Author’s note: This is the first of a series of blogs about the experience of watching my daughter, Chef Dakota Weiss, make her way through Bravo TV’s Top Chef Texas, currently airing on Wednesday nights.
Okay, I feel a little better. Except now we wait to see what happens. Yes, a series of TC 9 Cheftestant Mama blogs are in my future.
Dakota’s road to Top Chef began after a long labor some 30-plus years ago in my home where I gave birth to her. The unconventional birthing included a male midwife, my late husband, a psychic, an astrologer, and my Siamese cat who was very concerned throughout the entire 22-hour birthing drama.
The astrologer gave warning: “Dakota’s career will be unique. She’ll be something like Hedda Hopper…you know, strange hats or something very distinctive and new age that will bring her attention and fame.”
Consider this was mid-1970s and not too many women were chefs. A chef’s toque is a unique hat, but Dakota took it a step further.
Last Spring Dakota called, “Mom, I just got off the phone with the casting agent for Top Chef!”
“And?????” I asked after a long pause.
“I said that I was interested. So, they’ll call me back for interviews, and send me paperwork and all that.”
She had called from work, where chaos reigns, and ended with her usual, “I love you Mama. I gotta go.”
A gazillion questions filled my head like a 32-ingredient recipe. The answers, however, sat on an invisible back burner.
As the weeks marched forward Dakota added more ink to her flesh and I added more pounds because we started watching every cooking show out there and they just make me hungry.
When Dakota was up to her toque managing her new position as executive chef at the W, Westwood (Los Angeles) and I didn’t hear from her, I scanned her Facebook page for hints, like was she going to make it on the show or not. She’s queen of cryptic messages. I died a thousand times to discover her messages had to do with either her pooch, Chaplin, or a spat with someone.
Dakota’s text messages announced news like, “Production company executives at restaurant now. I’m a wreck,” “Off to make a video for casting people,” “Can you help me with this application? They want to know everything!!!!”
This told me she was getting really close to making Season 9 Top Chef production. Oh for the Cheftestant Mama blogs I could’ve written last March, April and May! But it was time, she said, to keep this hush-hush.
“How much longer ‘til we know if you make it or not?” I asked in late May.
“I don’t know, Mama. They said it looks good, but that they’d get back to me in a few weeks.” Meanwhile Dakota’s local and national media hits began swelling with interviews and videos. It was like someone tossed a bit of vinegar into the flaccid baking soda.
It was a very long “few weeks.” Not until one of my dearest friends visited me in June did I hear the news and really had to clamp my molars down on my eager tongue.