During my tenure here on earth, I've had a total of 3 celebrity encounters. How about you? If you had the pleasure of meeting a celebrity, how did you react, if not how would you? Picture it: You see them, your eyes begin widening with excitement, your breath quickens, and your heart races in a mad dash attempt to say hello, grab your phone, and open up the appropriate app to capture the moment.
In the same breath you are greeted by many other dedicated fans who have the same mission in mind as you. If you're bold, you throw yourself at the celebrity, take a selfie and hope that it comes out halfway decent. In a "Stepford" world you will have a friend or kind stranger who grabs your phone, throws you in the trenches, and snaps a perfectly clear photo of you and the person you admire. In 2 of my 3 cases I could neither grab my phone or clearly introduce myself. All I, and many others are left with, is a story of their efforts with no tangible evidence of the moment to back it up....until now.
January 2016 I was lucky enough to get on the list for a private tasting at the newly opened Peter Chang restaurant in Virginia Beach Town Center. The event was hosted by Yelp Hampton Roads, and in full disclosure I am a Yelp Elite member and have to apply for access to these events . For several hours, myself and 50 other people partook in a endless sampling of eclectic and mouth watering foods.
(For some brief back history) Peter Chang is an award winning Chef who specializes in traditional Chinese Szechuan cooking. He previously worked as the Chef for the Chinese Embassy and is currently a semi finalist for the prestigious James Beard Award. Additionally, he has been featured on the Travel Channels show Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman. Point. blank. period, Peter Chang is one of, if not the THE BEST Chinese Chef in the United States, and to have access to one of his restaurants here in my backyard is something I do not take for granted.
Getting back to the event. The feast consisted of an assortment of cuisine including numbing noodles, almond chicken, steamed buns with custard and egg filling, fried eggplant, and the list goes on. 2 hours and one full stomach later, my body emitted that long sigh that signals that it had reached its maximum capacity of food consumption and it was time for a nap. Not so much as a second goes by, and it was announced that Chef Peter Chang himself had been in the kitchen cooking all of the food for us. As Chef Chang came out to greet us, a bellowing of cheers and applaud filled the restaurant, and my day had been made.
SO. Lets pause and take a moment to revisit those celebrity sighting feelings again. Shock and awe, heart palpitations, sweaty hands, grabbing my phone....check, check and check.
Connecticut must be in my future, because when a call went out asking if anyone wanted a photo with Chef Chang, I jumped at the opportunity! No pushing or shoving needed, just a simple introduction, a handshake and a smile. Finally, a true celebrity encounter had occurred with the story and physical evidence to back it up. Third times the charm!