Back in March, 2018, well known local chef and Longwood Highlands resident Mark Peel (Campanile, Prawn, etc.) was invited to appear on the TV show “Beat Bobby Flay,” in which professional chefs compete first against each other and then against the show’s celebrity host to create a winning dish for the show’s judges. When Peel went to tape the episode, however, it turned out that one of the producers had once worked with Peel’s wife, Daphne Brogdon, who is also well known as an actress, comedian, blogger, and the one-time star of her own cooking show, “Daphne Dishes”…and they invited her to tape an episode as well.
As it happened, Peel, whose “Beat Bobby Flay” episode finally aired in July of this year, didn’t make it past the first round of the show…so Brogdon, who shot her episode two months later, told the Buzz that her goal was to beat Peel’s performance and at least make it to round two.
Toward that end, she said, she prepared diligently, working with chef buddy Nancy Silverton to practice options for her first-round dish, as well as a list of possible dishes that might be chosen for a finalist round, if she made it that far.
And, as viewers will see…
…the prep paid off. Brogdon and her initial competitor, Gregory Wiener, from Napa Valley, were tasked with making something using the surprise ingredient Taleggio cheese…and her “pizza fritatta” beat Wiener’s “tempura cheese” in round one. (Although she was at first unsure her dish would come out on top, Brogdon said she knew as soon as one of the judges mentioned that her competitor had used star of anise in his creation that he had “gilded the lily,” and the round was hers.)
The show’s second round was a bit trickier, however. Not only does the winning contestant from round one go up against Flay himself, but contestants are not told in advance which dish from the pre-supplied list of possibilities they’ll be cooking. Brogdon said many of the dishes on the round two possibility list are chicken-based…and she was hoping for an opportunity to create a healthy version of Chinese orange chicken. But the dish actually chosen during the taping was a Cubano sandwich (a distinctive variation on the classic grilled ham and cheese), with which Brogdon is much less familiar.
Brogdon said the show’s producers, when prepping the contestants, strongly encouraged them to think about “what makes it stand out” when creating their dishes, and also to push for something new, original, and very “21st century.” So she decided to embellish her Cubano with a tomato/bacon relish she favors.
During the taping, Brogdon said she felt like she was particpating in a “sporting event,” with adrenaline pumping the whole time. During round two, she was given a large cut of pork from which to create her Cubano and admits she struggled a bit with it. “I didn’t butcher the pork well,” she said. “I had never started with a piece that big.” Also, when practicing the dish from the list of possibilities in the days before the taping, she said had never included the meat-cutting process in her timing; she had always clocked herself with pre-cut meat, which also threw her off in front of the cameras.
In the end, however, Brogdon succeeded in creating a unique version of the classic sandwich, which included her tasty relish…while Flay’s Cubano was, well, pretty classic and unembellished. So which version did the judges prefer? Now that one we won’t spoil. (While no longer airing directly on Food Network, the episode – called “Funny or Fried?” – is still available through Amazon Prime and Vudu.)
Meanwhile, Brogdon loved doing the show. Contestants don’t get paid, she said, and don’t even get hair and makeup prep from the show’s staff (Brogdon paid for makeup out of her own pocket), but while the production is pretty “bare bones,” the staff are “total pros,” and the audience at the taping was extremely enthusiastic and encouraging. She says she had a great time, and the whole process – especially honing recipes by a certain date – very much fit her own love of working to deadlines. “I wish I could do it every week!” she told us.
But that’s not quite the end of this story. Now, more than a year after the taping, it looks like Brogdon will get her wish…sort of. But instead of cooking in front of a camera, she’ll be preppping and preparing recipes in a new “high end” dining experience, Weed to Table (yes, that kind of weed), Brogdon is launching this month with business partner Stephanie Stanis.
Brogdon said she met Stanis, the founder and owner of Jade House Extractions, a company that makes “high quality cannabinoid and terpene concentrates, such as waxes, shatter, live resin and distillate oils,” while helping out a cousin who makes greenhouse systems marketed to cannibis growers. Brogdon said she and Stanis begin brainstorming about possible niches that haven’t yet been filled in the burgeoning cannabis industry, and came up with the idea of hosting cannabis-infused pop-up dinners in private homes. The events debut next month (reservations for Saturday, October 12 are available at the Facebook link above), and Brogdon says they will involve several different kinds of cannibis oils and products, which will probably result in “a mild to medium high for most people.”
Brogdon says that since she is no longer involved in Prawn, which she helped Peel launch back in 2017, and is not involved in any new TV shows at the moment, she needed a “new creative outlet,” and this fits the bill.
Interestingly, and finally, it’s worth noting that while Weed to Table is the newest fairly mainstream cannibis-related enterprise in our area, it’s already been preceded by at least two others – the Topikal CBD store is now open on Larchmont, and the LA Times recently did an extensive profile on the Museum of Weed, now open through September 29 at 720 N. Cahuenga, just north of Melrose. (The Times also recommends combining a museum visit with stops at other local favorites such as Larchmont Village Wine & Cheese, the Larchmont Village Farmer’s Market, Blends, Buck Mason, Chevalier’s Books, Landis Labyrinth, Groundwork, Larchmont Beauty Center, Trina Turk, and Salt & Straw…among others.)