Cooking on the radio. Really? It worked!

Big Al Reno and Coach enjoy an early-morning pick-me-up. PHOTOS BY THE REHOBOTH FOODIE
June 4, 2013

Former Bad Company rocker Paul Cullen is certainly making a name for himself here on Delmarva. His new Unplugged and Uncorked concept has attracted food and wine fans to his popular cooking classes at The Cordrey Center in Millsboro, and those who engage his services for private parties - where he provides the wine, cooks the dinner and then plays guitar during the meal - absolutely love the experience. The guy’s a pro, after all.

As much as it pains me to do this, I have to thank that Rehoboth Foodie guy for sending me some photos and a description of Cullen’s recent appearance on The Rude Awakening Show with Bulldog on Ocean 98 Radio (98.1 FM). And of course, true to form, the Foodie horned in on the action. (That guy never met a microphone or camera he didn’t like!)

Bulldog’s Rude Awakening Show includes two other equally certifiable personalities, Coach and Big Al Reno. Together they kibitz, opine, rant and chatter every morning with great gusto. There aren’t many subjects that are off limits.

Cullen’s appearance might actually be the first instance of a cooking show held entirely on radio. And they pulled it off! Paul hooked up his handy-dandy induction burner (only the highest-tech stuff there at WOCM) and kicked off his on-the-air feast with handmade ricotta cheese slathered lovingly on crostini made from Steve Kogler’s Old World Bread. In spite of the early hour, Paul poured wine for everybody. (Sounds just like that Foodie guy - slurpin’ it up at nine in the morning!)

As Bulldog, Coach and Big Al slogged through phone calls, contests, songs, commercials, news and public service announcements, Cullen was well on his way to the second course: A Tuscan panzanella salad made with grilled Old World focaccia, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and red onion. From the crunch of the grilled bread to the ripe tomatoes, the salad was a textural roller coaster topped off with a drizzle of red wine vinegar and olive oil.

At this point it was becoming a challenge for these radio guys to use their mouths for two things at once. In fact, I’m not even sure what the exact FCC rules are regarding on-the-air chewing and lip-smacking. That notwithstanding, the studio filled with the aroma of grilling sausage as the bass-player-turned-oenophile/cook prepared what he called a Tuscan Scramble. In spite of the fact that a second bottle of wine was being passed around, the show continued smoothly as the savory hash of porcini mushrooms, leeks, garlic, red potatoes, pecorino cheese and sweet Italian sausage was plated and served.

“Dead air” is radio-speak for the unthinkable situation where nothing is being broadcast, other than … silence. It can happen for technical reasons, or perhaps the all-night DJ inadvertently locked himself in the bathroom during the extended version of “American Pie” or “In A Gadda Da Vida” (depending on how old you are…). It seemed like the dreaded dead air was inescapable, but these Rude Awakening guys are pros! Although the Seacrets-based radio studio in Ocean City now resembled (and smelled like) a restaurant, the show rolled on without a hitch. Bulldog quizzed Paul about his experiences touring with Bad Company (Paul replied that much of the experience was not fit for broadcast), and had him describe the typical Unplugged and Uncorked experience.

According to the Foodie guy (who I suspect ate more than anybody else), a great time was had by all. And the Rude Awakening boys survived to kibitz yet another day.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.

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