Courtesy of Johnny Iuzzini In part II of Top Chef Just Desserts judge Johnny Iuzzini's cross-country motorcycle road trip, he gets injured and loses track of his beloved bike. What will happen next?
Johnny Iuzzini makes it to California with a wrist brace and no motorcycle. Photo courtesy Johnny Iuzzini.
Pastry genius and Top Chef Just Desserts judge Johnny Iuzzini is on a food-hunting road trip, riding his motorcycle from California to New York looking for some of America's best places to eat. Follow along with his travel journal here at foodandwine.com, and help Iuzzini find incredible food along the way by connecting with him through Twitter @Johnny_Iuzzini and @fandw using the hashtag #JIfoodride.
I have been mentally preparing for this trip for some time, along with tying up loose ends, finishing up professional obligations and, most of all, buying equipment. With this came a lot of traveling. Unfortunately, while doing a food festival in Cabo a few weeks ago, I tripped, fell and screwed up my wrist. After having X-rays, it turned out to be a chipped bone, not a fracture. That is a good thing, but I still have to wear a brace and ice it every night. I feel like a physical mess! But I will power through. This has been a life’s dream for me, so nothing will stop me (or will it?).
Back to the preparation: Imagine being on the road for a month with the equivalent of one suitcase. I had to pack smart. I had to get a GPS to find my way across the country, and that also allows me to listen to music and audio books through bluetooth on a special helmet communicator. I also had to have the bike wired to attach and charge my donated GoPro cameras, which will document the trip. Additional gear: clothes, tools, first aid, toiletries, books, vitamins, a journal, laptop.
I was very excited. I scheduled my motorcycle to be shipped to San Francisco through a transport company. (Essentially, they are brokers who connect to truckers who drive around the country delivering things.) I was told that my bikes would be safe, that they specialize in motorcycle transport and that everything would arrive before I landed. But a week before my flight, I was still waiting for the driver to pick up the bikes. Once the guy finally showed up, the bikes were loaded by what seemed to be a professional with lots of experience.
Next thing I know, I get a call that the guy has been pulled over and arrested for non-payment of child support. The trailer and the motorcycles have been impounded in Yonkers—and on top of that, the paperwork for the truck and trailer are not legal. Now we are scrambling. We are speaking to a sergeant at the police department in Yonkers, having to prove ownership to get the bikes released to the driver, who apparently doesn’t have his priorities in order. And now he has no trailer. So he puts the bikes in the back of a pick-up truck to go find a rental trailer. When he comes back, lo and behold he claims that the asphalt under my bike had collapsed and he found my beautifully prepped and tuned Ducati on the ground, damaged: the windshield cracked, handlebars bent, scratches, etc.
Fast-forward two days: The broker now has filed charges against the driver. They get into a swearing match over the phone, and the driver goes rogue. I finally get the driver on the phone as I am contemplating canceling the trip and calling the police to report my motorcycle stolen. He says that he is in Chicago and is continuing west to deliver the bikes. I start ordering the parts I think I need and have them overnighted to California. All I can do now is get out west and continue on my adventure. At least I know I will be having a great dinner in San Francisco. We have a reservation at my buddy Daniel Patterson’s restaurant Coi. I thought it would be nice to start on a delicious high note. Who knows what is coming next…