After a weekend full of lines, autographs and meeting comic book legends at the Baltimore Comic Con, I got right back into the fray Tuesday night at a book signing with two fan favorites from the latest season of The Next Food Network Star. The Momma’s Boy Vic “Vegas” Moea and this year’s winner, “Sandwich King” Jeff Mauro, made a stop on their book tour at the Barnes & Noble in Cherry Hill, NJ, and since our own food expert Angelique was not able to attend, I went in her place doing my best to represent both MLD and Not Just Take Out.
The line didn’t move at the rapid clip that Stan Lee’s crew maintained in Baltimore, but that just meant fans had an opportunity to meet and talk with the two chefs/reality stars that were every bit as personable as they were on screen. Happy to pose for photos and sign copies of the Food Network Star book they were promoting, the two really seemed amused as I addressed Mauro appropriately as “your highness.” Thankfully he had just explained that his custom Phillies jersey was a gift before I could accuse him of pandering to the local crowd.
I felt a little guilty when they asked if I was a big Food Network fan and had to explain that their show was one of the few that really captured my attention this season as I watched with Angie. Both contestants were a big part of the draw for me, but Jeff’s sandwich angle is one I can really get into. As I’ve said before, his tagline of “every meal into a sandwich, every sandwich into a meal” agrees nicely with my life plan. I’m clearly not alone in that as one fan went so far as to bring a sandwich for the King to sign in yellow mustard. Mauro readily agreed and was all too happy to then taste his autograph on a delicious looking offering from Phil’s Deli in Cherry Hill.
The appearance was a great time and everyone seemed happy with the results. While disappointed she couldn’t attend, Angie was thrilled with her personalized keepsake full of stories and recipes from the show as well as my attempts to capture the event through photos (most of which were too laughable to be used). I highly recommend heading out to see Jeff on the remainder of the book tour and if you have the good fortune of Vic being there as well, you’re in for a treat. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more from him on Food Network before too long.
Jeff’s new show Sandwich King airs on Food Network Sundays at 11:30AM. The premiere last weekend was a nice combination of cooking and clips of the King visiting Johnnie’s Beef, a Chicago sandwich shop whose Italian Beef served as the inspiration for that week’s show. I really enjoyed that element (I’m far more likely to go out and buy that sandwich than try to make it) and hope to see it continue in the weeks to come. I’ll certainly be watching.