Editor's Note: This transcript was automatically transcribed, so mistakes are inevitable. You can contribute by proofreading the transcript or highlighting the mistakes. Sign up to be amongst the first contributors.
Hey, guys, Mike Rowe here, it's the way I heard it, the only podcast for The Curious Mind with a short attention span, episode number one, 66, Good grief.
One hundred and sixty six of these tales now officially in the can. This one is called a disaster in the Kitchen. A Disaster in the kitchen. Who, pray tell, with this disaster in the kitchen? B that's up to you to find out. I'll give you a hint. I wrote the story to coincide with a famous anniversary that we celebrate every year around this time in August. I don't want to tell you what the anniversary is. That would be too big of a hint.
I'll tell you after the podcast. I will tell you now, however, that the title for the story came from a nickname that I myself enjoyed Once upon a time.
And when I say enjoy, I mean endured.
I was referred to affectionately as a dick, a disaster in the kitchen after a notable mishap during my QVC days.
This would have been in 1990.
Late one evening, I was filling in for a guy named Bob Bowersox who hosted a. A regular show for QVC called In the Kitchen with Bob and his loyal viewers were no doubt surprised to find Mike in Bob's kitchen on that particular evening demonstrating, demonstrating cookware. QVC debuted a new line of cookware back in those days called Fall.
It was coated with this nonstick surface called poly tetra fluoro ethylene. It's just a fancy word, I think, for for Teflon.
Anyway, my job in selling this cookware was, of course, to demonstrate it. Everybody on QVC has to cook. You know, when you're doing these kitchen shows, these cooking shows. So I had I had an omelet going on the right burner and I had pancakes going in the middle and I had some chicken fricassee going in a big skillet all coated with poly, tetra floor ethylene. Things are going pretty well. And then I, I got distracted.
I went to the other side of the set to deal with the thing. Cameras, of course, are still rolling. Flames broke out. I think it was the omelet that ultimately went up in flames first. Don't know why, but it did. Flame spread pretty quickly. Roll of paper towels, little too close to the stove top. That spread to a towel which spread to a a bag of sugar.
And, well, it all went it all went very bad very quickly, the way disasters often do.
Product coordinators ran out with fire extinguishers. There was fire retardant foam flying through the air anyway. No harm done. I mean, you can still watch it on YouTube. I think most of my misadventures on QVC were categorized in those days and and chronicled and can now be viewed to my horror. But ever since they called me a disaster in the kitchen and I remembered that moniker and I thought it fit well for the tale you're about to hear.
Speaking of short stories, Dylan Moscowitz, you know his deal over Cafe Altura, you probably don't, but his story is right here, along with hundreds of other zip recruiter sends them to me.
People who have gone to zip recruiter Dotcom cigarroa old Dylan Moscowitz. He was looking out for a dick, but for a Dossi, a director of Coffee Cafe Altura is one of those organic coffee companies.
And he knew I didn't even know there was such a thing as a director of coffee, to tell you the truth. I mean, who did? I mean, he's a COOH. Dylan is. I know what that is, but a Dossi there's an acronym for everything these days. But he needed he needed a good director of coffee. And you know how the story goes. You went to Zipp recruiter Dotcom. Rhône posted his job and he did it for free.
And in no time he was inundated with quality candidates. That's the way it that's the way it works. Now, Dylan also used zip recruiters candidate rating feature to filter his applicants so he could focus on the most relevant ones first.
But in the end, he found his Dossi in just a couple of days, which is why it's no wonder that four out of five employers who post on ZIP recruiter Dotcom get a quality candidate through the site within the first day. Try it. It's free zip recruiter dotcom row. Don't forget that part for crying out loud.
Otherwise your success story won't be in my pile of happy customers.
Zip recruiter Dotcom cigarroa WECT This is the way I heard it.
More specifically, it's a disaster in the kitchen.
At 29 years of age, MacWilliams was in no way afflicted with the domestic gene, a self-proclaimed disaster in the kitchen, she had no desire to marry, become a housewife or have children. What she craved was adventure. So when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, she immediately volunteered for the wax. The Women's Army Corps. Sorry, said the recruitment officer. You're too tall, too tall, McWilliam said. Too tall for what? How short does one have to be to fight for her country?
The recruitment officer had shrugged regulations. He said, You're too tall for the army. So MacWilliams turned to the Navy and applied to the waves. Women accepted for volunteer emergency services. How tall are you as the recruitment officer? Six to MacWilliams replied. Sorry, ma'am, you're too tall for the Navy. You've got to be joking, she said. No, ma'am, you're definitely too tall. Sorry, frustrated but determined, MacWilliams applied to the CIA back when they were still calling it the OSCE.
The Office of Strategic Services accepted her application and found her to be perfectly qualified in spite of her height.
After a year of secretarial work, she was promoted to a researcher and then an overseas intelligence worker with top security clearance. Before long, she was in the Pacific theater handling sensitive communiques between various allied leaders. Then, just as an exciting career began to unfold, Agent McWilliams was assigned to the Special Projects Division, where she was handed a list of ingredients and told to start baking cakes cakes. She said, You got to be joking, Captain. I'm not inclined to joke about the morale of our sailors and airmen, said Captain Coolidge.
Haven't you seen the papers? It's a bloodbath out there. MacWilliams had in fact, seen the papers and she understood the gravity of the problem. The war in the Pacific really was a bloodbath every day, a new attack, one more horrific than the next. But did anyone really think troop morale could be improved with thousands of individual cakes? Apparently, Captain Coolidge did. Each cake must measure three inches in diameter. He instructed no more, no less.
They must fit snugly into a wire mesh box of the same size and contain any or all of the approved ingredients. Your task, he continued, is to determine the most repelling combination. Do you think you can manage that? MacWilliams sighed and nodded. Not exactly the adventure she had hoped for, but orders were orders. So Agent McWilliams began experimenting with the ingredients she'd been given and testing the results. It was difficult, time consuming work, and Captain Coolidge was never satisfied with the results.
Twenty percent repelling unacceptable. Try again. Thirty percent repelling unacceptable. Try again. Forty percent repelling. That's unacceptable. Try again. And so she did back to the kitchen again and again, searching for just the right recipe, no MacWilliams 50 percent repelling won't cut it. Try again. Finally, Agent MacWilliams baked a cake that was truly repulsive, hard, small and black. It looked like a hockey puck and contained an unholy combination of black dye, copper acetate, organic acid and decayed flesh when it dissolved in water.
Sixty percent of those tested were visibly repelled. Not perfect, but close enough for government work. And so on April 13th, 1943, the O.S.S. announced a scientific breakthrough, a cake whose purpose was not to be eaten by people, but rather to keep people from being eaten. Overnight, demand for the first government issued shark repellent went through the roof. The Army wanted them. The Navy wanted them. The Marines wanted them. For the first time, men awaiting rescue in the shark infested Pacific Ocean had a measure of protection against hungry sharks, a small cake and a mesh box that dangled from their life vests and dissolved in seawater.
Did they work, did MacWilliams repulsive recipe really repel ravenous sharks?
That's hard to say. What we do know, aside from some positive test results, is that MacWilliams little black cakes dramatically improved morale. And of course, we also know that this recipe was not her last because Julie McWilliams left the O.S.S. and fell in love with a man named Paul, a sophisticated fellow with a deep love of the culinary arts. It was Paul who introduced his new wife to French wine, French food and most of all, French cooking.
In fact, with Paul's encouragement, the woman who was too tall to fight for her country reached new heights on television, paving the way for Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck, Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, Jamie Oliver, Emeril Lagasse and every other celebrity chef whose name might ring a bell today, such as the legacy of the self-described disaster in the kitchen, whose first recipe was so repelling not even a shark would eat it.
A cook who towered above all the others named Julia Child. Anyway, that's the way I heard it. All right, then, did you figure it out, Julia Child, please tell me you know who she is. Please tell me you're old enough to remember the legendary Julia Child. I, I hope I doubt it is possible. But she was alive back when back in 1990.
Anyway, when I was having my own disaster in the kitchen.
I like to think she was home watching the way I talked about the way I heard it. The only spontaneous analysis of the only podcast for the curious mind with a short attention span wherein I explained to you the circumstances that led me to write the story you just heard. In this case, the explanation will be short and sweet is very simple. The anniversary I alluded to in my introduction, of course, is the 30 second anniversary of Shark Week unfolding next week, August 9th, I believe, on the Discovery Channel.
Thirty two years Shark Week has been going on.
I hosted a few. I hosted it a few times back in 2006, where I was bit by several sharks.
In the course of testing, a shark suit with Jeremiah Sullivan dragged. I was to the bottom of the ocean and shaking like a tug toy.
Very exciting day for me. I'm happy to report that the shark suit works. And is still living proof that guy's been beaten so many times, many thousands of times, Jeremiah Sullivan, he'll probably make an appearance during Shark Week this year.
I will not at least not visually, unless they run some old dirty jobs. Shark Week episodes, which they might. They've been running that show a lot. Thank you. By the way, for those of you who watched our Dirty Jobs road trip in July. That was great fun.
Really enjoyed seeing the old gang again and got a lot of nice letters and feedback from fans of the show.
A lot of questions, too, about whether it will reboot the franchise in general. That, of course, remains to be seen. We'll see what kind of cards the universe deals us vis a vis this Korona thing.
But in the meantime, Shark Week does begin on the 9th of August. And I am narrating, I think, the kick off show, it's a look back at er Jaws, you know, all that great footage of sharks coming out of the water, breaching, you know, flying into the air, usually with a seal in their mouth. I remember when they when they discovered that phenomenon breaching and really started to film it with high speed photography. It was a very, very big deal back in the day.
And it still is.
So, God, I can't believe it's August. Unbelievable. Anyway, August 9th, it's another shark week, 30 second anniversary. I thought I thought celebrating Julia Child would be a good way to ring in Shark Week. You know, that's that's really how the how the story happened. I wanted to write something for Shark Week, but I didn't want it to be obvious. So I Googled sharks and then I thought about repellent.
You know, I tested some shark repellent, too, with a guy named Doc Gruber in Bimini years ago. And so I started looking for stories about repellent. And then I found the whole Julia Child thing and I thought, wow. There it is. That's the hook, a disaster in the kitchen who made inedible cakes, shak cakes, shark repellent anyway, rather proud of myself for that one.
I hope you liked it. Check out our jaws.
If you can't get enough of the sound of me talking, I'll be doing that on the the 9th of August and I'll be back next week with more of this kind of thing.
Have a good one.