In the culinary world, there is a phrase that guides the smallest to the largest kitchens, the home cook to the five-star chef. This French term, mise en place, translates to having everything set, from the dishes to the ingredients, before service begins.
Such is a guiding principle celebrity chef Robert Irvine knows well. But don't expect such certainty when Irvine swings through Ridgefield this weekend for the last show in the North American leg of his "Robert Irvine Live 2012" tour.
There are a few givens, of course. He plans to be at the Ridgefield Playhouse on Sunday, Dec. 2. He plans on bringing his live show to area residents. And, yes, he hopes it will showcase his many talents.
But, that's about as far as it goes when it comes to describing what will happen on stage. And don't expect Irvine to be a big help in the matter.
"Yes, it has cooking in it. Yes, it has handcuffs in it. Yes, it has straightjackets in it," he said of the show. "There is food involved, but if you are looking to learn how to chop an onion or carrot, you can go somewhere else."
The show calls on Irvine to tackle challenges with the help of the audience. Throw in a few stunts, and you have a decidedly unique experience. During his Florida premieres earlier this year he rappelled down balconies and faced timed challenges with mystery ingredients.
"I truly believe it is a fun time for everybody because I don't know what is going to happen," he said during a telephone interview. "I just walk in and do it."
For Irvine's first theatrical tour, he and producer Joshua Lingenfelter took a year to create a family-friendly show that would use cooking as a vehicle to bring audiences along for the ride.
For each show, Irvine is given his marching orders by a live and interactive computer-generated character named Chad.
"I hope (the audience) first and foremost gets a different perspective of the person they watch on television," he said, noting that he has a chance to let loose, share his sense of humor and dispel the persona of a "drill sergeant."
"And, I hope they can escape for two hours," he said. "Ultimately, I want people to go in and have a lot of fun and walk away from the theater having felt they experienced two hours of fantastic entertainment."
For the latter, Irvine attempts to save restaurants across the country, including several in Connecticut, from failure with his team and $10,000.
For those who watch the show, Irvine is a tough motivator, rarely mincing words or emotions. But, such intensity flows from a true desire to help hardworking people see a greater return for the sacrifices they have made to attain success, he said.
Earlier this year, he participated in an "Evening of Wishes" gala at Mohegan Sun for the Make-a-Wish Foundation Connecticut, and he has teamed up with the actor Gary Sinise, whose foundation honors and supports service members, veterans, first responders and their families.
"I feel at this point in my career it is about giving back, and I really enjoy that," Irvine said.
It is a career launched more than 35 years ago at the tender age of 11 when he announced to his father that he wanted to be a chef, inspired by a home economics class where he made his first quiche Lorraine and, later, by a chef on a naval ship. After all these years, Irvine continues to seek the best that he can be, he said.
"I am very comfortable in who I am, what I do and what I can do, but I continue to push that."
Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 E. Ridge, Ridgefield. Sunday, Dec. 2, 8 p.m. (wine tasting at 7:15 p.m.); $65. A signing with the chef will take place after the show. Merchandise will be available for purchase. 203-438-5795, http://www.ridgefieldplayhouse.org.
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