submitted by Abbie Bollwerk
It’s not everyday that you get to live out your dream, let alone meet your idol. However, for teacher Ms. Bollwerk, those dreams came true.
Ms. Bollwerk had the opportunity to not only meet her idol, Rachael Ray, but she had the chance to prepare a meal on her show. Famous for her gameday bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers with a smoky finish and her love for the Kansas City Chiefs, Ms. Bollwerk was able to represent her beloved team as well as make a dish that would be critiqued by a guest judge on creativity, presentation and taste.
“It was a surprise to us who was our judge, that’s why everything was so secretive. They would make sure nobody was in the hallways when we were moving,” Ms. Bollwerk said. “Every person came with a different recipe and they had to make it, and then there was a guest judge – it was Nate Burleson, he’s an NFL analyst [and a former Detroit Lions wide receiver]. He had to eat our food and tell us who’s the best.”
Never missing an episode of Rachael’s 30 minute recipes to gain dinner ideas, Ms. Bollwerk was able to fly to New York with her husband and undergo the full experience.
“My husband and I do those a lot just because we have a newborn baby and we don’t have a lot of time. We’ve been watching her for the last six or seven years and we love all of the different recipes she has,” Ms. Bollwerk said. “On maternity leave, I went to the website and told them I’m a really big fan, I love watching her show and then they called me twice. Both times they had just called me because of the area that we live in but I didn’t get called for the first segment. The second time they just asked if I was a football fan, if I liked the Kansas City Chiefs and I told them I do. They then asked me if I’d like to make a recipe and [send] a video, and submit it.”
Another mega fan of Rachael Ray is Ms. Bollwerk’s husband. Being a fan for about five years, Mr. Bollwerk was not only excited but grateful for the opportunity to join his wife on the trip.
“I like how relatable she is and how she cooks in the kitchen is how any normal person would be, not a fancy chef’s kitchen,” Mr. Bollwerk said. “I had to stay in what they call ‘the green room’. It is backstage and when the show would tape, the T.V. would turn on for me to see what was going on. I would like to appear on the show, but Ms. Bollwerk is much faster thinking on the go than I am. I need time to think about what I want to say.”
Mr. Bollwerk was also a big help in preparing the food at home minutes before Ms. Bollwerk submitted her video to the show.
Appearing on Rachael’s segment, known as “Fantasy Foodball,” Ms. Bollwerk was one of the four contestants to make a dish representing their beloved Super Bowl team. Two other women representing the Packers and the Titans, as well as a gentlemen representing the 49ers were also selected from different states, each varying on the dish they created.
With just enough time to sightsee, the experience was primarily business. Ms. Bollwerk, as well as the other contestants, were expected to have hair, makeup and outfit ready at 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday, the day of taping. Rachael’s representatives picked up each of the contestants where they had to immediately start prepping their dishes.
“She does three shows a day, we were the first show and it starts at 11 a.m. The next show starts at 2:15 and then the next show is 4:30, so it was business when we were there. We actually got on stage at 10:30 and there was no one out there because we had to start prepping our food. Rachael didn’t come out until a few minutes after 11. We were out there when they were bringing the audience in and they had a hype man/comedian to get the crowd going,” Ms. Bollwerk said. “Rachael came over, introduced herself and shook our hands and then we all got back to cooking. She actually practiced her prompt/script.”
The time and preparation it took for all the contestants added additional pressure to ensure their dishes were up to par, but with the support of Ms. Bollwerk’s co-workers cheering her on at home certainly helped encourage her.
“We all were texting each other, all of us co-workers, and saying, ‘It’s getting ready to come on, make sure you have it on!’ If we wouldn’t have had a snow day on that Friday, we were all trying to figure out a way to watch it,” Ms. Wiggs said. “It was super exciting to see somebody that you know that’s loving and kind, and bubbly and be on her favorite show. She told us she was going to do it so it wasn’t a complete surprise but it was exciting to see her. We were all looking forward to seeing her.”
Being a fan of Rachael Ray closer to seven years, Ms. Bollwerk was so incredibly grateful for the overall experience but that excitement came with a side of nerves when she woke up.
“I was really nervous at first but I think because we had to be on set so much earlier than everybody else, I wasn’t as nervous because I needed to get these poppers done. It wasn’t like I had time to look around and take everything in. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime, amazing experience. I’ll probably never be able to do it again, but it was awesome. It’s awesome that it’s taped so I can go back to it,” Ms. Bollwerk said.
It’s not everyday that anyone gets to be on national T.V., let alone the Rachael Ray Show, as there’s more pressure to prepare a delicious meal for herself and a guest judge. Having the chance to go behind the scenes and witness how the production work is set up as well as getting prepped in hair and makeup, and meeting your idol was surreal for Ms. Bollwerk. Even though her popular bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers didn’t win, she won a greater opportunity that she’ll never forget for years to come.
To check out behind the scenes, click here: https://www.rachaelrayshow.com/video/meet-the-4-football-superfans-competing-in-our-7th-annual-fantasy-foodball-cook-off