Ever wonder what it’s like to work the reservation line for the trendiest restaurant in NYC? 16 years ago, playwright Becky Mode channeled that experience into her hit comedy Fully Committed, and she’s since recrafted the hilarious one-man-show for Modern Family’s Jesse Ferguson. Now on Broadway through July 31, Ferguson plays 40 entitled callers and the one down-on-his-luck actor stuck manning the phones. Here, Mode, the former TV writer for Smash, talks to Food & Wine about updating her work for the modern food obsessive and her own dietary quirks.
The play features an offstage guest. How did you decide to swap the culinary icon Tim Zagat for the British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal?
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Everyone had an opinion about that. There were lots of contenders. Not all of them were in the food world, interestingly enough. And we really thought about keeping Zagat because there’s certainly still the name recognition. But other celebrity chefs were suggested: Thomas Keller, Mario Batali, Paul Bocuse... We were trying to think of culinary superstars and tastemakers and powerhouses. It couldn’t really be a reviewer because the show has to do with making a reservation and they don’t really announce themselves... But I like how Heston Blumenthal works. I’m very happy with it because I feel like, from what I’ve been able to glean, the greatest celebrity to a chef is another chef.