All Posts In Behind the Scenes

The Wedding Planner: Robert Irvine Says “I Do”

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Magazine, August 16th, 2012

Robert Irvine, Bride, and Guy Fieri

It’s a sunny Thursday in May at the Charles Krug winery in St. Helena, Calif., and Guy Fieri is giving Robert Irvine a shoulder massage.

In a few minutes, Robert will be marrying his girlfriend of three years, professional wrestler Gail Kim, and Guy, one of Robert’s best men, is giving the usually unshakable Restaurant: Impossible host a rubdown to calm his nerves. Just a half hour earlier, Robert was singing a different tune: “I feel the calmest I’ve ever been. I haven’t screamed, not once,” he said as he looked over the grounds where the cocktail hour and reception would take place. This whole wedding is his brainchild — conceived, planned and executed with the same military efficiency Robert brings to the massive two-day restaurant overhauls on his show. But today it won’t be a restaurateur who is dazzled by his work; it will be Gail. Robert has kept her in the dark about the details of the party, including the main event: the food.

“No one goes in there until I say it’s OK!” Robert barks, pointing to the venue. (So much for not screaming.) Satisfied with how everything looks, he throws back a beer in five gulps and keeps moving; the ceremony is about to start.

With Guy at his side, Robert beams as his daughters, Annalise, 15, and Talia, 11, read poems to the crowd, then he lets out an audible sigh of relief when Guy produces the ring and he exchanges vows with Gail.

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Break the Mold: Gelatin Watermelon

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Magazine, August 6th, 2012

Watermelon Gelatin
Each month, Food Network Kitchens chefs put more than 100 recipes to the test for Food Network Magazine. Dreaming up gelatin desserts for the July/August issue proved no easy feat: We wanted the bites to be fresh and elegant, yet whimsical and maybe a tiny bit kitschy (a concept we jokingly referred to as “jell-egance”).

The gelatin squares on page 90 of the July/August issue have a sleek modernist edge, but they originally started as a kid-friendly trompe l’oeil dessert (pictured above). We used the rind of a sugar baby and mini chocolate chips to give them their fun watermelon look.

Re-create it at home by pouring and setting the watermelon gelatin mixture in the hollowed-out half of a sugar baby watermelon. Make sure it’s completely set before cutting it, then apply the chocolate chips just before serving so they don’t turn to mush.

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Stacked Stuff: It’s National Ice Cream Sandwich Day

by in Behind the Scenes, Events, August 2nd, 2012

ice cream sandwichesYouTube Preview Image

Food Network Kitchens celebrate National Ice Cream Sandwich Day by seeing how many of the sandwiches they can stack at once — click the play button on the video above to watch.

Tell us in the comments: How many ice cream sandwiches do you think were stacked before the tower toppled?

To add a little more fun to your summer barbecues, bring along some sandwiches of the sweet variety. All you need is either store-bought or homemade cookies and several pints of ice cream in your favorite flavors — then scoop away! Read Squeezed in the Middle for ice cream sandwich recipes and inspiration.

Behind-the-Scenes: Blending entwine Wines

by in Behind the Scenes, Drinks, June 29th, 2012

rob rupa and karl entwine blending session
Last year, Food Network made the exciting announcement that it was partnering with Wente Vineyards to unveil entwine, a portfolio of California wines intended to inspire food lovers to dive into the vast and sometimes overwhelming world of wine with ease. The four varietals fans can get their hands on now include Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Earlier this month, Executive Chef Rob Bleifer and Culinary Writer Rupa Bhattacharya from Food Network Kitchens traveled to California to visit fifth generation winemaker Karl Wente from Wente Vineyards to conduct a blending session for the newest bottles of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. While I’m surrounded by food all day long, I was curious to learn more about the winemaking process, so we asked Karl and Rupa to break down several of the basics.

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Season the Rim: How to Make Flavored Salts

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Magazine, June 28th, 2012

Perfect Margarita
Dress up your margaritas with flavored salt. A bold flavor on the rim is a fun, easy way to gussy up a classic. In a recent issue of Food Network Magazine you’ll find three awesome variations, but I wanted to share one more favorite that we didn’t have room for this time around: a mixed-berry salt.

The tartness of the freeze-dried fruit goes perfectly with a margarita. And of course, feel free to experiment with whatever fruits you like!

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Behind the Booklet: 50 Things to Grill in Foil

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Magazine, June 25th, 2012

50 Things to Grill in Foil
Coming up with 50 of anything for Food Network Magazine’s monthly 50-recipe booklet can be daunting — in the past, the magazine has featured 50 tacos, 50 brownies and 50 grilled cheeses — but this month, chefs in Food Network Kitchens tackled the ultimate way to cook out: in foil packs.

Sure they included the usual suspects — chicken wings and various vegetables — but it’s dishes like Paella (No. 12), Gnocchi (No. 11) and Upside-Down Cakes (No. 47) that up the wow factor.

Traditionally, paella was cooked on an open flame, says Claudia Sidoti, Food Network test kitchen manager. Cooking paella in the foil pack resembles that traditional style, bringing a nice crunch to the rice, she adds.

Read tips our chefs picked up after making dozens of foil packs

Leftovers Make the Perfect Family Meal

by in Behind the Scenes, June 19th, 2012

family meal leftovers
Leftovers: This is what Family Meal is all about at Food Network Kitchens. It’s important that we limit the amount of wasted food in the kitchens. This past week, we had multiple meals left over: some jerk chicken from a dinner we hosted for one of our cable partners, grilled meats from a lunch meeting we held with the digital department and some fennel from Anne Burrell’s satellite media tour. Miriam, the Throwdown queen, roasted the fennel with lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper, then finished it off with Parmesan breadcrumbs. It was so good — I ate it and I don’t even like fennel. (Try Giada’s Roasted Fennel recipe at home.) So even though we get swamped with various types of projects, we’re grateful that they help make Family Meals happen.

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Perfect Crispy Grilled Chicken Thighs

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Magazine, June 14th, 2012

Crispy Grilled Chicken Thighs
In the June issue of Food Network Magazine, I put my own spin on fried chicken and eliminated what I think is the worst part of making the much-loved dish at home: the frying part. My kitchen always ends up spattered with oil. Not to mention, disposing of all the oil is a big pain.

To make this recipe, I took a technique I learned for making Italian chicken spiedini (essentially skewered chicken). Instead of deep frying, you coat chicken kebabs in bread crumbs and then grill them for a crispy, crunchy crust.

It took a couple of tries, but the natural fat in the chicken literally fries the bread-crumbs as they grill.  You get the best of both worlds — the crispiness of frying and the smoky taste of grilling. Just make sure to keep the heat of your grill on medium so the chicken doesn’t get overly charred.

Try it: Crispy Grilled Chicken Thighs

Get more cookout ideas from Food Network Magazine

Military Grill Battle Fun Facts — Iron Chef America Special Edition

by in Behind the Scenes, Shows, June 3rd, 2012

military grill battle behind the scenes
Behind the scenes on Iron Chef America, Food Network’s culinary production team is responsible for making sure that the rival chefs have everything they need to cook and present their dishes — from a stocked pantry to plenty of serving vessels — even outside of Kitchen Stadium. Daniella LaRosa from Food Network Kitchens recently shared some fun facts about what it took to pull off last night’s special episode for Grilling Week — the first-ever Military Grill Battle in Hawaii — that pitted Iron Chef Cat Cora against Iron Chef Michael Symon and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. They weren’t alone, though: Each Iron Chef was paired with a sous chef from the Navy, Army or Marine Corps.

Was setting up Kitchen Stadium in Hawaii more difficult than the mainland?

Creating Kitchen Stadium from scratch took a lot of time. We had treated both the Tailgating and Grilling battles like they were challenges from Next Iron Chef — specifically in that equipment and pantry items were going to be limited, and they might have to share during the battle. Because shipping anything to Hawaii was so expensive, we ended up having to spend about four full days personally shopping for equipment and specialty foods in Hawaii for the Iron Chefs and their sous chefs to use during the battle. We used all local produce — the Secret Ingredients were all sustainable and local.  We used as many local vendors as we could find or found through word of mouth while we were there. It was also very difficult on both shoot days when we had to set up Kitchen Stadium at 6:00 am using the headlights from our rental car.

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The Chopped Basket Revealed: The Masterminds Behind the Mystery Ingredients

by in Behind the Scenes, Shows, April 20th, 2012

chopped basket rob bleifer
“Ugh! Who comes up with these crazy basket ingredients?” This is a statement that I commonly hear and read after watching an episode of Chopped. But the truth is, someone does have to research and choose what four ingredients will go into a Chopped basket — three different baskets per episode. Do the ingredients get tested first? Has there ever been a repeated ingredient? And why are four ingredients the magic number and not three or five? These are all questions I asked Food Network Executive Chef Rob Bleifer last week when I sat down with him in the Food Network Kitchen.

How are the ingredients picked?
Sara Hormi, the culinary producer of the show, and myself sometimes work together, sometimes work apart, but then come together to compare each other’s work. We’ll sit across from each other weeks in advance and knock out themed shows or random baskets — potential flavor and color combinations that will end up on the plate and, of course, that one ingredient that will get people talking. We have a list of ingredients we’ve already used in front of us, which is around 15 pages long, so I cross-reference that. In the past, we may have used an ingredient twice, but sometimes it’s intentional.

Is there a secret to a good Chopped basket (one part this, two parts that, etc.)?
While we’re creating the baskets, if we have to think too long about the possibilities of dishes, the baskets go away. If it takes us more than 15 seconds for a solution, it’s out. The contestants don’t have that much time.

We’ll often try, certainly in an entree, to have a grain or starch or one ingredient that is substantial, whether it’s a protein or produce. But there’s no hard and fast rule that there has to be this, there has to be that.

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