Gilroy Today 2009 09 Fall - Page 6

Just Passing Through… Jan Wahl Film Critic KRON Channel 4 DURING one of the many dinners associated with the Garlic Festival, Gilroy Today had an opportunity to share a meal with Bay Area media celebrity, Jan Wahl. Jan has a long history in media. Currently she is a film critic on KRON where she interviews celebrities, reviews movies and offers commentary on show business. Jan also lectures on topics like “Critical Thinking in Mass Media.” Jan is a member of the Directors Guild of America and has also won two Emmy Awards. Jan was invited by the Festival to be one of the celebrity judges for the annual Garlic Festival Cook-Off on Saturday and to host the SakaBozzo Master Chef Challenge on Friday. She is a bundle of positive energy with a contagious connection with anyone who gets near. Jan is rarely seen in public without a hat. Hats have become her trademark… after all she is in show business. Her hats are usually colorful and unique and as she says, “It’s the show that counts!” Besides, she notes, she doesn’t need to spend as much time primping her hair! Gilroy Today asked Jan to comment on her experience in the Gilroy community, its people and the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Her first comment summed it up “I loved it.” She went on to comment on the remarkable sense of community and the lack of ego in the people who make the Gilroy Garlic Festival happen. After a tour “backstage” in Gourmet Alley, she gushed about the “delicious organized chaos.” Everyone was having fun and proud of what they did — from the cleanup crews to the mushroom brushers on to the pyro chefs. She also marveled that even with knives, hot food, and flaming pots no one was getting hurt! She marveled at the undercurrents of creativity and theater in just about everything that went on at the Festival. She loved how the Festival celebrated the renegade, the unusual and those who marched to a different rhythm. On stage with the celebrity judges, she learned about the nuances of taste and preparation. She loved the banter between news hosts — Dan Green and Kate Callaghan, the judges, the chefs, the cook-off contestants, and the audience. Jan compared the Garlic Festival to the movie business but noted that the Garlic Festival has something the movie business has lost —“It is a celebration of things that are good, honest, fun and wonderful. It is a Festival that honors the ethnic mix of all things American… Italian, Japanese, Hispanic, Greek… all of us.” If Jan made a movie about Gilroy and the Garlic Festival, it would probably start with Don Christopher and focus on his passion for garlic, farming, and the community; and it would probably feature stories of the real people behind the Festival. People like veterinarian Dennis Harrigan, chairman of the Recipe Contest. “He’s a vet and animals make for good cinema!” At the Garlic Festival, Jan saw the warmth of the people of Gilroy. She saw a Festival that helps “keep the community solid.” She saw humor, “And these days we need more humor!” Thanks Jan for passing through and know that you are welcome back any time. 6 FALL 2009 GILROY TODAY