Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The night Bravo told me to stop tweeting

The back story....

I love Top Chef. I have seen every episode of every season, I have attended multiple live events and when I travel I eat at the restaurants of both the judges and contestants.
Last night I made plans to attend one of my favorite types of local events - a Beer Pairing Dinner at Luke. I am a foodie and I Facebook and tweet most everything I eat, so my phone was out and in full posting mode. These beer dinners are fantastic and this one in particular was made even better by the pairing of one of my favorite local brews Real Ale to the menu. To top it off I had the pleasure of befriending the Brew Master responsible for some of my favorite casked beers at the event - I was in heaven. Check out my Facebook page for a full rundown of the menu and paired beers - This was an amazing meal!

How it went down...

After dinner there was a recommendation from the Chef to check out a local bar for cocktails. He told me they had a Moscow Mule and that the bartender made his own Ginger Beer. I was sold on the idea immediately. My friends and I headed over and ordered tasty beverages.

This bar really was quite spectacular. The Esquire Tavern is the oldest bar on the River Walk and serves up some amazing tasty creations. It's a weeknight and was mostly dead when we arrived, but not for long. I turned my head and caught a glimpse of a beautiful bald man. I had to do a double take because one of my Friends bears a striking resemblance to this sex god of the foodie world ;) And sure enough it was the one and only Tom Colicchio of Craft Restaurants and Top Chef fame. I've adored him on TV and dined at his restaurants many times. He is simply stunning both in talent and looks. The buzzing of the crowd grew louder as other faces turned and were recognized.

Emeril Lagasse - who while amazingly famous and known to millions also happens to be the one responsible for my favorite stuffed chicken wing at his restaurant NOLA in my beloved New Orleans. I eat there every trip I make to that wonderful city.

Tre Wilcox who I had met at the Central Market Cooking School years ago when he taught a class and made one of the most tasty sea bass dishes I have had in my entire life - I said hi to him and he was super sweet and just as friendly as ever! Such a great guy and talented chef!

Gail Simmons - another member of Top Chef royalty - I'll get more to her later

Padma Lakshmi the amazingly beautiful and alluring goddess herself. She is even more amazing in person and it was all I could do to not go total fan girl and make an absolute fool of myself.

So I think my fellow foodies can understand how the atmosphere might change a bit having these people in the room. There were a handful of kitchen staff there from Luke. Our own local celebrity Steven McHugh was also in attendance after having made such a spectacular meal for us just hours before. I get foodie fan girl just being around him on a normal basis, so this night I was on overload.

I was lucky to have my dinner date with me for the night who kept me reigned in. I was flipping back and forth between my options: play it cool and enjoy your drinks with these amazing people, or go fan girl and start asking for pics and autographs. I opted for the play it cool and just enjoy the night. My phone was still out and I'm an avid tweeter so how could I not type in my few 140 characters or less possibly one of the greatest highlights of my foodie year?
Here's where things turn sour - On twitter I am a nobody or at least in the grand scheme of things I am a nobody. I have a tiny group of 500 followers or so. Some foodie friends, but mostly computer geeks like me from the other part of my world. Of those 500 followers none are paparazzi. Here are my tweets verbatim in the order posted:

I saw nothing wrong with any of these tweets - perhaps outside of my use of expletives, but really now - I was excited and dropping the f-bomb is not a punishable offense as far as I know unless you are 5 years old, and even then the punishments are light.
I was just hanging out with my friends, enjoying the evening and behaving myself. I wasn't snapping pictures, I wasn't asking for autographs, I was just doing the same thing they were - relaxing at a very cool bar, sipping at finely crafted beverages, chatting with the super talented bartender and having a good time with amazing people.

symigoddessAbout 50 minutes after that last tweet about my love for Padma a tall blond guy with walks over and places his Blackberry in my face with a picture of my twitter avatar on it and asks "Is this you"?

I politely yet quizzically respond "Yes" and the guy says to me in a very rude bad impersonation of my mother yelling at me tone "you need to stop tweeting... Now!"

I was in shock! I quickly turned on my phone and pulled up my twitter app to look for something awful - for a second I thought maybe my account had been hacked and someone was saying horrible bad things about these amazing people I adore - but no, just the few tweets above.

I have no idea who this guy is and I watch him walk back over to Gail Simmons and chat like this was normal acceptable behavior. My friends and I are all standing around in amazement and then my equally cute Tom Colicchio looking friend pulls out his phone and with amazing speed and dexterity displays a picture of Mike Score from Flock of Seagulls.

The resemblance to the rude Blackberry guy was incredible. And he went about responding to the jerk and defending my honor as an innocent tweeter. From here on out I will refer to him as Flock of Seagulls because he never did tell me his name. All I got later was that he worked for Bravo and was on the "job" that evening.

My Friend waves at the guy to come back over and when Flock of Seagulls arrives he pulls up the picture and asks "Is this you?"

Flock of Seagulls replies "Um, no"

Friend replies back with a "Oh, well you can go fuck yourself anyways" and a beautiful display of the middle finger to his face.

The flipping of the bird to Flock of Seagulls offender pretty much made my night :) As crude as it seems, there's something beautiful about that gesture when given with that kind of passion.

Flock of Seagulls turns to the bartender and attempts to get us kicked out of the bar.

Friend then says "Don't be a pussy."

Flock of Seagulls then backs into the slowly escalating crowd and people start sticking their nose in and asking me "OMG what just happened", "What did you do?" I'm just standing there in amazement.

My dinner date for the evening, in his very calm and graceful demeanor starts asking Flock of Seagulls what the problem is and is trying to diffuse the situation. Flock of Seagulls has backup posse forming and they start saying that saying that someone had dropped the truly offensive f-bomb and called him a "faggot". He's pointing his anger at my Friend. This is where things got ridiculous. None of my friends nor I would ever use that word. Hell, had I seen anyone use that term towards anyone Flock of Seagulls included, I would have kicked their ass out myself. I have no tolerance for that kind of hatred.

Next thing I know I am pressed with my back against the bar standing with Colicchio and my Friend inches from me as they exchange peace agreement terms. My dinner date is trying to help me figure out what's happening. Colicchio wants my Friend to apologize for calling Flock of Seagulls a pussy. My Friend counters with a request for Flock of Seagulls to apologize for being rude to me. Flock of Seagulls wants to do no such thing and starts spouting off that he was just doing his job.

Gail Simmons is now standing across from me joined in the fuss so I politely say "I have no idea what I did to offend you guys but I apologize for being a fan and complimenting you on twitter"

Gail says back to me "You tweeted this location and have compromised our ... " I'm not sure what it was she said through all the shouting but I'm pretty sure my simple tweets didn't compromise a thing or what she was so upset about. I didn't see anyone show up after my tweets and it has been over an hour by this point. I mean if a flood of fans spilled in and crashed their party I could see how she might be upset, but that didn't happen at all. I'm sorry Gail - I don't understand what made you so upset. I was tweeting my love and adoration!

Then next thing I know Flock of Seagulls is making an apology to me, Gail Simmons is shaking her head and Tom is telling me "It's fine... It's fine..." and people are all calming down. My Friend apologizes to Flock of Seagulls for calling him a pussy. Everyone seems okay again. I'm still in shock. Flock of Seagulls is taken out of the bar.

I walk over to Flock of Seagulls' backup posse and have a nice conversation about Top Chef being in San Antonio for some undisclosed reason and they can't tell me and they are so sorry that their friend was so rude to me. One of them jokes that he was just jealous of my back tattoo. Then he shows me his awesome goat tattoo and we are back to laughing and enjoying ourselves. It was a really awesome goat arm piece and they were really sweet to make amends for the guy being out of line and trying to censor my tweets. We discuss the "freedom to tweet" and they point out that the chefs themselves are twitter users, but that Flock of Seagulls might not be and maybe he doesn't understand how it works?

We stay there for another hour or so, Emeril and Padma have stumbled out at this point, Gail makes her way out - still with the head shaking thing - I can't help but think she's upset with me for only tweeting her name and some exclamation marks and not saying how in love with her I am. Which I am sad for because I really do respect her work and she's an amazing woman. I do hope that if fate ever places in me in such close proximity to her fantastic-ness that she realizes that I am not out to compromise her anything :) I'm just a foodie fan. No press showed up, there was no picture taking by anyone that night - I still am not sure what the concern was over my few simple innocent tweets.

I walk down through the rest of the bar patrons both our group and the Top Chef group and everyone is still trying to make sense of what just went down. They are sweet enough to buy me a drink and make lots of apologies for this guy starting such a fuss and I'm back to being my somewhat normal self. Tom is smiling again and we all cheers over fantastic cocktails.

My notes from this experience:

1) if I ever need to broker a peace agreement or calm my normally crazy self my dinner date is the perfect guy for the job. He stayed calm through the entire ordeal and kept me from going fan girl crazy.

2) if I ever need my honor defended my Friend is an amazing guy and totally has my back. He's also totally trained to kick ass and he's crazy fun to hang out with. I'm pretty sure if it had turned ugly he would have won that versus challenge I posed earlier today. I also am now in love with his middle finger and rapid photo finding abilities.

3) my new friend who also makes amazing beer magic and might be a bigger guitar geek than me is great at photo bombing and we totally need a re-do attempt! I'm still wondering if it was my quirky karma or his amazing hair that caused the events that set in motion last night.

4) I love being surrounded by amazing chivalrous beautiful men :) I am a very lucky girl.

5) if you compliment someone on twitter, and there are other people nearby, the compliments should be equal or someone might get offended.

6) If you are insulted by professionals, their companies will make it right and send you formal apologies and gifts in the form of autographed cookbooks :)

7) I still love Top Chef and am super excited to see what brought them to San Antonio. I was honored to be in their presence last night and enjoy their company.

8) if there are celebrities around, be careful what you tweet because you might compromise their? oh wait... I never did learn what that was :P Sorry Gail!


Unknown said...

A) this is such a crazy story

B) I would not have had my shit together if all those chef/foodie stars were around

C) did you like your moscow mule? My coworkers and I hit up The Esquire at least once a week. I have a crush on those hipster/vintagy suspender wearing bartenders.

@BigRedInTejas said...

Best blog post ever.

Cynthia said...

Well done!

Jennifer Navarrete said...

Wow, what a night! They are on the Top Chef Tour. Hubby and youngest son saw them at HEB Alon. Glad it all worked out. Funny thing is that they have no idea how San Antonio works or they wouldn't gotten so riled up in the first place.

Bird Flipping Friend said...

They were not amused when I tried to defuse the sitaution by saying "This is San Antonio... nobody even knows what twitter is"

Bernice said...

Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic!
A) I, too, love that beautiful bald man Tom Colicchio
B) It's nice to know that chivalry is not dead
C) I wish there had been a secret video camera in the Esquire, or I had been a fly on the wall there. I might have even buzzed around Gail, just to get that head of hers to stop shaking.
Great post!

Heather said...

In response to Bird Flipping Friend, love your retort about SA...and this is truly a great story!!

Heather said...

To the Bird Flipping Friend--I love your retort about SA. Perfect. And, yes, this is a great story. One for the memory books.

@GetChristened said...

I adore Top Chef and can't imagine how giddy I would have been around them! I'm sure the words out after several articles and this fantastic post, that they are filming in SA... Soo excited! Thank you for sharing such a great story! and for having a great attitude, regardless how people interpret things differently.

Natanya @ Fete & Feast said...

This is a case study in how brands should NOT respond to social media. I'm shocked at how this was handled but so very glad you told the story. Hopefully Bravo and others can learn from it.

Richard Ortega said...

As a fellow Riverwalk San Antonioian, I'm doing my part: @richardjortega - i wish 140 chars couldve fit #flockofseagulls and #

#BattleRoyale @Bravotv @BravoTopChef SA blog post -> of @tomcolicchio @PadmaLakshmi #flockofseagulls VS @symigoddess

Anonymous said...

unless they asked you to sign something and you did, they cant make you stop tweeting or commenting. they handled the situation poorly. i would have tweeted too!

Frankly Entertaining said...

I feel like stalking all restaurants where a Top Chef "personality" might find his or herself and then tweet all night long. Maybe I'll just camp out at Whole Foods!

Garrett said...

Really enjoyed this article! Looking forward to getting the Moscow Mule; I hear they actually have copper mugs that they serve them in!

Summer said...

Oh my God, this post made me laugh out loud. I would love to see Top Chef come to San Antonio to film. But deep in my bone I just have doubts that it will happen....DFW(maybe), Austin (more likely). I'll still keep my fingers crossed go though.

Way to go for standing your ground though!

Greg said...

love this. thanks for sharing!

Bird Flipping Friend said...

I'd also like to point out that I did make a point to tell Flock of Seagulls guy (to his face) "I didn't call you a faggot, I called you a pussy!"

This Bird Flipper, while straight, is a big support of Gay rights and would never use that kind of language.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Sorry to hear Gail is as uptight in person as she appears to be on tv. Good for your friend, we all could use friends like that.

Aly ~ Cooking In Stilettos said...

WOW! First of all - I'm SO sorry that a stupid (probably PA) guy who definitely will forever be referred to as "Flock of Seagulls" for the rest of his career at Bravo (or the production company) treated you like that. Seriously?

As for compromised - ummmmm... that's a little dramatic of a judge, imo. It's not a CIA operation or some mess. Oy vey! Kudos to y'all for keeping your cool (and to bird flippin' friend who SERIOUSLY needs to go work in Washington or something :) )

Thank you for posting this - fabulous blog post!

@christinechapa said...

hilarious story! I knew she was a beeotch!

Chef Mark Garcia said...

What a fun story...I was laughing out loud the whole time I read it!

It always cracks me up when a wanna-be PA or junior producer tries to be important because they are around tv personalities.

Your friend absolutely handled himself the right way..and flock of seagulls boy should be very scared to come back to Texas...I seem to remember that some folks around these parts may be heavily armed at all times

Anonymous said...

really funny story and I bet Flock of Seagull's coworkers are still laughing about his new name. He probably treats them the same way too..... But I don't buy the innocent act and that you don't get why they were so upset about your tweets. You knew exactly what you were doing and did it well -- you're on the front page after all....

Anonymous said...

top chefs were at whole foods yesterday!

Housewifehater said...

I love your story. -Just found your blog and I haven't read it yet, but if you ever watch The Housewives on Bravo, well, I'm not going to say anything about etiquette because I probably would have sent 20 Tweets, (with photos?).....but if your friend is as nice as they sound, do you always Tweet that much while out?
(and yes that was the perfect-storm of cheffery there. You did the right thing!)

Jennifer Perkins said...

Oh that was a giggler of a story. Twittering is not a crime, I'm gonna get bumper stickers made. I love the balls of steel on the bird flipper, I would never have the guts to ask the guy to come back and show him a picture of Flock of Seagulls.

Anonymous said...

Keep SA lame.

JIMP said...

I'm with ya in your Top Chef obsession! Your blog post inspired me to write one about celebrities and Twitter... check it out if you have a second!

Anonymous said...

Filming at Southfork Ranch this week!

Oh So Cynthia said...

I am both horrified and delighted by your post. Horrified because you were just a fan of the show who was excited to stumble upon the cast. Horrified because I can't believe that anyone actually thinks "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" anymore. If you want to keep something secret, don't go out in public! You can't film a show like that in a public place and think someone isn't going to tweet or Facebook about it. Ridiculous. And finally, I am delighted, because this is a blogger's dream! What a great story to share!!! Lucky you!

Ken Okel said...

Sorry to hear about your experience. It's funny how so often people tell us what we need to do instead of ask.

Maybe there have been some problems with locations being "compromised" in the past but that doesn't give someone the right to bark out orders at you.

Better to explain the concern and then ask for your cooperation. Some people just can't handle power... even a little bit of it.

Christine Z said...

Great story - thanks for sharing! I hope one day Gail pulls that stick out of her a**. What a killjoy.

FYI - I found this blog post thru Reality Blurred:

Anonymous said...

I found my way to your blog from Reality Blurred also :) GREAT story, and very well told!

If I worked for Bravo, I think that if we were going into a restaurant where "regular" customers were still dining, I'd politely ask for everyone's attention, and say something like "Good evening! Starting in a few minutes, Bravo will be here to do some filming. While I know it would be fun to let your friends and family know what's going on, due to the potential for overcrowding or other possible safety issues - as well as keep what we have in store a surprise for our viewers* - we need to ask that you not contact anyone or post anything to the Internet about our being here. I'd like to apologize in advance for any inconvenience our presence may cause and hope you'll have a wonderful evening here at [name of establishment]" Seems like that would head off a lot of potential problems and reduce the need for someone like Flock of Seagulls to accost innocent diners.

*From "behind-the-scenes" articles I've read about shows that tape in public locations, those are the reasons they don't want word to get out about where they are. It would have been nice, though, if someone had actually explained that to you! Very bad public relations on their part!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the "Bird Flipper", (which was an elegant demonstration of San Antonio's concise communication style), to an extent...Most of us know what twitter is, we just don't care. I don't twitter, because I don't need the world to have a play by play of my boring life. "I am at work. "I am at the gym. All the ellipticales are full. " I am home. I love reruns. Now I am eating tacos, that are going to erase the benfits of the gym." Also, I don't care to know anyones every move, either.

Lucas Kain said...

Agreed. Crazy story indeed. :D About the bird flippin' - I used that as an anecdote (with an attached picture) for my co-workers some time ago. It was hilarious. I think. :(

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@jjdlg said...

Wow, I had no idea such a cool event happened here. I look forward to living vicariously through your escapades from now on!

Anonymous said...

I now have the flock of seagulls song " I ran" stuck in my head. Ahhh the story was amazing though meeting those judges in person would be so amazing !!!

Anonymous said...

I agree of course that you were treated terribly and that everyone has the right to tweet. I'm glad to hear, too, that your friend never would have called anyone a "faggot." That is hate speech. However, I am dismayed to see that you (and your friend in the comments) return more than once to defend his NOT saying "faggot"--you "just" called him a "pussy." Please stop for a minute and think about that. Realize that, just as using "faggot" insults an entire group of people, using "pussy" insults another entire group of people--of which you are a member. It's surprising to me in this day and age that we reflexively accept misogynistic speech as just fine.

Anonymous said... must be a raving fangirl. After behavior like that, I would never use the word "fantastic-ness" to describe Gail Simmons. More like "cuntic-ness".

Anonymous said...

Great story, very entertaining read.

If they're really that concerned about things maybe they should just shut down the venue. Or not all show up somewhere and expect to blend.

You're a better person/fan than I, because I would have tweeted something snarky, walked out, and kept tweeting their location throughout the night.

Akira's human said...

That arrogance is why I hate watching Top Chef. So what if you revealed their location. Why is that bad? Are they all on hit lists?

I have limited patience with that arrogance - and I know most of them have earned the cred to be stars.

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