Twenty- one years ago today, I did a play called Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner in a small sixty seat fringe theater located at The Man in the Moon Pub in Chelsea. It launched my acting career. There had been a myriad of feelings during those months of preparation leading up to opening night, but fear was not among them. Wonder, excitement, confidence, frustration, exhaustion from hard work, and deep sadness as my marriage continued to fall apart.
My nightly walks to the theatre usually served to steady me, but that first night I thought my legs would buckle and I would surely toss my cookies. I was caught so off guard, suddenly seized by nerves.
“Why did I let Connie (our press agent) invite the likes of Steven Berkoff, Emily Lloyd and several Redgraves on our FIRST night? They are theatre royalty, and this is my first professional appearance – ever! Oh sh**, and Priscilla has the Duchess of York, and Sheridan Morley (influential theatre critic for the London Times) coming too! What was I thinking?” My self-doubt made me feel like I was walking the plank to certain demise, until I made sure the inner dialogue was replaced with “get a grip Julie Anne, one foot in front of the other, you can do this, the audience wants to be entertained – they want to like you, you can do this!” playing in my head like a broken record.
The Duchess of York coming back for seconds
Somehow I made it past the police barricades and paparazzi to the dressing room intact. I concentrated on blocking out all activity around me, including the palace sniffer dogs securing the building for Fergie’s eminent arrival, as I applied my stage make-up, dressed, and did some relaxation exercises. Still shuddering with adrenalin coursing through my body and praying I would not forget my lines, I made my way side stage to await my cue.
Then I took the stage, and the miraculous happened. I could feel all eyes upon me, yet the nerves disappeared as I lost myself in my character, Emily. I thrived on the audience’s every response – the gasps, the silences, and the laughter all culminating in the ecstasy of their applause each night. The reviews were mixed, but I’d pushed myself past my fears, taken a risk, and proved to myself I could do it. The risk paid off. The pub filled with congratulatory fans, celebrities, and dignitaries alike creating such a stir that more police had to be called in as people outside began to topple the barricades wanting join in the fun. Much to my surprise, the world press took notice of that tiny fringe production, and I soon found myself in high demand.
Nick and John on opening night
Buckling under the ravages of a contemptuous divorce while seeking solace in mood altering substances I managed to self-destruct rather than rise to the challenge. My acting career was left behind in the wake of that wreckage. Thankfully, I managed to get sober, start afresh, and find my passion again. I started creating, rather than performing, Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner. I won a few accolades along the way, and found a career that fed my soul as well as many tummies.
Launching new chapters
Both are lessons I remind myself of today as I am about to begin a new chapter. I can’t help marveling over the fact that once again the launch will be based on Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner, but this time in a bid to help you get them on the table. JulieAnneRhodes.com will be coming soon! I can’t wait to share my personal chef secrets in new and exciting interactive ways. In the meantime, here’s one of your favorite recipes again, my award-winning burgers.
Jewels Turkey-Jasmine Burger
1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced rounds
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
1/3 cup steamed jasmine rice
1/4 cup panko
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 Thai chili or serrano chile, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon peanut oil
4 sesame hamburger buns
1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise or store-bought
1 teaspoon wasabi powder
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon peel
1. Toss cucumbers, onions, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Let it marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Mix ground turkey, rice, panko, green onions, egg, sesame oil, soy sauce, Thai chile, and sugar very well. Make into 4 patties. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute burgers until cooked through, approximately 5 to 6 minutes per side (depending on how thick you make them).
4. While burgers are cooking, toast buns, and mix mayonnaise, with wasabi powder, ginger, and lemon peel in a small bowl.
5. Drain cucumber salad well.
6. Smear 1 tablespoon wasabi mayonnaise on toasted bun halves, spread with a layer of drained cucumber salad, then top with burger and cover with bun top.
Serving Suggestions: Serve with Five Spice Sweet Potato Oven Fries, and Graffiti Carrot Salad.