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.

Restaurant Revisited: Longbranch Steak and Seafood

by in Shows, July 11th, 2012

Restaurant Impossible

Robert Irvine arrived in Fayetteville, Ga., to help owner Lisa Howard revive Longbranch Steak and Seafood, the restaurant her husband Lindsay gave her two years ago as a wedding gift. Robert and his team raced against the clock to clean up the kitchen, get the staff into shape and give Lisa the confidence and tools to run a successful business. We checked in with the Howards to see how things are going a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible makeover.

“We must admit, it was somewhat of a culture shock to our regulars,” says Lindsay Howard. To help longtime customers adjust, the Howards added back a few of their old favorites alongside Robert’s new menu items, a combination they believe will help them succeed. “We feel confident that we can make our restaurant a place where people want to continue to come and bring others as new patrons,” says Lindsay.

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Chef Wanted: Fromagerie Update

by in Shows, July 5th, 2012

This week on Chef Wanted, star Chef David Burke called in Anne Burrell to help him find a new executive chef for Fromagerie in Rumson, N.J. Among Anne’s four candidates was Phil Deffina, a six-year veteran of David’s restaurants. This was Phil’s chance to prove himself to his boss and mentor and to finally make the jump from sous chef to executive chef. He did just that, serving an ambitious menu and keeping the kitchen under control during his trial night of service. “I knew coming into this that David has high expectations of me,” Phil said. We checked in three months later to see how he’s doing at Fromagerie.

David says his veteran sous chef (from David Burke Kitchen in Manhattan) has proved to be a great fit for Fromagerie: “Phil has fresh insight into cuisine for this community of affluent and discerning tastes.” He says Anne’s influence really helped Phil shine in his interview: “Anne is one of the most talented female chefs in America. Pushing the chefs motivated them to turn up the burners and perform at new levels of creativity.”

The restaurant is improving every day. Phil is working with David on new menu items and several promotions, including burger night on Tuesday, lobster night on Wednesday and steak night with special wine pairings on Thursday. Phil is also running a seafood special, focusing on local Jersey ingredients this summer. “Sales are slightly up from 2011 and we are working to make it an upward trend,” says David.

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Team Bobby Falls to Two

by , July 3rd, 2012

This was a tough week for Team Bobby, with two finalists going head-to-head in a Producers’ Challenge battle of cocktails. No matter how it shook out, Bobby would lose a member of his team.  He was hesitant to say anything at all in the pitch room (or pitch beach, as it was this week): “I didn’t want to sway the judges one way or the other based on my comments.”

In the end, Bob and Susie decided to send Malcolm Mitchell home. Despite food that consistently impressed them, Malcolm was never fully able to hone his “soulful” POV. “Malcolm’s POV was confusing,” Susie says. “After eight weeks, we need to know who he is through his food.”

Malcolm left the competition in good spirits: “I leave happy. I wanted to win it, but at the end of the day, I did everything that I could do. I was real.”

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Chef Wanted: James Beach Update

by in Shows, July 1st, 2012

Chef Wanted James Beach

At James Beach in Venice, Calif., owners James Evans and Daniel Samakow called in Anne Burrell to find a new executive chef for their modern comfort food spot. Anne brought in four candidates, and after two grueling challenges and exhausting nights of service, James and Daniel extended an offer to Vincent Walker.

Vincent, a three-time cancer survivor, impressed the owners and Anne with his determination and delicious food. “This kid is a fighter,” Anne said. “He’s ready to resume his dream of becoming an executive chef.” Several weeks after the show was filmed, we checked in with the owners to see how Vincent is doing in his new job.

Right after Chef Wanted was filmed, Vincent got married. “We gave him time to wed and leave his prior position,” the owners explain. “He has been meeting with us throughout, but has officially started this week.”

The owners are thrilled that James Beach is having a record year in terms of sales, and they only expect things to get better: “Summer , our busy season, is right around the corner, and with the new chef and the show, we expect it to be off the charts.”

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Chef Wanted: Mucho Ultima Update

by in Shows, June 28th, 2012

Chef Wanted

At Mucho Ultima in Manhattan Beach, Calif., owner Scott Linquist needed a new executive chef to help turn his business into a dining destination. Anne Burrell arrived with four candidates lined up, confident that one would be the right fit for the modern Mexican restaurant. After two tough cooking tests and an intense dinner service, Scott hired Bryon Freeze. We checked in with Scott to see how Chef Bryon and the restaurant are doing.

Six weeks after Bryon joined the team, Mucho Ultima is back on the right track. “We are ecstatic!” says Scott. “Bryon’s energy and passion are exactly what we saw from him during the show.” Scott and Bryon have both worked many long days since the taping and Bryon “comes in here pumped and ready to attack every day and never once has complained about the workload.”

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Farewell to Retro-Rad

by , June 26th, 2012

Emily Ellyn and Alton

Team Alton will bring only two finalists to Miami after saying goodbye to Emily Ellyn in last Sunday’s episode. Emily embodied her “retro-rad” POV to a T, but after seven weeks she was still unable to open up and get comfortable on camera. After her presentation to the media panel, “awkward” was the word Jess Cagle from Entertainment Weekly used to describe her. “That’s a word you never want to hear about someone in front of a camera,” said Bob Tuschman.

Alton saw great potential in Emily: “She was a ready-made package. You could look at her and know what she was about. Retro-rad was great. She lives it. When she wasn’t on camera, she was on the side crocheting. She was the real thing!”

Through “happy tears,” Emily reflects on the Star experience and working with Alton: “There’s no way to even prepare for something like this. The whole thing was awesome. I gave it my best, and I made great food. I was more upset when I was voted off that I let Alton down. He was there for us 5,000 percent.”

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Team Giada: Down to Three

by , June 19th, 2012

Team GiadaTeam Giada thought they had last Sunday’s food-court challenge in the bag. A Mexican-themed kiosk, with Martita on their side? No problem. But for South African dessert queen Linkie Marais, Mexican food was uncharted territory: “I don’t even know what they serve for dessert in Mexico!” Stumped, she ran with Martita’s suggestion of churros and hoped for the best, despite the fact that she’d never made them before.

Sure enough, the texture of the churros was off and Linkie tried to re-brand them as “biscotti.” But her confidence was shaken, and it showed. She ended up in the Producers’ Challenge, where she gave Bob and Susie a solid chicken dish, proving that she shouldn’t be pigeonholed into pastry. Still, in the end, it was pitch room veteran Nikki who prevailed, sending Linkie home.

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