I arrive very early on a foggy Saturday morning in San Francisco. Earlier the day before I was given my meeting time and directions to meet at an indistinguishable back door downtown. I knew where I was headed but I had no idea of what I was about to walk into. Once again I was met at the door this time by a smiling Irish guy in a green ball cap. I remember him from the rainy night when I was invited over to taste food and wine pairings. Clint Davies, one of the two chefs cooking for this month’s Graffeats event welcomes me in. Walking in I realize the reality of where we are at this morning. I was told before hand where we would be filming, but it didn’t seriously hit me until I was standing there. A little awe struck, I took in my surroundings. Smelling things, exploring. I am getting a behind the scenes look of a environment that most people only see on the Food Network or Bravo. Today, this undisclosed location, becomes the prep kitchen for two guerilla chefs operating underground to produce tomorrow night’s Graffeats event. I am here to film it.
Blair Warsham, mastermind behind the Graffeats events arrives shortly after me. He hands me a chef’s coat and ask that I wear it. Because we are commandeering an industrial kitchen for the morning we all need to look like we belong just in case anyone of the normal employees arrive and starts asking questions. I prep my gear at the chef’s table in the kitchen. Yes, this booth actually exists. I couldn’t help daydreaming about being special guests to the chef’s kitchen side table having a dinner here my wife and I. Back to reality: Even though the chef’s coat fits fairly well, I feel I am sticking out like a soar thumb with a video and still camera.
Blair and Clint get busy prepping. All 5 courses have been strategically planned and will be cooked in a Sous Vide bath. I am amazed at what I am seeing. I have always heard about this, seen it done on TV but I am now watching it first hand. The dishes are placed in vacuum sealed bags and then put in a Sous Vide bath where they are cooked to a very specific temperature. Due to the nature of the GraffEats event this eliminates the need for a flame, or any other time intensive prep on location. Genius.
The morning moves by very quickly. Potatoes are peeled and cut. Apples cored and sliced. Meat is bagged and cooked. Sauces made. “This is one of the most stressful moments,” Blair tells me, “the other one is standing in front of everyone and introducing the event and the courses.”
The morning winds down. Produced and meat deliveries are dropped off at the restaurant as Blair cleans up. Counters wiped down. Dishes cleaned. All evidence of their presence in this kitchen erased. We say good bye to Clint and walk out the same unmarked door we entered.