The Sophomore Effort

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, January 12th, 2014

The Kitchen - Behind the Scenes, Episode 2by Jeff Mauro

What a blast it was watching the premiere of The Kitchen along with all of you. The twitter action was bonkers. I was up in the air on my way back from the 14th annual Mauro Mexico Family Trip (25 Mauros strong this year!). I was sad because: A) The vacation was a bit of a bummer because it rained five days straight, I lost my iPad and my mom got a terrible case of strep throat*, and B) I wasn’t able to watch the live airing of the premiere of our new show on TV. Luckily, we had in-flight Wi-Fi and I got to engage in the episode via Twitter. Overall, the response was very positive, which is always reassuring. Twittertown can be a rough and tumble joint (keep reading, you’ll see what I mean), and it is seriously not for the meek. But in this case, it seemed like the people really liked us. Phew.

Episode 2 was a blast to shoot. We hit the field energetic and, with a couple practices and a solid game under our tight belts, more confident. We had our first guest during Cookbook Club — the highly talented pastry guru, author and legitimate Chicago native Jenny McCoy (win a copy of her book now). She gave an effortless interview in which I totally blew it and forgot to ask her my favorite question ever (see photo below). Jenny then demoed some of her award-winning desserts with the girls, and GZ and I promptly got kicked off set. This gave us a bit of a “union break.” I enjoyed a necessary dose of Jersey sunshine with GZ (which I guess was highly necessary, considering I received several tweets, one claiming I look “pretty pale” and another asking “What’s with Jeff’s alabaster skin? It’s gross.”). Noted.**

Behind the Scenes The Kitchen Episode 2That manly, dapper break with GZ was and will be one of the most-memorable moments in my career. We laughed, we busted each other — we just acted like two guys from the neighborhood shooting da breeze. Geoffrey is a genuine guy with a tub full of knowledge and a wicked sense of humor (see photo below). He gave me a lot of helpful advice during that 40-minute break — advice that I will utilize for the rest of my career. Thank you, kind sir.

Behind the Scenes The Kitchen Episode 2Back to work …

Sunny then made a recipe that only a lady as crafty and clever as Sunny can make: Easy Beefy Cheesy Ravioli. It was definitely “as advertised.” Totally beefy, supremely cheese and actually easy. I loved eating it as much as I loved saying it. I tell ya, she has the best recipe titles out of anyone in the business. I can pick one of her recipes out of a lineup any day of the week. It was fun acting as her sous chef, something I don’t get to do on Sandwich King. There’s a lot less pressure when it’s just you and the food, but doing a tag-team demo, it’s all fun and games. Sunny and I laughed so much. At one point, Sunny actually caught herself saying: “You know what? We should be on a show together.” Seriously. This was while we were filming The Kitchen, a show we are both on — together!

We ended the show with my favorite cocktail, the perfect Manhattan. Boozy simplicity at its finest, made by our resident mixologist, GZ. Here’s a little insider tidbit that I will unveil right now: My man GZ actually had another liquid mishap during the first take of “It’s 5:00 … somewhere.” Don’t tell him I told you, but when shaking this perfect Manhattan, the cocktail shaker actually malfunctioned and once again, GZ’s blazer got tattooed in a couple metric-pints of booze. Luckily, a blow dryer was quickly implemented and his bespoke blazer was stain-free. When we did another take, GZ’s Manhattan was executed perfectly and we got end our day sharing a cocktail, playing a round of Into It/Over It and basking in the fact that we are all a bunch of lucky people. Here’s to hopefully many more seasons of The Kitchen.

*The vacation wasn’t a complete disaster. My mom did get great treatment and rallied the final night, and Lorenzo and I had a blast swimming in the rain with my brother and all of Lorenzo’s cousins.  And I ate at least one whole fish a day for five days straight.

**I was planning on proudly donning my MVT (Mexico vacation tan) on the next episode of The Kitchen, but we all know how that worked out. When it rains, you can’t tan.

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