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 ;)

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