KitchAnnette LIVE on The Today Show!

KitchAnnette on the Today Show

Appetizer, General | May 18, 2017 | By

KitchAnnette Ultimate Cook Off

Well it’s been QUITE A WEEK! I’m still marveling over having been on the Today Show! I’m sharing it all! 

Watch a video version with some unused footage here:

Here’s how it happened. I’ve got a profile on the Today Food Club site. They routinely have new challenges, which is basically posting recipes that fit the new challenge. Fall Harvest, Reinventing Breakfast, etc. I clicked on the latest challenge, which was The Ultimate Cook-Off which requested all sorts of dishes. Clearly I didn’t read it very closely and didn’t think it was a contest to be on the show. Regardless, I clicked through and saw the KitchAnnette blog was connected. I selected a few dishes and that was that. When I went to my profile to confirm it posted, I saw nothing had been added. The site can be a bit wonky so I closed the page and didn’t think about it again.

KitchAnnette Potato Roses Platter

Last Monday I received an email saying I was a possible finalist in the contest for my Potato Roses. I had no idea how they knew about my dish but then my brain turned on and I recalled what had happened the week before. WOW! I had the phone interview on Tuesday, and was confirmed for the show on Wednesday. I was positively giddy but I didn’t want to shout it out until I received the detailed email. Once I got that, I knew it was real and I was PSYCHED.

NBC StudiosI’ve watched the Today Show for years. I have wanted to share Red Carpet Menus on the show since it was published but being a “one-pot dish” instead of a smorgasbord of agents, PR people, etc., I didn’t know how to do it. Now it was happening! My little dream came true around a different corner.

I was asked to be at the studio on Monday afternoon for a run-through/rehearsal. Being a lifetime New Yorker, this had more resonance… entering the studio I’d passed soooo many times but this time my name was on the list to enter. Here’s where I met my fellow competitor/new friend Teresa Gangelhoff. We were taken on a tour of the studios – we saw where the magic happens. We’d be competing in the studio where Today’s Take and Kathie Lee & Hoda film right next to the famed Today Show kitchen.

The Today Show food staff is incredible. They are an army of details and professionalism who leave nothing to chance. Everyone was very kind and patient as we ran through our segment. I had been curious about what the other dish was. When I found out it was a yummy sweet, savory, salty, fresh bright flatbread featuring my fav, fresh figs, I knew my potato roses were “doomed” which was fine by me. I was already winning exponentially!

When we were done, Teresa and I went to dinner. We wound up at Patsy’s Italian Restaurant and had a great time chatting with Chef Sal Scognamillo who happens to be a good family friend. He shared his experiences doing segments on several shows including the Today Show. We were ready!

Annette Zito, Sal Scognamillo, Teresa GangelhoffMy wonderful friend Barbara DeBisschop agreed to come with me to the show. Not only did I want the support of my soul sister, but I knew she’d take loads of pictures and video. This woman left her house at 5:00a to be at my house on time for the car being sent to get me at 6:30a. She’s a rock star!

We arrived in record time and it was ON! We walked into the green room to see the Zac Brown Band warming up acoustically with none other than Dr. Oz jamming with them on guitar! Dorothy, we were NOT in Kansas anymore. Within a few minutes, I was summoned to hair & makeup. Who was sitting there? The lovely and talented Kate Snow. Who came strolling in next? The affable and funny Jeffrey Tambor. All this before 8:00a!

Our segment was going to be on just after 9:30a so we had time to relax and watch the comings and goings of people in the green room. Sheinelle Jones, Joy Bauer, Amy Brenneman, Minnie Driver, are just a few of the notables coming and going. It was finally time to don the Today Food apron and head up to do the segment.

When we got to the set, it was so impressive! The food team had created magic, recreating our recipes so beautifully. We were mic’d up and ready to go. We met Jenna Bush Hager and Richard Blais, who happens to be my favorite Top Chef winner of all time and was judging the dishes. And then the king of all weather, Al Roker, was “right there” at the table ready to get underway. I thought I’d be nervous but I wasn’t at all. I was unfamiliar with how it all worked, sure, but that was it.

Teresa Gangelhoff, Al Roker, Annette Zito

3-2-1-GO! We did the goofy little dueling tease (check the video for the one that didn’t get used) and Jenna introduced us. Click here for the full segment and recipes.

Richard Blais, Annette Zito

It went really quickly and the results were as expected. Teresa’s flatbread took top honors! However, getting that level of “Blais Praise” for my dish was everything! When the segment was over, he came over and was sincerely complimentary of the dish – don’t be surprised if you see a wild version of a potato rose from him sometime soon! He was at the show promoting his new book, So Good, which prompted a book swap as you can see! His book is so gorgeous… I can’t wait to try some of his dishes.

Barbara DeBisschop, Annette ZitoTeresa was off for the airport, Barbara and I were off for the waiting car. Once inside, we were blown away by what we’d just experienced. She did such a great job capturing the visuals, was such a major force of support and joy, I’m so lucky to have such a friend to share this experience with. It’s not one I’ll soon forget, that’s for sure.

What was once an elusive goal, has been attained. My world has shifted in the most delightful way. I hope I am invited back for an Oscar extravaganza edition!


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