When it comes to transforming America’s failing restaurants on Restaurant: Impossible and giving them a second chance at future success, fans know that Robert Irvine is all business, dedicated to teaching owners how to turn their eateries into profitable productions. And each week on Restaurant Express, you see him challenging restaurant hopefuls to survive the ultimate seven-week culinary road trip. But just recently, Robert invited fans to get to know him beyond television and divulged insider details about seemingly all aspects of his life. In an #AskIrvine Twitter chat, Robert revealed his favorite meal, deserted island must-have, packing preferences when traveling, secret to achieving bulging biceps and more. Read on below to get caught up on the highlights and learn 10 little-known facts about this longtime chef and professional restaurateur.
1. Even though he’s in tiptop shape, Robert admits, “I believe every meal should end with something sweet.”
2. When asked what single food he would bring with him on a deserted island, he answered: “Water. You can’t live without it.”
3. “I love Stella and Heineken,” Robert admits of his favorite beers.
4. For more than 10 years, Robert was a member of the British Navy.
5. Robert has been cooking since he was 11 years old.
Given the chilly weather, shorter days and darker nights, comfort food season is at the top of everyone’s mind lately, and while many look to mac ‘n’ cheese or casseroles for hearty satisfaction, most forget that risotto is every bit as rich and decadent as those classic picks. This creamy, cheesy, Italian rice-based dish has been given a bad rap — some claim it’s too tedious to prepare at home — but Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian is on a mission to dispel that culinary rumor once and for all.
Catching up with fans at the 2013 New York City Wine & Food Festival last month, Geoffrey assuaged fears of cooking risotto from scratch — something he’s deemed “the final frontier” — explaining, “It’s nothing more than rice …. It’s not that much work …. It’s just a technique.” He broke down that technique during his live culinary demonstration preparing a mushroom-lobster risotto, and he noted that the payoff promises versatile recipes and can-do results. Read on below to hear from Geoffrey and learn his top tips for mastering risotto at home.
10. If you’re new to cooking risotto, stick with a basic recipe featuring chicken stock, cheese and olive oil.
9. Opt for a pan that offers enough surface area to cook the rice. Whether you use a large skillet or deep pot, just be sure there’s ample space for the rice to meet the heat.
Some of you know that I live in San Diego, which I love. You may also know (if you read my post on pumpkin puree) that I feel a little left out of the fall rituals that I cherished during my years living back East — pulling out the cardigans, folding up and putting away all my “summer clothes,” switching to roasted dinners, eating winter squash (I just had perfect watermelon, and it’s November!). But I had a glimmer of a cold front arriving the other day. I hopped out of the shower, grabbed my jar of coconut oil, and it was solid. You see, coconut oil melts at 76 degrees F, so it has been probably 10 months since I’ve seen solid coconut oil in my home. I can officially join the rest of the country celebrating autumn. Solid coconut oil is my personal version of the Pumpkin Spice Latte — it lets me know it’s OK to start my holiday shopping.
Coconut oil is perhaps the most purchased and used oil in my house, because I use it in the kitchen and as a beauty product; I have one jar in the pantry and one in my bathroom. This versatile oil is solid at comfortable room temperature, but its low melting point means it is usually on the brink of melting. This is actually a huge plus, because it can act like solid fats (butter, shortening) in a cool room, but just adding a few more degrees of heat will enable you to treat it like almost any other oil (with an amazing subtle taste). So if you want to cook with it as a solid (try replacing some of the shortening or butter in crust), then you would likely want to chill it a little in the refrigerator (or just keep your kitchen cold). If you want to cook with coconut oil as a flavorful substitute for other oils (try sauteing carrots in coconut oil with some shallots and chipotle powder), then you can just spoon out the oil and let it melt in a pan — or pop it in the microwave for a few seconds. To use coconut oil as a beauty product, I just scoop out a little and place it in my palm, where it melts from my skin’s heat within seconds.
It’s Thursday, and while that means everyone is just one day away from the weekend, it also means it’s time to throw back — to an earlier period in Food Network’s history. Check back on FN Dish every Thursday to find the latest #tbt of your favorite chefs and get a retro look at their earliest days on TV.
Before Ina Garten was known as the Barefoot Contessa, she was working in Washington, D.C., at America’s most famous address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. While at the White House, she focused on nuclear energy policy; it wasn’t until later that she learned she was destined for a life in food. In 1978 Ina and her husband, Jeffrey, bought Barefoot Contessa, a specialty food shop in the Hamptons on Long Island. After years under Ina’s leadership, the once-tiny store had been transformed into a thriving business with dozens of employees and a stellar local reputation. She eventually sold Barefoot Contessa in 1996, but the nickname stuck with her, so much so that her first Food Network show premiered with that title in 2005.
When it comes to cooking, Ina has a passion for creating feasts that are at once familiar and fancy with the best, freshest ingredients available, which is something she’s tried to instill in her fans as well. Each week on Barefoot Contessa, Ina highlights a theme, event or ingredient that’s particularly relevant to her, and she features it in recipes that are not only accessible and easy to prepare but deliciously satisfying as well. Some of her most lauded dishes include Engagement Roast Chicken, Mac and Cheese and Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, but she’s known to create dressed-up plates as well, like Salmon with Lentils and Croissant Bread Pudding. No matter the cuisine and meal, however, Ina’s sure to incorporate can-do techniques and handy tips to help viewers re-create her recipes with ease.
You’ve seen Chopped judges dish out unapologetically honest criticism to chefs and even take their places in the kitchen while cooking on After Hours, but they’ve never before had a say in what mandatory ingredients land in the mystery baskets. While there’s no plans just yet to let the panel exercise this would-be-new power, you can be sure that some judges’ picks would be more ordinary than others, while some would likely be too demanding to ever assign to competitors.
FN Dish caught up with longtime Chopped judge Aarón Sánchez at an event hosted by Ortega, where he was celebrating the start of tailgating season and his partnership with the Mexican food company, and he told FN Dish the four ingredients he’d include in the baskets if there were to be a tailgating-themed episode of Chopped. “I would definitely put some sort of jam, like a marmalade or some sort of preserves, so you could make a barbecue sauce,” he said before adding, “I would do chicken necks for sure,” in a creative twist on the classic chicken wing. “I would do some sort of spicy [ingredient], maybe chipotles in adobo ‘cause … they’d be awesome with the marmalade,” he added. “Then I would do a blue cheese, then I would make a sauce.”
You’ve seen every episode of Restaurant: Impossible and have even ventured to try for yourself some of the overhauled eateries featured on the show. You’re eagerly tuning in to the latest premieres of Robert’s all-new show, Restaurant Express, and you’ve already cast your Fan Vote for the contestant you think should win the final prize. But when it comes to the host of these game-changing series, how much do you know about Robert Irvine? This British-born chef and restaurateur has been cooking since he was a boy, and he is perhaps as famous for his signature muscled physique as he is his no-nonsense attitude and fearless approach to any mission on television. Take the quiz below to test your knowledge of all things Chef Robert, and find out if you’re the ultimate fan.
Are You the Ultimate Robert Irvine Fan?
Are you worthy of the title Robert Irvine Superfan? Answer these questions to find out.
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Robert has deemed what classic comfort food his all-time favorite food?
Spaghetti and meatballs
Cheeseburger and french fries
Roast chicken and mashed potatoes
Chocolate cake and ice cream
On which of the following shows has Robert not appeared?
The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs
In 2012 Robert married Gail Kim, a professional wrestler. Which of the below Food Network stars was Robert's best man at his wedding?
Robert and Gail vacationed in which country on their honeymoon?
Which common construction tool is Robert famous for wielding on Restaurant: Impossible?
How many days a year does Robert spend traveling away from home?
On Restaurant: Impossible, Robert and his construction and design teams have how much money to spend on renovations?
Robert typically wears jeans and what color shirts while filming his shows, Restaurant: Impossible and Restaurant Express?
Black or white
Gray or red
Blue or black
Black or gray
How old was Robert when he became a member of the British Royal Navy?
Which famous public figure did Robert welcome to an episode of Holiday: Impossible?
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Given her penchant for quirkiness and her fun-loving demeanor, it’s no surprise that Food Network’s newest star, Damaris Phillips, is quick to embrace the lighthearted spirit of tomorrow’s spooky-sweet holiday. The host of Southern at Heart admits to dressing up for not only Halloween, but several other occasions each year, and she isn’t content with ordinary costumes for witches, pumpkins or ghosts. Her Halloween getups require a bit of imagination, as well as inspired clothing and coordination among friends. FN Dish caught up with Damaris to chat about these costumes, plus all things tricks and treats; read on below to learn her plans for this year’s fright-night bash, her all-time favorite Halloween costumes and her must-have candy.
How will you be celebrating Halloween this year? Damaris Phillips: Me and all my girlfriends are dressing up as Britney Spears from different music videos. And she had some good outfits, like, phenomenal outfits. I really want to do the Pan Am girl from “Toxic.” Or I wanted to do “Oops!… I Did It Again” — the red pleather — but we have a guy friend that wants to do that, so …. The shoes are unfortunate, so I was OK giving it up.
So you don’t shy away from the costumes. DP: Any reason to dress up, I am in. So I don’t only dress up at Halloween. I dress up for my birthday; we have a costume party every year for my birthday. I dress up probably seven times a year at least.
Halloween brings out the fun in everyone — young and old. And in between all the Halloween party planning, FN Dish was able to get ahold of a very bewitching photo. So who is this adorable, now-household name?
We’ll give you one hint: He won Food Network Star and is the “Real-Deal Holyfield.”
You’ve seen her on Food Network Star, outlasting 11 rival competitors to become the Season 9 winner, and starting this Sunday at 10:30am/9:30c, she’ll star on her first-ever series, Southern at Heart. But Damaris Phillips remains relatively new to the Food Network family and perhaps a bit unknown to her fans. This Kentucky-born culinary school instructor is passionate about her large family, matchmaking in the kitchen and, of course, all things southern. But there’s more to know about Damaris, like her most-detested ingredient, favorite kitchen memory, go-to culinary tool and last supper must-have. FN Dish recently caught up with her in her hometown of Louisville, Ky., and found out the answers to these questions and others. Read on below to hear from Damaris, then browse photos to see her out on the town in Louisville.
What’s your Achilles’-heel ingredient, one that you hate to work with or encounter in someone else’s dish? Damaris Phillips: Button mushrooms.
What was your most memorable meal? What, where, who — details, please! DP: I don’t have a most memorable, like one memorable meal, but we had brunch every single Sunday growing up, so when I think about eating with my family, I think about having the same food every Sunday.
I’ve always had the dream of being that mom on the block who just always happens to have a big kettle of brothy soup simmering on the stove, on the off-chance that the neighborhood kids playing kickball in the street want to come in out of the cold and warm up to a steamy mug of goodness. Word would spread, and perhaps some neighbors would drop by, lured by the savory smells wafting out of our always-opening front door. I’d smile warmly (I’m certain I wouldn’t be on a work deadline of any sort), and I’d hand them a bowlful of liquid heaven, along with a hunk of crusty bread for dipping.
Turns out, though, my four girls don’t play kickball, and I don’t allow them in the street anyway. Plus, as I type, just days from November, I’m wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Soup is a year-round affair, if you ask me, but even here in San Diego, fall and winter seem to call for it all the more. Everyone loves soup this time of year, right? It makes us feel comforted and cozy. But in case you needed them, here are six more reasons to love soup:
1. Soup’s a no-brainer way to lose weight.
Yes! Did you know there are studies showing that simply starting meals with a healthy soup promotes weight loss? I love habits that do the work for me. All you have to do is adopt the habit. Why not start with my White Gazpacho or the Roasted Tomato Winter Gazpacho in my cookbook?