Gilroy Today 2009 09 Fall | Page 6


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 .