Amazing: If Advertising Can't Bring Fame, Try Reality TV

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These days strangers come up to Oswald Mendez in fancy Midtown restaurants and gush, "Team Cha-Cha-Cha! You're the best one!"
Oswald and Danny
Oswald and Danny Credit: Robert Voets

That's not because Mr. Mendez is managing partner-integrated communications at Hispanic agency Vidal Partnership. He's also a two-time contestant on CBS's "Amazing Race" reality show, called back for the "Amazing Race: All-Stars" series because viewers loved the Cuban-American's laid-back style. How laid-back is he? While other contestants back-stabbed and catfought their way to the finish line in one episode, Mr. Mendez took a little break to go shopping in Hong Kong. (He and race partner Danny came in fourth that season.)

Now they're back, and narrowly missed winning one recent leg because Mr. Mendez decided to stop, in Zanzibar, to buy some fruit.

"The prize for that leg was a catamaran," he explained. "What would I do with a catamaran in New York? I can't even pronounce it."

Unofficial fan websites follow Mr. Mendez's doings, and the fans avidly watch the race videos posted on CBS.com. Check out "Oswald and Danny Get Confused in Ecuador," in which the two men drive along squabbling about whether to turn left.

The toughest part of being a contestant? "Flying coach," he says. Especially that killer Ushuaia-Buenos Aires-Sao Paulo-Johannesburg-Mozambique leg.

A chat and chew about China
China -- big country, lots of people. That's our general impression of the place. That and it's sort of like Second Life -- hundreds of U.S. marketers just know they have to get a foot in the door, even if they know nothing about the country or how it works. One way to get a quick education in things Chinese is to check out James Fallows' monthly reporting in The Atlantic. Or, better yet, do what Adages did and get yourself invited to a lunch with Fallows on one of the few days a year he's in the States. Fallows and his wife have taken up residence in Shanghai, a home base from which Fallows explores factory cities across China. He can rattle off a list of those cities -- none of which you've ever heard of, all of which are bigger than New York. Fallows will also tell you that the air quality in parts of China will rot the fan blades off a jet engine -- which raises interesting questions about flying as well as breathing. And did you know that in China, Taco Bell requires reservations? And one factory slaughters 3,000 hogs a day to feed its work force -- and that's just lunch. Obviously, Adages was paying attention to the wrong parts of the speech -- but read Fallows' coverage (and supplement it with AdAgeChina!) for real substance. Also on hand for the lunch were: Meredith A. Kopit, publisher of 02138; Elizabeth Baker Keffer, publisher of The Atlantic; Peter J. Murphy of United Technologies; Siemens CMO Tom Haas; and Patrice Ingrassia, director-office of public policy at Ernst & Young.

Chefs march to the beat of a high-school drummer
Last week was the week before Easter, and we all know what that means: Time to load up on Paas! But also time to head over to Food & Wine's Best New Chefs party and simply load up. As has been previously indicated, Adages is temporarily abstaining from the booze, so we remedied that by doubling up on the food intake. On top of that, we were accompanied by not one but two of the AdAge.com Freeloader staff, who were able to sample the Beringer wines, Charles Heidsieck bubbly, Starbucks-flavored white and black Russians, and Macallan Scotch (yes, it does take two Freeloaders to handle the drinking job of one Adages).

This year Food & Wine Editor in Chief Dana Cowin gathered revelers together on the 52nd floor of 7 World Trade Center (luckily Rosie O'Donnell wasn't around to offer up her insane conspiracy ravings). It's an impressive space with impressive views, and it grew impressively loud when this year's chefs were ushered in with a drum line from Malcolm X. Shabazz high school.

Adages isn't going to give you a play-by-play of the food and the chefs (check out Freeloader for that). But we would like to congratulate Food & Wine VP-Publisher J.P. Kyrillos. Turns out he met his fiancee at last year's Best New Chefs party.

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Contributing: Andrew Hampp, Nat Ives, Laurel Wentz
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