You know how you meet someone and you can just tell they are destined for something great?
Meeting Anthony Sedlak, Food Network chef was one of those moments, and I was so sorry to hear that he was found dead in his Vancouver apartment. Such talent and promise doesn't come by often.
I was just wrapping up the shooting of my Food Network Canada Show, Just One Bite!, and Anthony was embarking on his first week of shooting The Main. In fact, they dismantled my set to build his, and we chatted about how fleeting and yet exciting the whole experience was. We were both keenly aware that our respective opportunities were a start, and nothing more. And what one does with that start makes all the difference.
I was the "senior girl" with 39 episodes under my belt and Anthony was as curious, open and honest as a new, nervous 23-year-old could be. He and I had the same production team and crew so we dished about them a bit. We had the same host coach, Peter Joseph, who helped us each understand what one's personal best performance was all about. We knew Peter was right with his crazy catch phrase, but it would take us each some time to embody the true meaning of (and stop giggling about...) "the host's job is to create magic between action and cut."
What he meant was that the rest of the details were superfluous, that this, like any other job, was work. And that if people were going to enjoy watching us, trust what we had to say and believe that we were comfortable in the spotlight, we were going to have to do something difficult. We were going to have to put aside our own insecurities and focus on our skills. We were going to have to "bring it" each and every second that the camera was on. Neither tired, cranky, confused nor creative and personal conflicts have a place at this job.
Anthony's talent and warmth came right through the camera. He was a teensy bit endearingly awkward off camera but, man, when the food was in his hands and the camera was on his grin, he could light you up. Born to be where he was. He had "it."
Anthony, in person, was the best hugger you could hope to be hugged by. I liked him with a little more meat as he was in the early days, but even his slimmer, more muscular, grown-up self hugged you like he meant it. Running into him later at various events, restaurants and on the street was a treat. He had the kind of charisma that could make you feel like you were the only person in the room (or on busy Bloor Street as one chance encounter had.)
My deepest condolences to his friends and family for this great loss. I only knew a fraction of Anthony and for a relatively short period of time, but I will never forget what it was like learning with him and watching him fly.