The Wedding Planner: Robert Irvine Says “I Do” by Food Network Magazine in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Magazine, August 16th, 2012
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It’s a sunny Thursday in May at the Charles Krug winery in St. Helena, Calif., and Guy Fieri is giving Robert Irvine a shoulder massage.
In a few minutes, Robert will be marrying his girlfriend of three years, professional wrestler Gail Kim, and Guy, one of Robert’s best men, is giving the usually unshakable Restaurant: Impossible host a rubdown to calm his nerves. Just a half hour earlier, Robert was singing a different tune: “I feel the calmest I’ve ever been. I haven’t screamed, not once,” he said as he looked over the grounds where the cocktail hour and reception would take place. This whole wedding is his brainchild — conceived, planned and executed with the same military efficiency Robert brings to the massive two-day restaurant overhauls on his show. But today it won’t be a restaurateur who is dazzled by his work; it will be Gail. Robert has kept her in the dark about the details of the party, including the main event: the food.
“No one goes in there until I say it’s OK!” Robert barks, pointing to the venue. (So much for not screaming.) Satisfied with how everything looks, he throws back a beer in five gulps and keeps moving; the ceremony is about to start.
With Guy at his side, Robert beams as his daughters, Annalise, 15, and Talia, 11, read poems to the crowd, then he lets out an audible sigh of relief when Guy produces the ring and he exchanges vows with Gail.
Finally, as the sun starts setting, it’s party time, and for that, Robert has a little help from his friends: Cooking Channel’s Easy Entertaining host Michael Chiarello, former Next Iron Chef contestants Beau MacMillan and Elizabeth Falkner, and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. “I’m so excited because I have true masters cooking,” Robert says.
During the cocktail hour, Chiarello roasts a whole pig over an open flame (it’ll be the main course at dinner), and stationed on each side of the pig are two tables — one manned by Chiarello and the other by Morimoto. In a scene that resembles an Iron Chef battle, both chefs start plating hors d’oeuvres for the 160 wedding guests. Sure, a few minutes ago two other people agreed to spend the rest of their lives together in holy matrimony, but these two chefs are suddenly the party’s biggest draw, surrounded by fans snapping photos while they wait for a bite.
Morimoto and Chiarello are the odd couple of the wedding: Morimoto, who flew in from New York, slices his sushi with superhuman speed and precision, while Chiarello, wine-country local and master of rustic Italian food, leisurely moves about his station, chatting with the guests. Suddenly, Morimoto isn’t happy. He’s concerned that Chiarello’s smoky, slow-roasted pig is tainting his sushi. “Pig is too close to fish!” he shouts. “Don’t smoke my fish!” Chiarello laughs, shrugs and keeps hand-pulling fresh mozzarella for his bruschetta.
The chefs serve the guests, one by one, then the happy eaters gather around cocktail tables in the field. Robert’s family is here from the United Kingdom and Abu Dhabi, Gail’s family is in from Toronto, and the bride’s fellow professional wrestlers, some with arm-length tattoos, mingle with the crew members from Robert’s show. But one guest stays lurking close to Morimoto, and he doesn’t seem to want to move along. It’s Guy, enjoying not his first and not his last plate of sushi. The Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives host is attacking the delicate fish with the same gusto we’ve all seen when he knocks down burgers on TV. “Robert owes me,” Guy says, explaining that being a best man has earned him unlimited sushi. Robert shows up, grabs his own plate of sushi, then moves on with Gail to admire Chiarello’s pig.
“In Italian tradition you suck out the pig’s eyeball,” Chiarello jokes. The couple declines the offer, so Chiarello shoves a whole mozzarella ball in Robert’s mouth, like it’s wedding cake. Everyone then files into a carriage house for a five-course sit-down dinner: avocado and hearts of palm salad by Morimoto; gnocchi, rigatoni and the roasted pig by Chiarello; and cupcakes by Falkner. Guy gives a toast, calling himself and Robert a “mixed bag of nuts,” and Morimoto regales the couple with a Japanese fishing song “because I don’t know any wedding songs,” he says. Marc Summers, host of Unwrapped and executive producer of Restaurant: Impossible (“Besides Gail, I’m the only person Robert listens to,” he says), sings “Makin’ Whoopee” as a duet with the director of the show.
For her part, Gail says she is thrilled with the wedding Robert planned, and she claims that she never had any doubts. “I trust his taste,” she says. “Plus, Robert is the sensitive one. I never wanted the fairy-tale wedding. He did.”
See this event unfold on Wedding: Impossible, August 18, at 10 p.m. ET. Until then, check out a gallery of wedding highlights.