SEATTLE - It's the show of all shows: Oprah's Favorite Things.
A mere mention from the talk show diva can be worth big money. A Seattle chef's "world's best" mac and cheese made this year's list.
Chef Kurt Beecher Dammeier shared the wealth with customers Friday. He offered free mac and cheese at his Pike Place store.
Chef Dammeier opened Beecher's Handmade Cheese in 2006. He has no clue how Oprah discovered his flagship mac and cheese. As far as he knows, she's never been to his store.
Six weeks ago, Oprah's team called him out of the blue.
"It really hasn't sunk in yet. I got several calls from Oprah's team asking for samples and I was so nervous. They called recently to let me know I made the cut."
Chef Dammeier was sworn to secrecy until the show aired Friday. The Mercer Island entrepreneur has spent weeks bulletproofing his website in anticipation of the "O Factor."
But there's one big problem. The secret weapon in the dish is an aged flagship cheese. It must age 18 months before it can be put into the dish.
"We can't sell anymore than we already have from 18 months, so we hope we have enough to fill the need. We just don't know."
Oprah's team told Dammeier to expect several hundred thousand hits to his website following the publicity. An hour after the show aired in Seattle, Beecher's site already had 20,000 hits.
Another area business knows the power of the "Oprah effect." Clarisonic in Bellevue made Oprah's 2007 list. She called the Clarisonic "the miracle massage for your face."
The company scrambled to prepare. It added servers on its website and beefed up inventory. But, the company sold out almost immediately.
"We had to give customers IOU's to put under their Christmas trees," said Bill McClaine of Clarisonic. The woman who could sell ice cubes to Eskimos boosted Clarisonic sales a whopping 1,000 percent in three years.
"It's a marketer's dream. What better way to get the word out about your product than by Oprah and 20 million of her closest friends?" said McClaine.
Dammeier is hoping for that same golden touch. He gave away more than 500 pounds of free mac and cheese to customers in Pike Place.