I kept on experimenting with Paneer and making myself efficient in making these sweets at home, unaware of anything like FOOD NETWORK or any person named Emeril Lagasse. Actually, we didn't used to have additional channels at first, we just had those basic channels. So, I used to watch a lot of TLC shows and slowly it became my favourite channel.
Then one day, in the end of August 2005, someone knocked at our door and Abhi answered. A person from Time Warner Cable was there and he said there is an offer going on for free subscription of additional channels for the whole month of September and if you like them you can get them for an additional payment of just $10 per month, but this offer is for now only. Abhi immediately said yes for it and than we thought, lets see it for a month and than we'll extend it, if we'll like it.
As usual, I used to watch TLC and TLC only, but one day while flipping the channels I saw someone cooking and suddenly I stopped. That someone was Paula Deen...didn't knew at that time though and I got HOOKED on it. It was a whole new world for me. Day and night FOOD NETWORK and FOOD NETWORK only. Thats how I came to know about EMERIL Live, what a nice show.....OK lets watch it.
As far As I remember, in October, Emeril announced this contest called "Emeril Live Scratch Contest" and said they wanted something from stratch which should not be a complete dish, but can be put use for making some other dish and than Emeril will create one of his own dishes from it. Now I got something to think about and I kept on thinking that, what can I send that should just be a basic ingredient for making the dish and not a complete dish in itself. Nothing was coming to my mind and I was not even exposed to American Food that much. Never used to like Pasta or any type of cheese. But knew one thing and that was 'Americans Love Cheese'.
Abhi was in the office that day and was very busy in meetings....I called him and asked if I can send the recipe of Paneer in Emeril Live's contest, he was in a rush, so he said OK..OK, send it and I got a green signal. I wrote a small introduction about India and about my family along with the recipe of Paneer and sent it.
On 11th of February 2006, one of our very close friends Ila and Diwakar, met with an accident on their vacation and it was a big shock for us. Diwakar (Abhi's college friend) got hurt very badly but with the grace of God nothing was life threatening and all the injuries were curable. We went to see him and he was recovering fast. Everybody was trying to make him laugh and make him feel comfortable, as if nothing has happend and he was also enjoying it. Next day we were taking him out for a change and suddenly my phone rang. At first I thought of not picking it as the number was not familiar, but than I don't know what happend and I took the call.
"Hi, this is Alan Madison calling from Emeril Live, may I speak to Nidhi Gupta please", he said....I said, what??? He repeated that same thing and I said "OK, yes, this is Nidhi here"... "Congratulations Ms Gupta, your recipe has been selected as one of the 100 semi-finalists, can you tell me something about yourself, your husband and your family back in India." I immediately said, which recipe, I didn't send any recipe....actually, I totally forgot about it. Then he reminded me of sending the recipe of Paneer and I said, "Oh! yes, yes..now I remember." Everybody was waiting outside for me in the car, but Ila was there and as soon as she heard that its a call from FOOD NETWORK, she started telling everyone...."celebrity ban gayee" and I was still taking to Alen. After keeping the phone done, I thought I am a semi-finalist with 99 others...whatever.., I again forgot about it.
In May 2006, I was packing for our vacation to NY and again a call from a somewhat familiar number. "Hi Nidhi, this is Alan Madison"...he said and I said, (my heart was pounding out of my chest), "Oh! ya, tell me how are you doing?" He said, "I am good and just wanted to say Congratulations, you are one of the Four lucky winners of 'Emeril Live Scratch Contest' from 1600 entries. I'll be coming to your home along with my crew on 30th Of June 2006 to Shoot the recipe of Paneer." I was so happy....I thanked him a lot and immediately after it, I called Abhi.
After the shooting of making Paneer was over, we all enjoyed all the dishes that I prepared. One of my close friends Jeene was also there with us during the shooting. Then they interviewed me for almost 45minutes, asked me all types of questions related to India. Alan said, he wanted to take some of my shots at the nearby Indian store. So, from there we went to the Indian store and did a little bit shooting there as well.
Alan and the crew had there flight back to New York at 4:45 pm, the same day, so they had to rush to the airport now. They said good bye to us and appreciated my food a lot. We both thanked them and came back home discussing each and every moment of the day that we spent with them.
On August 21st 2006, I recived a call from the same area code, different number though....again a surprise for me. I thought it was over, but no...there was something more for me in store... "Hi this is Patricia LaMorte from FOOD NETWORK, may I speak to Nidhi Gupta please", she said. I said, "yes this is Nidhi here"..."Hi Nidhi, this Patricia and I have called to say Congratulations to you and to set up your flight and hotel reservations for 21st of September 2006 (which is my birthday), you are invited on the show and the shooting will take place on 22nd September 2006 at 4:00pm. You can also bring 5 other people with you to the show".
Abhi (was sitting next to me during the show) and Two of my favourite Uncles and Aunts, my father's youngest brother and his cousin brother along with their wives, went with me to the show and we all enjoyed a lot. Rest you have already seen on the Television. In the end, I would like to say..........
..It was an awesome and one-of-a-kind experince....I will never forget it in my life.