All Posts By Sara Levine

Sara Levine is a Senior Online Editor at FoodNetwork.com and a culinary-school-trained home cook. Several years ago she quit her magazine job to go to Le Cordon Bleu, which led to a stint in Food Network Kitchen. Although cooking professionally wasn’t her thing, she loves frequenting restaurants and putting her own amateur culinary skills to work in her tiny kitchen.

Enter for a Chance to Win Tyler Florence’s New Cookbook

by in Books, Contests, December 13th, 2012

Tyler Florence Cookbook Giveaway

Whether Tyler Florence is cooking in his restaurants in San Francisco and Mill Valley, Calif., on TV or at home for his three kids, fresh ingredients are always on his mind. “It’s what California cuisine is all about,” says the 16-year Food Network veteran. “I always think about myself as a middleman, a translator of flavors who respects the produce.” Tyler’s newest cookbook, Tyler Florence Fresh, fully embraces this ingredient-driven mantra.

Tyler recently chatted with FN Dish about the book, sharing why it’s different from his previous seven cookbooks, his advice for home cooks, and the backstory behind the adorable chick perched atop his shoulder on the cover.

We’re giving away copies of Tyler Florence Fresh to three lucky Dish readers. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. Tell us: What’s your favorite winter produce and why?

Want a sneak peek? Check out three recipes from the book and read on for our Q&A with Tyler.

Read official rules before entering

Donatella Wins People’s Choice at Meatball Madness 2012

by in Events, October 12th, 2012

Donatella and Giada

Next Iron Chef judge Donatella Arpaia took home the People’s Choice award at last night’s Meatball Madness, hosted by her fellow maven of Italian cooking, Giada De Laurentiis. Donatella served up classic tomato-braised veal meatballs, a recipe she attributed to her mom, who proudly helped serve them up to hungry crowds all night.

Psyched to finally beat out last year’s winners from the Meatball Shop, whose booth was as popular as ever, Donatella thanked the guys from Pat LaFrieda Meats — stars of Meat Men and sponsors of the event — who were in part responsible for the tastiness of her meatballs. She said she’s purchased her meat from them ever since she got into the restaurant business.

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Michael Symon Headlines Autism Speaks Chef Gala

by in Events, October 11th, 2012

Michael Symon and Morimoto

Michael Symon still feels bad about getting chopped last season on Chopped All-Stars, but not because he’s a sore loser. The Iron Chef was competing for Autism Speaks, and says it still gets to him that he wasn’t able to win $50,000 for this charity that’s near and dear to his heart. “You feel like you’ve let down a greater cause, not just your own well-being,” he says. “It beat me up a little bit.”

Michael got his chance to give back by serving as the host of this year’s Autism Speaks Celebrity Chef Gala, which took place Tuesday in New York. More than 90 chefs from coast-to-coast, including fellow Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Next Iron Chef contender Nate Appleman, descended on Wall Street to cook for this worthy cause.

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Restaurant Revisited: Gusanoz

by in Shows, August 29th, 2012

Gusanoz

When Robert Irvine arrived at Gusanoz in Lebanon, N.H., husband-and-wife owners Nick Yager and Maria Limon were struggling to keep their six-year-old restaurant afloat. Locals once flocked to Gusanoz to taste Maria’s authentic Mexican food, but growing pains got the best of the restaurant and Maria had all but lost her passion for the business. Robert faced a big and expensive mess to clean up, from the decor to the tired menu. A few months after their Restaurant: Impossible makeover, Nick filled us in on how the new-and-improved Gusanoz is doing.

After a slow start, Nick reports that sales at Gusanoz are now steadily growing. To improve their bottom line, the owners took Robert’s advice and cut down on labor costs significantly: “Our total labor is approximately 28% weekly, slightly higher than the 27% Robert asked us for, but definitely in the right ballpark,” says Nick.

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3 Days to Open: Big Guys Sausage Stand

by in Shows, August 10th, 2012

Big Guys Sausage

In suburban Chicago, Brendan O’Connor and three of his best friends desperately needed Bobby Flay’s help to make their restaurant dreams come true at Big Guys Sausage Stand. With just three days until the grand opening, Bobby tackled clashing personalities, unimaginative toppings and a depressing interior to help the guys create a sausage spot that impressed even the toughest of critics: Chicago’s Sandwich King, Jeff Mauro.

But what happened when Bobby headed home, leaving the guys to fend for themselves? We checked in with Brendan to see how Big Guys is doing a few months after Bobby’s intervention.

Brendan is happy to report that Big Guys is off to a great start: They are averaging $1,500 per day in sales and their numbers are growing daily thanks to neighborhood buzz, good local press and many repeat customers.

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Restaurant Revisited: Stella’s

by in Shows, August 8th, 2012

Restaurant Revisited: Stella's

In Stratford, Conn., Michael Savoie and his mother Cami needed Robert’s help to keep their 15-year-old Italian restaurant, Stella’s, alive. Despite working exhausting 90-hour weeks, Michael was clueless about food costs and lacked the leadership skills to effectively manage his staff. From management to decor, Robert and his team gave Stella’s a complete overhaul. We checked in with the Savoies a few months later to see how business is going.

In the months following their Restaurant: Impossible intervention, sales at Stella’s are up 20 percent.

Michael is letting his mother have access to the business financials. He now has a better grip on how to manage food costs. As the new general manager of Stella’s, Cami is also handling the catering side of the business and helping to keep costs down.

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Restaurant Revisited: Italian Village

by in Shows, August 1st, 2012

Robert Irvine at Italian Village

At Italian Village in Milmont Park, Pa., Rob Mellon Sr. and his son Rob Jr. desperately needed Robert Irvine’s help to return their 30-year-old restaurant to its early glory days. It was a big job: Robert and his team not only had to overhaul the menu and dark interior, but also remedy long-standing issues between father and son that were hurting the business. We checked in with the owners a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible intervention to see how the restaurant is faring.

Since Robert and Restaurant: Impossible visited, sales at Italian Village are up 18%.

The owners took Robert’s advice and reduced the number of menu items to about 30. Robert’s recipe for Drunken Penne remains on the menu and is a big hit: “Almost every night, somebody orders it,” says Rob Sr.

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Restaurant Revisited: Zandi’s

by in Shows, July 25th, 2012

Zandi's

At Zandi’s in Millersville, Md., sisters and co-owners Evette Aponte and Yvonne Zandi were just a few months from closing down when Robert Irvine showed up. He was discouraged to find not only lackluster food, poor service and tired decor, but a lack of passion on the part of the owners. A few months after their emotional Restaurant: Impossible makeover, we checked in with Evette and Yvonne to see how business is going.

Since Robert’s Restaurant: Impossible intervention, sales at Zandi’s are up 39%. They’ve gone from roughly 30 customers per day up to 70. Evette and Yvonne are slowly catching up on their debt and will soon be able to start paying their mother back.

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Restaurant Revisited: The Main Dish

by in Shows, July 18th, 2012

The Main Dish

When Robert Irvine arrived at The Main Dish in Meridianville, Ala., owners Lynn and Ken Tverberg were in desperate need of help. They bought the restaurant five years earlier because Ken loves to cook, but with no restaurant experience at all, the couple found themselves in debt and working 80 hours a week. We checked in with Lynn and Ken a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible makeover to see how the restaurant is faring.

Lynn and Ken have seen a strong increase in sales since Robert’s intervention. “The new menu and decor has brought in old and new customers,” says Lynn. “Some customers don’t like change, and I have made sure that I explain to them that change sometimes is hard but necessary. For every one customer that is not happy, we have three new tables that come in and love the new menu.” Read more

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