Cut to guests #2, a huge Italian family walks in and sits at my table. Now mind you I have never really watched the Soprano's so to me this was just another Italian family from New York. The reality of things was that my table was full of the Soprano's family, Vinny and at least 3 or 4 other cast members. And when did I find this out, oh don't worry, half way through service when one of the producers finally said, do you have any idea who those people are? They ended up being my favorite table, such warm and friendly people. Finally guest #3, Coleman Andrews, the food critic. Wouldn't you know that all of them sat in my section, and all of them left with in the hour being fed and satisfied. 

What you didn't see was Mario's amazing orange croc's, Vinny tipping me with a hundred dollar bill (even though I refused it several times) which totally comes into play later on in the game, along with other tips I started to get from guests (hey, its not my fault I'm a killer waitress). And the most hilarious thing that no one saw was how innocent Kelsey and I were to everyone's wrath. We had no clue that Sam or Lisa were so out to get us, and we didn't really care. We just did our thing, worked as a team within a team and it worked for us. 

Let me give you a little background to the Sam blow-up about how she is hotter then me. The morning of the last episode I was in the elevator with Sam and Angie. Now we had been told to wear something grubby as we would be painting that day so I'm wearing camo cargo pants and a white T, not these two. Sam is wearing a silk pink flowered dress with stilettos and her hair all did. I proceed to say "Wow, you look cute today" and you will die when you hear the response I got. First Sam proceeds to say, "I know" and then, as if it couldn't get more egotistical, Angie follows that up with "She always looks this good" Oh My Goodness....I was shocked, although I shouldn't have been given how vain and selfish they had been the previous three weeks. I mean what do you say to that? "My bad, I forgot you are always hot?" Or should I have said "Oh yeah you are a beauty queen, what was I thinking of course you always look that good?" So I got out of the elevator and thought nothing of it...I've thought nothing of it up until last night when I watched the show. And the truth of the matter is that I probably was a better waitress then her, everyone who sat at any table I served through out the entire show, was not only treated like they were the food critic, they were treated like they were my personal friends and family and that is what serving people in a restaurant is all about, making people feel at home without being intrusive, and I mastered that. Maybe if she would have stepped up as a waitress from the beginning instead of sitting back and bar tending the first few weeks she would have had a chance to step up her game, its not my fault her strategy was to do nothing. 

And all of this Lisa bashing Kelsey stuff is so out of line. First of all Kelsey went to school for 2 years, not 2 months. And so what if Lisa worked at Spago, of course she is going to have more experience she's in her 50's, and  I'm pretty sure she wasn't cooking for Madonna right out of school, or working as the head chef at a L'Ermitage hotel at 22. Kelsey is an amazing cook, she is quiet and reserved so people interpret her to be lazy and not up for the challenge, but she is, and she always comes out on top. Go sister!!!

Marco broke down the elimination to us later letting us know that Angie had pointed in his face and was way out of line. When we heard that Kelsey and I both thought, man this woman really is crazy. She just doesn't have any respect for anyone, no wonder her restaurant shut down and her daughter has a horrible attitude. 

On to our next challenge, breakfast and lunch service. Bring it on Lisa, Anapol, Sheri & Dean because our California Dreamin' ain't goin' no where. We are ready to fight for ourselves and to fight for our child (oh no wait that's not us, that's Angie, I mean who says that, and who says "God will strike you down"I will never cease to be amazed by other people) Go Red Team!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Episode #4 - Get a Room

If you haven't found it yet, new episodes of The Chopping Block will air at the regular time Wednesdays at 8:00pm on As always behind the scenes and confessionals are on

This weeks episode was all about aphrodisiacs, romance and sex (finally something our team could relate too) I mean come on people, our restaurant is full of a bunch of fun loving west coast California liberals who love to indulge, aphrodisiacs were right up our alley. 

The Great White Challenge was for the chefs to prepare a sexual meal for a romantic dinner. The Black Team ended up serving Marco rice pudding, not well thought out. As I mentioned in my confessional their dish looked like the ocean had thrown up on their plate, pretty much the last thing I would want to consume before a serious make-out session. So of course the Red Team won, Lisa and Kels rocked the house and brought home the best prize yet a wine tasting with Adam Fisher a world renowned Sommelier from Astor Wines. Not only did we sit down and taste amazing fine wines with him, he taught us about food and wine pairing, then we all sauntered down to his store to pick out a few wines to serve in our restaurant for date night. To give you an idea of what shopping in Astor Wine is like, think about being a kid in a candy store except everything is expensive and your mommy is NBC so you can basically get anything you want (and we totally did). 

Getting ready for date night was a blast. We decided to get red roses and give a red rose to every woman that came through the door (and I kept saying sorry to all of the guys for one-upping them but seriously its not my fault chivalry is dead) I also wanted to put something fun and sassy on the menu so I wrote up a quick introduction to sort of break the ice for everyone. It went something like this, "Ladies & Gentlemen! Like all great duos (Ricky & Lucy, Bonnie & Clyde) one beautiful thing compliments the other. Tonight Crimson would like to showcase our house duos of wine and food for your romantic dates" The real one was far catchier, but you get the idea. I wanted to make this as welcoming as possible, and I love being cute and clever so the roses and the menu were right up my alley. And it paid off, having these things helped us to break the ice with the guests who were seated alone and still waiting for their dates. 

The night rocked! I knew we were going to win we had special wine, flowers, and Kelsey and Lisa in the kitchen. Let me touch on the kitchen for a second as well. As much as Lisa wanted to knock Kelsey for being inexperienced and slow in the kitchen there tends to be a strong pattern of the critics liking her dishes the best, so take that!!! Kelsey is like the tortoise of the kitchen, slow and steady, she doesn't yell she doesn't push or shove, she just gets her job done and feeds the people, and that is what running a restaurant is all about. 

On that same note running a restaurant is also all about schmoozing, so I quickly picked up the skill of being a professional schmoozer. I learned right away that in order to make people happy you just have to keep bringing them things. At one point I stopped taking dessert orders all together and just started bringing out a dessert sampler. In the restaurant business there are a few catch phrases that can really save the day, the one that I adopted was "compliments of the chef" You can bring bread and butter out and say "compliments of the chef" and your table will think they are the only people in the restaurant. I was eating out the other day and that happened and I seriously thought the restaurant thought I was someone else. Running a restaurant is about creating an experience for people, and how you approach your table is key. 

This leads me into dinner service and the critic. Marco had lectured FOH about keeping our cool and not acting crazy even though we were totally insane. He had particularly lectured Anapol about being a little friendlier, and this issue came up again when the critic came in this episode. She felt rushed, over looked and anxious because thats how Anapol felt. Once again, I saved the day by clearing her plates and rushing her out dessert so she and her faux date could make it over to the other restaurant (check out the critics review online for the full scoop). I'm sorry, I may have zero experience as a server, and you could tell me to 86 and 95 things all day long and it wouldn't mean jack to me, but I can schmooze, booze and peruse and those are the real skills behind serving people. 

Moral of the story: You are what you eat! And the Red Team came out of this challenge sexy and seductive. We wined and dined our blind daters with aphrodisiac foods that had one couple needing to get a room, another playing footsie, and a few others tipping me to join in on their action. 

Next up on the Chopping Block, we head to Little Italy to taste sweet balsamic and get ready to serve up a restaurant full some of the finest people around...Italians!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Episode #4 - NBC sans TCB

If you haven't already heard, The Chopping Block has been cancelled/postponed I'm really not sure which. Either way, I could not be more heart broken. To take 30 days out of my life to film a show, then wait a year for it to air, and then to have it be cancelled after only the first 3 weeks is...for lack of a better word....real sucky!!! Because I know what Episode #4 was about I was stoked on watching this week. And because the devil is no longer on the red team I was even more stoked for American to really get to know my sister and I. 

Instead of watching The Chopping Block tonight I will be heading to a Martini Lounge in Beverly Hills to drink Martini's with some chefs (my sister included) and bartenders so they can knock them off for their own hotel bar ;) Yes, I have gone from a reality star to a boot-legger and although I hope American can see the entire saga of TCB, drinking martini's in Beverly Hills will do me just fine for now. 

And until the show is picked back up I will be sharing stories and experiences from my everyday life and introducing you to some of the amazing characters in it who have made me who I am today. I hope you find them as entertaining as I do. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

Episode #3 - Desperado

Let's Tarantino this episode and start with Panya and Michael getting the chop. I think the confessionals online really capture how I feel about Panya and her attitude ( The woman is a brick wall in the worst sense possible (Not to be confused with a "brick house" which I would definitely give her credit for if she was). It didn't matter what you were saying to her or how you said it she would just continue right on with the handful of phrases she wanted to communicate: "I'm real" "Respect" "Lets be honest" "Excuse Me". On the flip side, her husband Michael was great! He rocked it in the kitchen, he was a team player, and I'll give him some credit, he was pretty funny too (wanting to call the restaurant "A Taste of Thyme" hilarious)! But as we all learned during the course of things, you choose who you are going to compete on the show with, and if you don't choose wisely that person can bring you (and the team) down big time. 

Things that you didn't see. I came in that morning wanting to resolve things with Panya, talk it out so that we could get through the day. She wanted nothing to do with me and I actually had to give up trying to communicate with her because I couldn't get a word in without her jumping down my throat. So I decided that I was going to let her call the shots, run the show, let her 15 years of experience shine. And she still couldn't tolerate it...she had to keep digging deeper and deeper. I'd ask her if she had time to fold the napkins, her response "YES MOTHER" when she asked if anyone would like to go over her table set up and I said yes, her response "Of course Vanessa has to look over it, she has to be in control of everything" the most amazing thing she said to me that I will never forget was "Vanessa, honey, sometimes when you think you are in control you are really out of control" Unbelievable, the definition of that my friends is projecting. Panya was the most out of control, disrespectful, and dishonest person I have ever tried to work with. And if you know me, you know that I like everyone and hate to argue, so this woman really had to nasty. 

Earlier that day our our team and I separately took Michael aside and basically said listen up, we need to be a team, Panya needs to get it together or we aren't going to win this, and he took her aside and had a long talk with her. After that she proceeded to write her tickets the wrong way after several other dinner services of doing them the same way, she never changed her attitude towards me, and we all saw her loose it during elimination. Like she said, she and Michael were ready to do everything it took to stay on the show, even if that meant looking like a desperate fool and pulling the race card. Rediculous! There are a million movie quotes here that I could use to describe my feeling towards all races (Jerry McGuire is the first that comes to mind) but it really doesn't come down to that. 

Last weeks episode came down to teamwork and being a team player. The first advice Marco gave us out at the food trucks was "Work as a team" and at the end of the day its the truth. Trying to run a restaurant is hard. But trying to run an understaffed restaurant where everyone is eating for free and one of your waitresses is insane is much much harder. 

I'd love to close this with a note about next weeks episode, but I have been informed that TCB has been postponed, and we have no idea how long. I guess the heat in the kitchen just wasn't as hot as some of the American Idol contestants. As soon as I know about the show I will be sure to update everyone. Until then...keep your friends close and get your enemies the F out of the kitchen!!!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Episode #2 - The Crazy

I think the saying is "if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen" and I'm pretty sure there is a similar saying that goes something like "if you are front of house get out of the kitchen" or at least there should be. Why Panya thought she had the right so make such strong accusations about the chefs and their performance after not being the kitchen the entire night, except for when she told the chefs to fire the salads that Michael freaked out about, I will never know the answer. 

Another thing I will never know the answer to is why did the Black team think they had a chance at the decor challenge. I mean come on people, we had a gay guy and a set stylist in the front of house, wave your white flag already. 

But all of those things happened and there is nothing that can be done about them. But that is completely unrelated to what can be said about them....which is quite a bit. Because of editing and time soooo many things were left out of the show this week. Where shall I begin, is it with the "I'm Real" or "Excuse me" or the classic "Respect" that I heard over a hundred times from Panya. the women was a brick wall. It didn't matter how you tried to communicate with her, or what you tried saying, she not only didn't hear it at all she would proceed to go on and on about a million fabrications. I mean talk about kicking your team when its down, the last thing anyone should have done after our elimination was start an argument, but she just couldn't resist. And for someone who spent an hour lecturing all of us about "too many ego's" she was real quick to ignore how large and in charge her own was. Anyways, I could rant and rave about this woman's craziness for hours, but what would I talk about next week right (trust me she only gets crazier). I'd love to see what would happen if Angie and Panya were in an argument. I honestly think it would end in a draw after days and days of nonsense. 

Let me note my favorite moment of Week 2..."maybe they had a kitchen fire...or maybe a bunch of bee's" seriously guys bee's?!?! That's hands down one of the funniest things I've ever heard, love the Dane Cook reference!

With all craziness aside this weeks challenge was amazing. When we were told that we were going to be hosting a private event for Nicole Miller, I could not have been more excited. I not only love her shoes, I love fashion, and she's the queen of fashion. All of Nicole's friends were fantastic, I had a blast chatting it up with them and talking shoes. And I could not have been more flattered with the compliments I was getting on my outfit (pleated mini skirt, button up top, tights, knee high socks, and kitchen clogs) from fashionistas of NYC...such a dream!!!

I think I'm going to end this blog with a catchy phrase...a real classic cliche. I'm going to describe the Chopping Block as a bottle of fine only gets better with time! 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Episode #1 - Survival

As I exhale for the first time since last week I have started to realize what has just happened to me. I, Vanessa Henderson, a small town girl from Nor-Cal (hella cool) was just on national television and not on one of those "we'll put anything on the air" channels (no offense E! I'm sure "Hot Chicks in Scary Places" is getting great ratings) but on NBC, one of the big 3!!! 

People called me last week and were shocked that I'd be answering my calls, especially without the help of an assistant. What did they think I was doing, getting a manicure/pedicure while having someone dictate my current political ideas that I want to be sure and include in my Oscar speech if I ever become and actor who ever won an Oscar? Seriously, reality TV is real! Its filmed when its filmed, and it captures a real moment in real peoples lives, and then afterwards we all go back to the lives we were living before the show. But that's not what I created a blog for, I created a blog so I could give you the details and nitty gritty that was left off camera...the good shit if I do say so myself. 

I titled Episode One "survival" mainly because Kelsey and I survived week one and that point in the show that is all that mattered to us. First of all, let me be frank about this entire experience...nothing was scripted, everything was real and everyone felt the pressure. There were soooo many tasks at hand, no time available and a lot of strange personalities we were forced to work with, and by strange I mean completely crazy! 

Day one: We meet the other couples. Kelsey and I immediately wanted to be on a team with exactly who we were put on a team with (all of the letting people cut in front of me on the freeway, giving up parking spots, and volunteer work paid off). Once we met everyone we were giving our first "Great White Challenge" to get everything we can off of a truck and get it into our restaurants because we were going to be opening our restaurants the next night at 7:00pm for dinner. Now to the audience watching the show at 8:00pm on Wednesdays, they think oh well I could open a place in 24 hours...reality check...we had more like 10 hours to clean, unpack dishes and silverware, remember strangers names, cook, chop, prep, shop, etc. Not a lot of time when you factor in NYC traffic, not having resources to find where to shop and not even knowing where we were in NYC. We might as well have been on an island with the survivor teams. Cut to dinner service. Anapol was the bartender, Panya was the hostess and Mikey & I were waiters. I took the back half of the restaurant and Mikey took the front. Things definitely started out rough, the producers and editors made sure America got a look at that. What America didn't see was that after Lisa laid down the law with me I didn't make another mistake, I rocked the house, and ended up taking some of Mikey's tables towards the end. The most important table I picked up.....the Critics table. And thank the Lord that I did because not only did I get every part of his extremely difficult order perfect, I made eating in our restaurant an experience to remember. I brought life and love to the table...and they ate it up! And I didn't even know there was going to be a food critic, and that it was going to be my favorite customer of the night. 

Cut to elimination...the moment the critic walked into the room a huge smile filled my face, I knew we had it, and I hadn't even seen what happened in the black restaurant. Yes, the desserts were an after thought, most things were as we were all scattering to get things ready for the opening. But with Lisa as head chef and Mikey and I as waiters I knew the night would be a success and it was. Our team worked as a team, we respected each others strengths and weaknesses and we work with them, not against them. I was shocked (well not that shocked given the Mama Tyra and Tyra were on the black team) but for the most part shocked at how much no one wanted to work together on the black team. The first advice Marco had given us was to work together, and Marco doesn't say things unless they should be taken into consideration he is a very intense but very amazing man. 

Although we had passed the first test I knew we had a lot more coming our way, a lot more. And all of the excitement and adrenaline and hard work only made Kelsey and I want it more. All I wanted to do was get back in the restaurant and hear the next challenge....stay tuned....we did ;)