Friday, September 26, 2008

last chance to vote for pig-wrapped pig stuffed pig

As many of you know by now, there have been technical problems with the voting in mario batali's grilling challenge. but for the final few days, there is an alternate method that should get you through.

here's what you do now:

1. Click here and click on "vote here" in the upper right corner.

2. Go through the registration process. they only require an e-mail address, zip code, birth date and some advertising opt-outs.

3. You will then get instructions to e-mail your vote to your subject line should say VOTE, and in the body of your message, put Jim Webster, five stars (if I may be so bold as to suggest your vote!)

That should be all I need. The site has had many problems so far, so this is a fall back for them. And there is a problem if you try to access through Firefox 3. If the site blocks you, or you encounter any other problems, please follow step 3 and add what problem you encountered to the message, in addition to the vote.

I'm not currently in position to advance, but I think it is totally within reach, if i can get a good push from last-minute voters between now and monday night.

And if you have voted already, thanks!

if you are just tuning in, i among seven quarterfinalists in the contest for my recipe, which includes orange-fennel sausage stuffed inside a butterflied pork tenderloin, which is wrapped in pancetta. if i am in the top three in voting, i move to the semifinals, and if i win there, i will win a trip to texas to cook with mario at a tailgate party.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

voting problems

so, the voting seems to be down. i have no idea why, and don't know what to do about it. the site is up, you can watch the video, but if you try to register to vote, you get an error message. so, for now, don't. i feel terrible that i have drawn so many people into this fiasco.

thanks for your efforts. the voting was supposed to be open until monday, so i'll let you know if it reopens, but this is at least the fourth problem i have noticed, so i would understand if you've had it with me and my requests.

regardless, i'll let you know what i know when i know something.

thanks for the support so far.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

ybor and mj's, saturday, sept 20

so, i took the pig-wrapped, pig-stuffed pig campaign to the people today. i printed up some cards with information about the dish and voting, then went out to the ybor saturday market where the national tour of top chef. i figured that is as good a demographic as i would find.

they had a big tractor trailer truck with slide outs. inside, there was a tiny kitchen and 38 chairs. the chefs presenting were carlos fernandez from season 2 and richard blais, who was a finalist in the most recent season. richard is one of my favorite contestants from any season, so i was looking forward to seeing his demo.

anyway, i got there at about 945 a.m., which was 45 minutes before the first show. i wasn't looking forward to walking around and talking to strangers, but i figured my vote total needed a boost, so i needed to do it. and it was actually sort of fun. everyone -- well, almost everyone -- seemed happy to hear about the contest and what i could win. and most said they would go right home and vote. i gave out about 400 cards. so far, i've had a bounce of about 50. hoping that i get more tomorrow, but i was hoping for a 20 percent return, and that seems highly possible. i mean, of course, i don't know that all of them were people from ybor today, but i'm sure it didn't hurt.

i gave a card to blais and talked to him briefly. he seemed genuinely nice, which he seemed on the show. he said he was going to vote for me. i was rooting for him on top chef, so nice that he's returning the favor here.

he made sweet tea ice cream in the demo. he made it with dry ice, which i have seen happen on tv before, but never tried. it was pretty awesome. he made the ice cream base, and while it was still hot, put it in the bowl of his kitchen aid stand mixer. with the mixer running, he started adding the dry ice, and fog started billowing out of the bowl. it looked like a movie prop. we got to taste, and it was really good. it tasted like carbonated ice cream. i want to do this. oh, and i'm looking forward to my next trip to atlanta. richard is opening an upscale burger joint there. i'll go. oh II: while i was in ybor, i had lunch at mema's alaska tacos. i guess what makes a taco an alaskan taco is that they fry the tortilla. i had a gator taco, which was kind of cool. they were good, but kind of small and kind of expensive. shrug.

so i secured some votes. hopefully enough, and got to meet someone i respected on tv and learned that he deserved it. good day. and it wasn't even over yet. ...

so after a day of talking at ybor, i came home and crashed in front of the tv and watched the rays. then, all of a sudden, it was 730 and i was hungry. so we took a suggestion from laura reiley and headed over the mj's martini jazz and tapas bar. they asked us if we had ever been there before. we said, yes, but the last time we had been there, is was about seven years ago, and it was a steak & ale.

i want to go back and try everything on the menu. we started with the mussels a la tara, a nice bowl of mussels in a wine-butter sauce. sweet. portabello mushroom stuffed with goat cheese and spinach. sweet. we also had the slow-braised burgundy short rib. the description on this dish was just "with gratitude and respect for chef boulud." so i asked the waitress if the chef worked for daniel boulud, and she said yes. that was pretty cool. daniel is someplace i'd like to go someday. the short rib was good, though not quite as tender as i might've hoped. the sauce was really good. and the potatoes were good.

pam got the pan-seared salmon which had a lavender honey. i got the pan-seared duck breast, which came with a sour cherry sauce. this was awesome.

for dessert, i didn't have to choose, they had a sampler. a little taste of four different desserts. new york cheesecake, and the open cannoli were my favorites, but the carrot cake and the chocolate almond torte were good too.

they have something called bananas sorta foster. i need to go back and find out what that means.

all the plates were small, which is always fun. you could go create your own tasting menu. tapas is a great plan.

so, pam brought some of the cards that i took to ybor saturday morning, and we gave some to the waitress, told her the story and asked her to get all the employees to vote for me. she said sure. as we were getting ready to leave, i saw the waitress in the kitchen showing my card to the chef, domenica macchia. they seemed to be animated. then i saw her coming out to the dining room. so i waited. she seemed really impressed with the idea and the opportunity, and said she would vote for me. it was fun talking to her, too. i'm definitely going back. so should you.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

pig voting

hey, to anyone here because i met you in ybor this morning, thanks! and if you came here because you had a problem voting, i didn't mention to everyone, but there are problems with the site on firefox. i mentioned to a bunch of people, but know it didn't come up with everyone. explorer and safari don't have a problem with it, so if you have access to another browser, please try again.

i have been assured by the contest people that there is nothing wrong with the site. in fact, if you can click to ignore the warning on firefox, but that gets really annoying.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

ronnie the greek handicaps the field

ronnie perkins has been one of my best friends for almost three decades. and i know no one who does a better job of studying the candidates and issues before he votes.

but i sort of thought that when i told him i needed his vote for the batali grilling contest, i might just get it. nope. he studied the field, broke it down, weighed pluses and minuses, and finally came to his conclusion.

here is his report:

I watched the other videos to see your competition. Here's my assessment:

Salmon guy - sort of quirky but the vintage wine since thursday, low-rider capital of the world, and fish-hating granny was funny. decent presentation but not for me.

- a bit too much energy for this contest. good sound and video effects. Unique idea but it seemed way too much effort for a NASCAR tailgate party. Just throw a pig in the ground and tap a keg!

Jack Daniel's BBQ man - i liked the ingredients flying in and the process through the night but he's too cocky for me. although the food looked good it wasn't original and he didn't discuss anything but the bbq sauce and the duration on the grill. i liked having the gang at the end taste-testing the finished product.

Pigeon killer - i like squab/quail but he was way too boring. nothing but grilled bird with some bbq sauce and wine. i liked the grape wood idea since it was from his vineyard but not much else.

Vince's pork roast - definitely your toughest competition. i liked the ingredients and the way it was wrapped and tied for cooking. the audience was a good background and his presentation skills were really good as was his finished food presentation. hopefully he doesn't have many friends!

father and son butt team
- not bad. pretty good looking food although i don't like coleslaw. the jeff gordon look alike was a funny idea too.

PWPSP - oh yeah. i like how you showed the construction, the grilling, the cutting, and the tasting. but the final presentation of the food was the best of show and the idea (3/7 pork) and the name should be a crowd-pleaser. my only critique would be more eye contact. i think you have a winner! everyone will need to vote! good luck!

well, there you have it. after much thought, the considered opinion is pig-wrapped, pig-stuffed pig. ronnie assured me i got his 5-star vote.


ps: i can't really tell if you can tell how the voting is going, but if i am reading it right, i fell overnight. i really thought i'd gain with all my late-night friends. the quail guy shot out of nowhere, going from (i think) sixth place to (i think) first. then it appears that the guy with the wrapped pork shoulder is close behind (hmmmm, sausage wrapped in pork. know what that needs? bacon.), then the bbq sauce guy. then i'm neck-and-neck with the father-son team. sigh. i'm hoping that the other entrants used up all their friends the first day and that i still have a lot more in the bank. so get out there and vote!

Monday, September 15, 2008

the quarterfinalists

i have the charming title "pork-upload." i pulled this in from the link on mario's site, and i can't make it so i'm not cut off. i am in the top right. you can just click on my photo and it will take you to the video. you'll have to register before you can vote, tho.

voting is open!!!

ok, its a little weird, but as of 10:56 a.m., it appears the voting is open.

if you would like to help me win a fabulous weekend in texas to tailgate with mario batali, go to you will have to register, which involves giving an e-mail address, your age, zip code (if i recall), and setting up a username and password.

then you go to the videos and watch as many as it takes to come to a fair, informed and reasoned decision on whom to vote for. there are seven videos, and "voting" apparently takes place in the form of rating them on a scale of 1-5 stars. for instance, as an example, my video is slugged, and my user name is jawj1. so, strictly hypothetically, you could go in and, say, give it, i don't know, pick a number ... five stars. the voting ends on sept 29, and the three highest-rated videos then advance to the next round, from which judges, including mario, will pick a winner.

you can rank as many of the videos as you like, or just go in and rate mine. i mean, or some other. but for the purposes of this blog, mostly mine.

i know the registration is a downer, but i appreciate your effort. thanks in advance.

get ready to vote!

voting in the mario batali grilling contest was to have started by now, but there seems to be a delay. you can view all the quarterfinal videos, if you are still an undecided voter, tho, and i will alert everyone in every way i know how when the voting successfully starts.

to check the videos, go to my video is and my user name is jawj1. if i had understood the gravity of the name of the movie file when i uploaded it, i might have adhered to more creative naming conventions. but for now, that's what it is.

Monday, September 8, 2008


ummmm, i don't know what i am allowed to officially say right now, but i think i can tell you that i just received a phone call from mario batali's "people." since i don't have "people," it went to voice mail. but it was a really, really, really cool voicemail. details on your upcoming responsibilities will posted here soon.