Four Minutes of Fame, Part I

hinted at it. I accidentally blurted it out.  But finally, I’m able to talk about it in all its glorious, fabulous details. On Monday, March 22nd, I’ll be on the “Today Show.”

The interesting thing is I’ve been plotting this for 33 years.

When I was a junior in high school, we were going on a field trip to New York City. At that time I was gaga for anything NYC, partly because I grew up in a town with fewer than 10,000 residents—and that included cows, chicken, cats, dogs, and guinea pigs. And partly because I wanted to be an actor. Although I lived only 3 hours away by train, I had never been to the center of the universe, but I was dying to go. There were two options for the field trip: a tour of the United Nations (how boring) or a tour of the “Today Show” set. I knew where I was going. But on the morning of the trip, while the buses idled in front of the school, we waited, and waited, and waited. Eventually we were told the trip was off. (I think it had something to do with liability.) I went to chemistry class completely and utterly bereft.

I thought the stages of NBC were forever out of my reach.

Then last year I met Giuliano Hazan, teacher, cookbook author, and son of Marcella Hazan. We were at the Epicurean Classic in St. Joseph, MI, and after watching me do two demos, he told me I should be on the “Today Show.” Sure, I told myself. If my publisher couldn’t get me on the show, how can you? He gave me the name and contact information for Ms. Producer A., and I e-mailed her in August. Fast forward to November 17th. I got a message from her, after having given up any hope of being on the show. It took us all of ten minutes to decide what I’d cook: clams in a cataplana (amêijoas na cataplana). It’s flashy, easy, and fast. (I’ll post the recipe on the 22nd.)

Knowing I have only four minutes to make a dish that takes about a half-hour, I had to choreograph everything, breaking down each step. Clearly one cataplana, the clam-shaped cooking pot the dish is made in (think of a wok with another on top), wasn’t enough. I hard to order three more from Silampos, a company in Portugal.

Last week, The One played director, costume designer, set designer, and personal assistant. I practiced cooking the dish in front of him in real time—meaning the full 30-minute version—making believe I was chatting with Matt, Meredith, Ann, and Al. (Meredith and I had lots to say to each other because she’s also Portuguese,  grew up about 15 miles away from me in New England, and her family is from an Azorean island, just like mine is.) On Wednesday I heard the great news that I’ll appear on the 9 to 10 a.m. hour and was told that Bianca Henry, one of the food stylists on the show who also happens to be half Portuguese, would be working with me.

I have a lot left to accomplish by next Monday. On the top of the list are: 1.) find something flattering to wear, 2.) practice cooking in TV time, in which I jump from cataplana to cataplana and get everything done in less than 4 minutes, 3.) get my hair cut and sideburns dyed (ah, vanity, thy name is David), and 4.) lose 60 pounds. (Anyone know where to get Spanx for men?)

Stay tuned right here, as I countdown the hours to my 33-year plan to get on national TV. Read Part II

David Leite's signature
Comments
Comments
  1. Congratuations on realizing a childhood dream in a very big way! PS Spanx for men… *belly laugh*

  2. David, i’m so excited for you. You definitely deserve this wonderful opportunity and I know you will make a great impression. My big question is – when you get your own show, can I make a guest appearance????

    • David Leite says:

      Thanks. And OF COURSE you can be a guest on my show. Only question: Are you planning to finance that show?

  3. Emily says:

    Parabens!

  4. Beth Price, LC Recipe Testing Director says:

    Wow!! I am so impressed…I work with a star!

  5. Carol Murphy Clyne says:

    Awesome David!! I can’t wait to watch and cheer you on! All the best to you.

  6. Pat Allen says:

    Goes to show; never give up on your dreams! Congratulations and best not to worry about the sixty? pounds, you’re just fine.

    • David Leite says:

      Pat, it’s MORE than 60, but let’s just leave it at that. Thanks for all the kind wishes.

  7. Winnie says:

    That is just so awesome. You will have a great time and you’ll do a great job.
    I will be watching for sure!

  8. luae says:

    Congratulations!!!

  9. Steve says:

    Congratulations! “Break an egg.”

    Don’t forget step 5: work the website address into the four minutes.

    p.s.
    Doesn’t step three almost solve step four. (I wish I had all that hair…)

  10. Louise says:

    RAH! RAH! RAH! David, how very exciting – I’m so happy that you are realizing a long-held dream – go for it and forget the incidentals like weight, hair or whatever—remember Al Roker used to weigh more and it didn’t stop him. I’ll be watching and cheering you on from North Carolina.

  11. Dianne Jacob says:

    Don’t forget to tweet from the green room. Congratulations! Will set up my timer.

  12. Ling Teo says:

    Spanx!! LOL!! Congrats – you’ll be FINE, David – knock ‘em dead!!

  13. lisa keys says:

    Skyrocketing to stardom-forget the spanx; you are a very handsome man with a wonderful sense of humor!

  14. Sandra Cabral says:

    That is wonderful! I will have to Tivo your appearance. You and your recipes have made their way into my heart and kitchen.

  15. Sue Epstein says:

    Congratulations David! You deserve it. Wish I could watch the show but we don’t get it here in Israel. I’m sure you’ll knock ‘em dead!

  16. Lorna Sass says:

    Wow, what a coup! Congratulations.

  17. Tasha Tully says:

    I look forward to seeing you live? in the Big Apple! How exciting! Maybe you can visit the United Nations after your Today Show debut?! :o) Congrats and good luck!

    • David Leite says:

      Thanks, Tasha. I think it’ll be fun. I’m starting to get nervous, though. When I’ve done TV it was live to tape. This…is…live!

  18. Ellen says:

    David,

    It’s such a pleasure to see all your hard work coming to fruition in so many positive ways. We’ll be watching and cheering you on, for sure.

    Ellen

    P.S. Who amongst us really trusts a too thin chef? The big guys are the big guys, n’est-ce pas?

    • David Leite says:

      Ellen, thanks. If only Momma Leite believed the too thin chef logic. But I’m doing okay. If I keep eating only one grape dipped in low-fat mayo everyday, I should shed about 40 pounds by Monday.

  19. Donna Rose, LC Recipe Tester says:

    Congratulations, David. One of the things I most like about you is your enthusiasm for the good happenings in your life. Wallflowers are much less interesting….and less fun. I’ll take a man who gets excited about an opportunity and says so. It allows the rest of us to be a part of the celebration as well. Being a part of LC lets me vicariously tag along for the ride! Knock ‘em dead! You’ll be fine. How can you be otherwise with all of us behind you?

  20. nakedbeet says:

    Congratulations on plotting and succeeding!

  21. RisaG says:

    David, that is sooo wonderful. I’ll be watching. I normally watch a competitor show at that hour but I’ll watch The Today Show so I don’t miss you. Good luck. Demos look very scary. The dish sounds outstanding. Should be fun to see how you get it done, with all the swap outs, and without passing out from nerves. I wish you a lot of luck.

    • David Leite says:

      Well, passing out isn’t out of the question! And thanks for switching loyalty for the day. I, and I’m sure The Today Show, appreciate it!

  22. So glad it worked out for you. I know you are going to be terrific. Can’t wait to see you!

  23. Karen says:

    David—if you REALLY want Spanx, just ask Jimmy Kimmel and the Handsome Mens Club!! You are perfect just the way you are—so there!! Congratulations—all of us here in Cajun Land will be watching and cheering!

    Karen

    • David Leite says:

      Karen, LOL! I just have to have my people call Jimmy’s people to get ahold of a few Spanx. Give my best to the denizens of Cajun Land!

  24. Olivia McCourt says:

    Congratulations. I hope everyone watches. I will.

  25. Adele says:

    Great Job! And the outfit was terrific, the food looked sensational.

    Congratulations!

    Adele

    • David Leite says:

      Thanks, Adele. It was such incredible fun. So many people’s work go into those four minutes. (And we have The One to thank for the sweater. He insisted I wear it.)

  26. Mary E.R. Brown says:

    Read in the Fall River Herald that you would be on the TODAY SHOW. You did a great job. Wished M. Veira had been with you for the Portuguese connection. I have been reading lots of interesting bits about you. I have been collecting Portuguese cookbooks and trying recipes for years. Can’t wait to get yours. Hope you get to meet Emeril, too. Keep up the good work!

    Mary E.R. Brown
    Assonet, MA

    • David Leite says:

      Mary, thank you! It was great fun. Meredith had an appointment, so she couldn’t make it, but I discovered that Natalie Morales is half Brazilian, so that was cool. Im looking forward to a little Swansea/Fall River, MA downtime this week. I’m going to Al Forno restaurant on Wednesday night for a Cook the Book event. They’re making the cataplana for dinner. Then to a book signing at A Novel Idea on Thursday night, and then quiet time with my parents on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

  27. Emiko says:

    Yay!! Congratulations David!!

  28. Terry says:

    David, this is great! Congratulations! Can’t wait to see it. Good luck! Terry

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