Chef Bob Waggoner Plays Not My Job

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Chef Bob Waggoner, host of UCook! with Chef Bob on PBS, is known for his southern haute cuisine. After cooking all over the world, he settled in Charleston, S.C., where he headed the esteemed Charleston Grill for 12 years. We've invited him to play a game called "It's delicious ... you just have to be willing to chew it for a while." Three questions about very northern cuisine.


And now the game where we invite on people who excel at one thing and ask them to do something else entirely.

Chef Bob Waggoner cooked all over the world before finding a cool place to work in Charleston, South Carolina. He was head of the esteemed Charleston Grill here. And he is the host of the PBS show "U Cook with Chef Bob." Bob Waggoner welcome to WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Great to have you here.

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. BOB WAGGONER (Host, "U Cook with Chef Bob"): Thank you for having me. What a treat. Excited to be here.

SAGAL: So let's talk food. You're known for your expertise with a what's Southern haute cuisine.


SAGAL: What is that? Is that like you eat your mac and cheese with a silver spork? What is that?

(Soundbite of Laughter)

Mr. WAGGONER: Well, I've done I've spent a lot of time in Burgundy. Eleven years in France learning how to cook with some of the top chefs in France.

SAGAL: Right.

Mr. WAGGONER: And brought a lot of that, a lot of what I learned in France to the Low-country.

(Soundbite of cheering)

(Soundbite of applause)

SAGAL: Did you have to prove yourself to these people when you showed up? Did you know that you were going to respect their cuisine?

Mr. WAGGONER: Pretty much just like anywhere. Just like anywhere. You get in and, of course, coming from France and I spent a little time in Nashville before I came here. They said I'd like you to play with some of the southern things, play with some of the, you know, grits and things like that. And my initial taste of grits was in a very inexpensive hotel for breakfast one day, and it was as close to wallpaper paste as you can get. So I was thinking.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WAGGONER: That's going to be a tough one.

SAGAL: Really?

Ms. SALIE: What's the secret to grits, Bob?

Mr. WAGGONER: Stone-ground. Fresh stone ground. The true quality.

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. WAGGONER: The true - there's a great - what it is what they'll do is you'll see the corn. And it's not like we forgot to pick the corn, but the, you'll see the corn out in the fields and it'll be dry and looking tired and you'll be driving by going these guys don't even pick their corn in this state.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WAGGONER: So anyway, what they'll do is they'll keep it on the husk and then when the chefs will order it they will actually take the corn off and grind it order. So was an incredible...

Ms. FAITH SALIE (Contributor, "CBS Sunday Morning"): That's what grits is?

Mr. WAGGONER: It's actually the corn. It's...

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: She thought it was a fish.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SALIE: I just know it's delicious. I never thought about whence it came -corn.

SAGAL: Did you not know that grits were corn?

Ms. SALIE: No.

SAGAL: She keeps looking for it at the zoo.

Ms. SALIE: But I was probably 24 before I realized pickles were cucumbers once.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: Pickles are cucumbers?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SALIE: Aren't they?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. ADAM FELBER (Writer, "Real Time with Bill Maher"): Next thing you'll be saying that toasted bread.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SALIE: Bob, you're a really nice guy and you're very warm and you obviously want to make cooking accessible to people. But when you were training in France, we're they hard-core with young chefs?

Mr. WAGGONER: They were definitely tough. It was tough because I didn't speak a lot of French. I thought I did listening to my tapes in Hollywood going everyday driving and listening to these tapes saying: bien sur, avec plaisir.

Mr. WAGGONER: ...and, you know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WAGGONER: Eleven years later, married to a French woman and my daughter and lived in Burgundy 11 years, never did I hear a French person say bien sur, avec plaisir. It just doesn't...

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. WAGGONER: Which actually means, why not, with pleasure, which I don't think they do so...

SAGAL: Right.

Mr. WAGGONER: So maybe that's what it is.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WAGGONER: But I paid money for these tapes and I...

SAGAL: As a student of French myself, was it ever true that Pierre worked in the library?

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of applause)

SAGAL: Because I kept hearing that she did. Yes.

Mr. WAGGONER: And my tailor is rich.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SALIE: Michelle does go to the plage(ph).

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: That's good. I'm glad to hear it. So you're over there, you mean you have to prove yourself because they're pretty hard-core when it comes to cooking? Did you ever do anything that you were going out and impress - to impress them, to win them over?

Mr. WAGGONER: Well, you know what, it was just more, just I sort of stayed in the back and showing what I knew and organizational skills. And I knew how to break down baby chickens and things like that.

SAGAL: Right.

Mr. WAGGONER: Faster than they could.

SAGAL: Break them first?


(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: You broke...

Mr. WAGGONER: Oh, we will broke - them down.

SAGAL: You break. You have to make them feel bad about themselves.

(Soundbite of chicken sounds)

Ms. SALIE: You're not as cute as you think you are.

SAGAL: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SALIE: What's the worst thing you've ever made?

Mr. WAGGONER: I'd say tripe. Stomach.

SAGAL: Really?

Mr. WAGGONER: Stomach veal. Stomach cooked in France.

Ms. SALIE: And it was un-delicious?

Mr. WAGGONER: It was un-delicious.

SAGAL: Really?


(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WAGGONER: When it's done really well, it's spectacular, and that's rare.

SAGAL: Right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: Well, in France where you trained, they eat parts of animals I didn't even know existed.

Mr. WAGGONER: Pretty much.

SAGAL: Yeah.

Mr. WAGGONER: Yeah. We did a dish, one of the three-star mission we did a pigeon and it was - we would stuff it inside the spleen of a pig. And you would, so you would put the whole pigeon inside this...

SAGAL: Wait a minute.

Mr. WAGGONER: ...spleen like a balloon.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: So you take a spleen...

Mr. WAGGONER: Sort of like. Take the pig...

SAGAL: Here's the recipe, take one spleen.

Mr. WAGGONER: Take a spleen.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: Take the pigeon, stuff it in the spleen.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WAGGONER: Yes. Mm-hmm.

SAGAL: Then what?

Mr. WAGGONER: Well, it's like a balloon. It's big enough so you can get it in there pretty easy.

SAGAL: Yeah. Yeah. Do you have to inflate the spleen? Do you have to go...

(Soundbite of Sagal mimicking inflating a spleen)

Mr. WAGGONER: No. No it doesn't.

SAGAL: Oh. All right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FELBER: Do you have to lubricate the pigeon?

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. WAGGONER: Yeah. There is some pork fat involved.

SAGAL: All right. So you...

Mr. WAGGONER: Yeah. The hardest thing is persuading the pigeon.

SAGAL: Oh, no, no. Guys...

Mr. WAGGONER: It's talking the pigeon in going to get him in there.

SAGAL: Yeah.

Mr. FELBER: No way I'm going in there. No way.

SAGAL: No, no, no, no, no, no. Guys, I'm making - he's making my mouth water. Go on.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: Pigeon into the spleen. Now what?

Mr. WAGGONER: One spleen.

SAGAL: One pigeon. Then what?

Mr. WAGGONER: Inside the pigeon we're stuffing the pigeon with foie gras.

SAGAL: Right.

Mr. WAGGONER: So duck liver stuffed inside the pigeon, Port - half a bottle of Port almost in side.

Ms. SALIE: Ooh.

Mr. WAGGONER: So Port...

SAGAL: Inside what?

Mr. WAGGONER: Inside the spleen. So it's now it's like a balloon.

Ms. SALIE: Makes it easier for the pigeon.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: Now you got Port. You got pigeon.

Mr. WAGGONER: That's how we get him in.

SAGAL: Yeah. Okay.

Ms. SALIE: Right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: You get a pigeon drunk enough there's no end to where he'll go.

Mr. WAGGONER: Where he'll be.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: All right.

Mr. WAGGONER: He'll go anywhere.

SAGAL: So the pigeon and the Port is in the spleen and now what?

Mr. WAGGONER: Foie gras in pigeon. And then...

Mr. FELBER: Right. Then you order out.

Mr. WAGGONER: ...chopped truffles, then they'll be tied.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: All right. So anyways, so...

Ms. SALIE: Truffles.

SAGAL: All right. Go on. Go on.

Ms. SALIE: You had me at truffles.

SAGAL: You truffles. Right.

Mr. WAGGONER: Yeah. Truffles in.

SAGAL: Yeah?

Mr. WAGGONER: Tie up the spleen.

Ms. SALIE: With what?

Mr. WAGGONER: Kitchen rope.

SAGAL: Spleen string.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WAGGONER: Kitchen...

Ms. SALIE: Okay.

Mr. WAGGONER: Kitchen string, backed in the oven.

Mr. FELBER: And at some point the pigeon is going, say wait a minute.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WAGGONER: So, okay...

SAGAL: And then so, at some point you said, the spleen what?

Mr. WAGGONER: The spleen will blow up like a bubble.


Mr. WAGGONER: Like a balloon. And at that point it's 18 minutes. It's cooked to a perfect medium rare. And then they'll take that out and...

SAGAL: Oh, for people taking notes about what oven temperature?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WAGGONER: Eighteen minutes at 375.

SAGAL: Three-seventy-five. All right.

Mr. WAGGONER: Eighteen minutes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WAGGONER: And this is baked. And then it's brought out in a very tradition French way to the table...

SAGAL: Yeah.

Mr. WAGGONER: ...with this spleen balloon with the pigeon in it. And then, of course, the waiters will puncture the spleen balloon and all these incredible aromas of Port and foie gras and truffles and...

Mr. FELBER: And a lovely sound.

Mr. WAGGONER: And a lovely sound, of course.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: On the theory that everything sounds better in French, what is that dish called in French?

Mr. WAGGONER: Pigeon farci au foie gras.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FELBER: Well, I could've called that.

SAGAL: So they bring it out to the table and then they literally vent the spleen?

Mr. WAGGONER: Yes. That's what they do.

SAGAL: There you go.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. FELBER: Set the table.

SAGAL: Ad on that note. Well, Bob Waggoner, we've invited you here to play a game we're calling...

KASELL: It's Delicious. You just have to be willing to chew it for a while.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: You are known, as we've said, for southern haute cuisine. We're going to ask you about northern cuisine. Way northern cuisine. Answer three questions correctly, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, Carl's voicemail.

Carl, who is Chief Bob Waggoner playing for?

KASELL: Bob is playing for Sean Long of North Charleston, South Carolina.

SAGAL: All right.

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. WAGGONER: Oh, good, a local.

SAGAL: A local. First question, one of the things they just love up in Greenland is something the native Inuit call mattak. Mattak. What is mattak? A, harp seal testicles. B, The raw hide of the narwhal, you know, the unicorn of the sea. Or well, it's just their name for Spam. They really love Spam.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WAGGONER: The unicorn thing would probably be the most interesting to some...

SAGAL: The narhwal?

Mr. WAGGONER: Yeah, the narhwal thing. Yeah.

SAGAL: You're going to go for the narhwal?

Mr. WAGGONER: I'm probably going to go for the narhwal when I come to it.

SAGAL: Well, you have to, you can't, you have to commit.

Mr. WAGGONER: I'd like to go with the narhwal.

SAGAL: Yes. You are right. It's the narhwal hide.

(Soundbite of bell)

SAGAL: Raw narwhal hide.

(Soundbite of applause)

SAGAL: Nice. Yeah.

Ms. SALIE: Nice.

SAGAL: Although if you're having guests, and there's no narwhal in the larder, you can use white whale hide. So there you go. You know what's a great way to prepare narwhal? Stuff it in a spleen.


(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WAGGONER: A whale spleen.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: Next question. Over in Iceland, if you stop in for dinner with some friends, they might give you some Hakarl, which is a delicacy made of shark. If you're eating Hakarl for the first time, you might get what advice on how to eat it? A, hold your nose as you eat it. B, make sure you have a bucket near by or C, get very drunk first.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: Something they tell you if you're eating Hakarl for the first time.

Mr. WAGGONER: Harkarl? Any Harkarl specialists?

SAGAL: Harkarl. Harkarl.

Ms. SALIE: Sounds like a bucket nearby to me but...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WAGGONER: I'm thinking you'd probably want to drink something.

SAGAL: Yeah. So you're going to go for that?

Unidentified Woman: C.

SAGAL: They like C.

Mr. WAGGONER: What are you thinking? Drink something?

(Soundbite of cheering)

SAGAL: They like C.

Mr. WAGGONER: But it's probably going smell pretty bad. I'm going to go with the aroma. You probably you plug your nose.

SAGAL: Hold?

Mr. WAGGONER: Yes. I'll play. Yes.

(Soundbite of applause)

(Soundbite of cheering)

SAGAL: You're right.

(Soundbite of bell)

SAGAL: Turns out that the shark meat is allowed to rot and ferment, which makes it edible and it has a very pungent smell of ammonia. But apparently doesn't taste as bad as it smells. So you want to hold your nose when you eat it, at least the first time.

Mr. WAGGONER: They must've trained in France.

SAGAL: They must've.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: That spleen is sounding pretty good after those thing. All right.

(Soundbite of laughter)


SAGAL: Finland, another northern country, has its own national cuisine. The nation endured a food-related diplomatic crisis when which of these happened? A, a dinner with President Bill Clinton and his family went awry when Chelsea Clinton refused to eat the entree, roast moose, saying, I won't eat Bullwinkle.

B, Italian President Silvio Berlusconi launched a campaign against Finnish cuisine, saying, quote, "Finns don't even know what prosciutto is." Or C, the Finns contributed food aid to Africa, a hundred tons of smoked reindeer meat, and the starving refugees sent it back.

(Soundbite of laughter)

KASELL: Good luck with this one.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WAGGONER: Let's go with Bill Clinton's daughter.

SAGAL: I wish, but no, it was actually Berlusconi. Berlusconi has been on a jihad against Finnish cuisine for some years.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: Said they don't know what good food is. I guess he's not a big fan of Lutefisk Bolognese.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: All right, Carl, how did Chef Bob do on the show?

KASELL: Chef had two correct answers, Peter. And that's good enough to win for Sean Long.

SAGAL: Well done.

Mr. WAGGONER: All right.

(Soundbite of applause)

SAGAL: Congratulations. Bob Waggoner's new show is called "U Cook with Chef Bob," it's on PBS.

SAGAL: Chef Bob Waggoner, thank you so much for being on the show with WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

(Soundbite of applause)

(Soundbite of song, "Everybody Eats When They Come To My House")

Mr. CAB CALLOWAY (Bandleader): (Singing) Have a banana, Hannah. Try the salami, Tommy. Get with the gravy, Davy. Everybody eats when they come to my house.

Try a tomato, Plato. Here's cacciatore, Dory. Taste of bologna, Tony.

SAGAL: In just a minute, Carl puts on his poodle sweater in our listener limerick challenge. Call 1-888-WAIT WAIT, to join us on the air.

(Soundbite of credits)

We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! from NPR.

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