A good crowd at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
In 2005, we kick off our holiday season with a cooking demonstration and Cuban cookbook signing at one of the premier shopping destinations in the United States: the Mall of America. On November 19, we do a presentation to show how anyone can add a little Latin touch to his or her own holiday celebrations.
The Musibays – Raúl and his wife Esther – and the entire Castillo family fly up to Minneapolis from Miami on Thursday night. Stepping off the plane, Raúl is in for a real treat: the first snow he had seen in 18 years! Glenn tells Raúl he better enjoy the snow while it lasts. Raúl makes a few snowballs and throws them at Glenn and Jorge. By noon the next day, all the snow has melted and Glenn and Jorge are very thankful.
Friday is a free day, well sort of. In the morning, we make two complete renditions of camarones con arroz. We know from experience that our TV time will be short, so we come prepared with complete dishes and everything prepped whenever we do an on-air presentation.
On Friday afternoon, Glenn takes everyone for a whirlwind tour of the Twin Cities. Friday night our party of 10 eats at Tiburon Bistro in downtown Minneapolis. The food is good, the atmosphere is great, and the conversation is even better.
It's Friday morning and everybody is up by 6:00 am, getting dressed, loading up the car, and heading over to the studios of KARE 11 television in Golden Valley where they expect us to arrive at 7:30.
Fortunately, we had scouted out the studios on Friday, so we don't waste any time wandering around completely lost as we have on several occasions – Jorge!
We make an appearance at LegoLand.
We are surprised to find the studios apparently deserted at this early hour. Jorge gets a guard to let us in and we run into KARE 11's Bobby Jensen in the hallway. Jensen is the gardening guru at the station and he is very friendly.
As usual, Jorge can't resist the impulse to break into song. Raúl and Glenn wait patiently until he finishes his big number...
Jorge gets down to business and decorates the paella.
Photo by Gregg Larson, Eagan MN
They shoot KARE 11 News Saturday in a large, open studio. They set us up in a corner where we immediately start cooking. During the show, we have a few "teasers" – where they occasionally cut to us cooking and show our Cuban cookbook – so we have to be on our toes. However, it's easy to know when our spots are coming up. The station uses robotic cameras that move independently, roaming all over the floor of the studio, seemingly at will. Whenever one of the large cameras starts lumbering toward us, we know our next spot was coming soon and we shift into “action” mode.
One of the co-hosts, Eric Perkins, interviews us during our 5 1/2 minute spot. He has a great sense of humor and we manage to have a little fun with him, although we're typically not at our best at this hour of the morning.
After the show, it's off to the Byerly's grocery store in Eagan to buy ingredients for our Mall of America show. As we pull into the lot, Raúl says, "wouldn't it be funny if someone sees us here and recognizes us from the show?"
Signing books for Mall of America management.
Since the show had just ended about 20 minutes earlier, this seems highly unlikely. Sure enough, we don't even make it through the door when a lady in the parking lot asks us, "hey, aren't you the guys who were on TV this morning – the ones with the Cuban cookbook?"
Back at the Lindgren house we make a complete paella to bring to the Mall – everything but the seafood. Our idea is to cut down on our presentation time on stage.
At 2:00 o'clock we load up the rental van and drive over to the Mall of America in Bloomington. The best part of the deal is that we get to park in the VIP lot underneath the mall.
It looks like Raúl and Glenn are conducting a séance!
From there we are ushered into the green room, where we sign some books for Mall of America management and admire the huge photos of famous people that line the walls – everyone from Avril Lavigne to Tyler Florence. We try to reserve a space for our own huge photo, but Mall Security frowns on our attempt to unbolt the Emeril Lagasse photo from the wall.
Our demonstration and Cuban cookbook signing are in the rotunda – the Mall's biggest venue. We are a little afraid that no one will show up. This is our first appearance in the Twin Cities, so we really don't know what to expect.
We manage to fill the seats and even have several people watching from the balconies. It's nice to see so many people come out; we always enjoy meeting our fans!
One glitch at the Mall: local regulations prohibit passing out samples, and free samples are usually the highlight of our show! (The samples are a reward for sitting through the whole thing.)
Raúl posing in front of the Wall of Fame in the Green Room at the Mall of America.
We have arranged for Glenn's sister Diane to take the finished paella and bring it home with her. Otherwise it will go to waste.
Life in the fast lane: Three Guys and one stovetop!
Photo by Gregg Larson, Eagan MN
Three Guys From Miami Take on the Mall of America