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Lunch with Denise Neil

Posted on May 6, 2022 by under Community, Food and Drink.    

It’s not everyday that I get to have local celebrity so, of course, I’m documenting this. Well, actually, I document any time I eat anywhere so I guess the post is not that special but the person is – for sure!


As per my usual MO, I only got pictures of our food so there are no pictures of the two of us. I know, “Pictures or it didn’t happen.” You’re just going to have to take my word for it that I got to have lunch with THE Denise Neil.

Denise and I met at La Galette. This place is so good and it is so close to one of my favorite pickleball hangouts (Seneca Park). I really don’t know why I don’t go more often. Probably because I’m mostly hanging out with guys who always want to go to TJ’s instead. TJ’s does have the good rootbeer float.


Anyway, here’s what I had that day: chicken salad sandwich in a croissant and chips. Denise had a quiche and salad.


They also randomly delivered some cookies and a cup of French onion soup to our table. I wondered if it was because they were trying to impress Denise, who is kind of a big deal. I mean, she’s a household name around here.


I’m not really into French onion soup, though I’m sure it’s very good, so it remained untouched. We were busy with conversation and enjoying the food that we did order that neither of us ended up eating the cookies either during lunch either. I did take those back to work and shared them with my friend Chris Townley.


One of the best things about having lunch with Denise, besides the good conversation, is that she makes me feel totally normal. She takes pictures of her food too! One can never have too many food pictures and we sat by a window so we had excellent natural light. Anyway, are alike in that way. No one really understands my obsession with take food pics but she gets it.

I first met Denise through Twitter back in 2008 — the early days — but we hadn’t really done anything together since the Wichita Eagle dining panel ten years ago. I follow her on social media and we see each other at events like the Wichita Orpheum’s Celebrity & Chef Cookoff (not as much the last couple of years because of the pandemic). She did speak to my Rotary club last year to promote her book. Other than that, we’ve only really seen each other a few times.

Recently, she’s gotten into pickleball (as with the rest of the world) and someone referred her to me, which was perfect because we already knew each other. It made sense because everyone knows I am completely obsessed with the sport and it has consumed my life over the last three years. Conversation at lunch centered around pickleball which is one of my favorite topics to talk about — even to people who really don’t care to hear about it. Anyway, as someone who is new to the sport, she had a genuine curiosity and I was more than happy to fill the gaps.

Denise is now officially part of our Wichita Pickleball Facebook group that’s about 2,200 strong and I cannot wait to see her on the pickleball courts!

Until next time, GNG.

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