I took Irena Chalmers to dinner last year. She has written more than 50 cookbooks whose total sales have exceeded 18 million copies. Irena was one of the first writers to create the "single subject" cookbook that focused on only one topic. She was a pioneer for the idea of eating locally produced food, and is an expert on biotechnology and foods of the future. Irena has written for almost every major American magazine and newspaper, including the New York Times, Food & Wine, Gourmet, and is currently columnist and food consultant to Modern Maturity. She is an instructor in writing and communications at The Culinary Institute of America, and loves teaching.
Unfortunately, I had no idea who she was.
To me, Irena was just the mother of a friend of mine, Phil Kirshman. I didn't know that she was so famous. Phil told me that his mom was "into food", so I booked us all a table at Denver's hippest restaurant Table 6. Unfortunately, the restaurant came with attitude: it was loud, crowded, with bad service and mediocre food. I heard from whtbraces that Irena is actually a fun and kinky person who likes hanging around gay people. But that night, she was really quiet... either it was the bad restaurant or she was subdued being with her son and his new wife.
I regret that I didn't take Ms. Chalmers to a fun funky neighborhood restaurant for some real Mexican food. Or, we could have gone back to my house and I could have cooked for her myself. I am reminded of the time when I went to the high school reunion of a girlfriend who attended school with Michael Andretti (Indianapolis 500 Formula One driver, son of Mario). At dinner, a woman across the table from Andretti asked, "Oh! You race cars! Is that something you do for fun, or do you get paid for it?"
I'm sorry Ms. Chalmers. I hope I can break bread with you again sometime!