All Posts In Shows

Chopped Up: Ted’s All-Star Recap, Round One

by in Shows, March 6th, 2011

Chopped host Ted Allen weighs in on Round One of the most exciting season yet.

Dog lovers everywhere can breathe a collective sigh of relief: Michael Proietti pulled it out in the dessert round to win the first round of our Chopped All-Stars series, a full-on face-off between four fan favorites from The Next Food Network Star. We’ve had our fair share of aggressive competitors on the show, but I think Michael is the first one so dedicated to culinary victory that he’d threaten puppies in exchange for a win.

Michael Proietti is the first to move on to the Chopped All-Stars finale.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Michael was joking and would never harm a domestic animal, excepting, perhaps, a lobster. He was, in fact, arguably the sweetest and definitely among the funniest contestants ever to compete on The Next Food Network Star—both major reasons we wanted him to compete in All-Stars. But it was his cooking skill, not his personality (or even his elaborate hair) that now have taken him to the April 3 finale, where he’ll compete to win $50,000 for the charity of his choice, the Jed Foundation.

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Behind the All-Star Chopping Block With Alex Guarnaschelli

by in Shows, March 4th, 2011
On Chopped All-Stars, Alex is tasked with judging some good friends.

There’s never been an episode of Chopped that wasn’t intense, but starting this Sunday night, things are about to get crazy. Alex Guarnaschelli is a fixture on the judges’ panel for Chopped All-Stars, where she’ll taste the mystery basket creations of Food Network heavyweights (Robert Irvine, Claire Robinson, Anne Burrell, Duff Goldman), some of The Next Food Network Star’s most memorable finalists (Brad Sorenson, Michael Proietti, Lisa Garza, Debbie Lee), celebrity chefs (Beau MacMillan, Nate Appleman, Jacques Torres, Anita Lo) and even fellow Chopped judges (Geoffrey Zakarian, Aarón Sanchez, Amanda Freitag, Maneet Chauhan).

The chefs will compete in four rounds, tournament-style, and the winner of each will go on to the finale battle on April 3. Before the five-week mini-series kicks off this Sunday at 9pm/8c, we chatted with Alex about what it was like to critique the food of her peers and friends, whether she’d ever throw her own hat in the ring, and the difficulty of Chopped vs. Iron Chef America.

Were these Chopped All-Star battles more intense than “regular” rounds? Or did the chefs come to have fun and play for charity?
Honestly, every episode of Chopped is insanely stressful. When people are colleagues and know each other and then engage in a competition like this, it adds a whole other layer. People are amped up. They want to get along and they also want to win. That really added more complexity and tension, which is cool.

Did you have to judge chefs you know well?
Many. I didn’t enjoy it at all. It’s very painful to factor in. Anyone who competes on Chopped, you end up developing a personal relationship because you go through the whole thing with them. When you add knowing them personally on top of that, it makes decisions much more complicated.

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Chopped All-Stars: Celebrity Chefs Compete for Charity

by in Shows, February 27th, 2011

Chopped All-StarsOn Chopped All-Stars, 16 chefs you know and love are competing to win $50,000 for their favorite charity. Check out which organization each chef is playing for.

Read about the chefs’ charities

Cupcake Wars: Hollywood Glam

by in Shows, February 23rd, 2011
Casey's cupcakes captured the "glitz and glamour" of Hollywood.

Cupcake Wars judge Candace Nelson is the founder and pastry chef of Sprinkles Cupcakes, the world’s first cupcake bakery. She joins us on the FN Dish each week to recap all the sweet details of the competition from her seat at the judges’ table. Here’s what she had to say about last night’s episode, Walk of Fame.

With Hollywood Walk of Fame as this week’s Cupcake Wars theme, I expected to be dazzled by exciting flavors and glamorous displays. And, certainly, Joanne from Lucky Cupcake delivered some excitement in round one with her martini cupcake complete with olive-mascarpone filling! But, in spite of her gutsy choice and dazzling star toppings, she was tripped up by a baking issue that left her cupcake basically inedible. I was sad that I didn’t get to really try what she could do.

Moving on to round two, I was certainly dazzled by Casey’s glitzy plate of cupcakes, including the rice paper “boa,” and Chrissy’s incredibly delicious cupcake trio. Her Elvis “sandwich,” in particular, is one of the best of this variety I have tasted on the show. Celeste disappointed us, though, with her decorations that felt too plain for the occasion.

In the third round, Casey went HUGE with her display and it was the most spectacular I have seen yet on the show. Although the height of the steps on her display meant guests had to bend over to retrieve a cupcake, there was no denying that she captured the “glitz and glamour” of Hollywood. Casey from Casey’s Cupcakes waltzed away with the prize.

Bake up a batch of Casey’s winning Lavender Cupcakes and check out FoodNetwork.com for more about Cupcake Wars, plus dozens of our best cupcake recipes.

Worst Cooks Finale: He Said, She Said

by in Shows, February 21st, 2011

Chefs (and Boot Camp Sergeants) Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine let us in on their candid conversation about the two Worst Cooks finalists, Joshie and Georg.

Anne on Joshie: If you had asked me at the beginning if Joshie was going to win, I would have said no way. But at the same time, I had a little glimmer that this was going to be my Rachel Coleman [last season’s winner]. You know, I really did. I said it on the first day, Robert, when you put him on my team.

He got it together after a while of me being like “Dude, take this seriously.” He came in to do his flambé or something and he’s like “I’m not going to that…” and I’m like “You’re what?” And he’s like “I mean, I AM going to do that.” His girlfriend was like “Wow, how did you get him to do that?” I whipped him into shape. I put the fear of Chef Anne into him. He grew not to irritate me.

I wouldn’t say that Joshie and I are going out to drinks anytime soon, but at the beginning I thought I was going to kill him. He kind of grew on me like a wart. He was not the crowd favorite, the team favorite, or my favorite. That he could transform himself and buckle down and take it seriously, I have to applaud him for that. I think he really wanted it; his eyes were opened up to so many different things. On the first day, when he was making his mess of a dish and brought it up to us, he said “I feel bad because my station was so messy and someone had to come behind me and clean it up.” I thought, that right there is the door opening. That right there, that is my Rachel Coleman. I can probably do something with this kid if he can get out of his own way.

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Worst Cooks Exit Interview: Georg Coleman

by in Shows, February 21st, 2011
Georg Coleman stuck it out all the way to the finale and became a confident cook with stellar knife skills — and she came into Boot Camp afraid of knives!

Why did you need or want to be on Worst Cooks in America?
When I initially found out that I had been nominated by my beloved wife, I did not believe that I needed to be on Worst Cooks in America. After giving a grand attempt at cooking for the audition process, my perception quickly changed. The chefs were eager to point out that processed foods are not of the greatest quality for my family, especially my toddler. They also helped me see that cooking with only myself in mind (my likes/dislikes) might actually be contributing to the tension in my marriage around domestic responsibilities and that my wife might actually have a valid point. I now realize that I still prepare foods and eat like a bachelorette – that I really need some guidance in how to be a better partner and mom when it comes to cooking. I have always liked food prepared on the caramelized (burnt) side – and have set off many a fire alarm to prove it. If I did not get on WCIA, there is a good chance that my marriage would have been doomed.

What was the most valuable tip or piece of advice that you received from Chef Robert?
I learned so many valuable tips and tools from Chef Robert. Three things are most prominent in my mind from my experience on WCIA. One of the most important pieces of advice he gave was how to keep my fingers out of the way when cutting, chopping and preparing foods to cook. I am still not the greatest at this… but have a lot more awareness. A second tidbit of information that was emphasized and reemphasized during the show was ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ regarding keeping our stations clean. However, the most valuable tip I personally received from Chef Robert was to cook with confidence… no matter how it all turns out!

What did you take away from the experience?
I took away so much more from this experience than I ever bargained for. I went into the show thinking that I would learn some great cooking skills from the top chefs on the Food Network, that I would have at least a few days in NYC, and that I would possibly meet some cool people. What I came away with was a new perspective on cooking, my family and life overall. I walked away from WCIA a transformed person in many ways. Being in such intimate circumstances with virtual strangers forced me to bring forth compassion, understanding, tolerance and acceptance in ways I have never known before. I have been married for 5 years… and this was a more intimately challenging situation that lasted a lot less than 5 years. That being said, I developed friendships that will last for a very long time as a result of mutually sharing such a bizarre and awesome experience. I would not be able to adequately articulate what I experienced to anyone who was not there to share it with me. It was the experience of a lifetime and one I am so grateful to have had.

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Worst Cooks Exit Interview: Joshie Berger

by in Shows, February 21st, 2011

36-year-old Joshie Berger of Brooklyn is the Season 2 Worst Cooks in America winner. "It sounds cliche, but this experience was really life-altering," he says.

Why did you need or want to be on Worst Cooks in America?
I really needed to be on Worst Cooks because of my background and personality. I grew up a Hasidic Jew, so I was limited to eating only strictly kosher foods. While the community I grew up in did a reasonable job (considering the limited ingredients available) in presenting edible food, in no way did it prepare me for the range of food options I was presented with when I entered the normal secular world. Additionally, I have a childish palette that prefers chicken fingers and french fries. Combine all this with a healthy dose of A.D.D. and sprinkle in some A.D.H.D. for good measure and you can understand the horror that is me in the kitchen. I would love nothing more than to overcome my idiotic food issues and confront my fears of strange foods. My relationship and social interactions literally depend on it.

What was the most valuable tip or piece of advice that you received from Chef Anne?
The turning point for me in boot camp was when it Chef Anne finally got it through my thick skull that I can have fun in the kitchen without needing to resort to my usual shenanigans. Preparing food and adjusting recipes can incorporate all of a person’s creative energies without the need to be a comedian or clown. Focusing my positive energies on producing restaurant quality meals is a great challenge and the results are a lot more rewarding than the laughs I know I can get elsewhere. Bottom line: if you’re having fun in the kitchen, the food will reflect that.

What did you take away from the experience?
It sounds quite cliche, but this experience was really life-altering. Cooking, and food in general, is such an important part of our lives and having confidence in preparing delicious meals changes you in so many ways. I am an extremely extroverted and social person, and making meals and preparing dinners is something that I love doing routinely. I have very little patience at restaurants and always preferred to eat at home, but ordering in was usually the method employed in the past. Being able to now sit around and entertain and chat while preparing food is a wonderful aspect of hosting. When my girlfriend comes home after a long day’s work, she can rest while watching me cook for her. This is something I cherish and find cathartic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still fun and loud, but it’s a lot more tolerable when I’m producing great results.

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Cupcake Wars: Sweet Cirque du Soleil

by in Shows, February 16th, 2011
This week, the win went to Ron for his "cupcake-rockin', lights-a-blazing, show-stopping, gravity-defying Vegas-style display," says Candace.

Cupcake Wars judge Candace Nelson is the founder and pastry chef of Sprinkles Cupcakes, the world’s first cupcake bakery. She joins us on the FN Dish each week to recap all the sweet details of the competition from her seat at the judges’ table. Here’s what she had to say about last night’s episode, Cirque du Soleil.

It is only fitting that the Cirque du Soleil Cupcake Wars would be a spectacular ride. This was truly a show of “firsts,” starting with the oxtail cupcake in round one. When people ask me about the most unusual cupcake I have come across in Season Two, it’s this one. Not only does Shaunda claim this distinction, but also the additional distinction of being the first contestant to use every ingredient on the challenge table. This round required two ingredients and she used seven. Wow.

Stephanie, who blew us away with a truly artful vanilla bean-ginger, caramelized pear and Thai basil cupcake in round one, got even more ambitious in round two and didn’t finish in time. It was another Cupcake Wars first. The judges weren’t even allowed to try her beautiful cupcakes. She was disqualified for not completing the challenge.

And, finally, in round three, Ron went all out, giving us the first levitating cupcakes we’ve seen on Cupcake Wars. The win goes to him for his all out, cupcake-rockin’, lights-a-blazing, show-stopping, gravity-defying Vegas-style display!

Bake up a batch of Ron’s winning Oatmeal-Raisin Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting and check out FoodNetwork.com for more about Cupcake Wars, plus dozens of our best cupcake recipes.

Worst Cooks, Episode 7: He Said, She Said

by in Shows, February 14th, 2011
Carlos was a little timid with the flame...and with the seasoning on his final dish.

After each elimination on Worst Cooks in America this season, chefs Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine share their candid impressions of the booted recruits with the FN Dish. In the last challenge before the finale, they bid farewell to Kelsey from Robert’s Team and Carlos from Anne’s Team.

Anne on Carlos: This is when their families came! It was a little fire; it boosted them. They were really lonely; it had been a long time. I can’t imagine doing what they did, quite honestly. They completely had a breakdown when they saw their family members. Carlos was really cute; his sister came and he cried. We asked them what do they like to eat, and Carlos’s sister said a Thai dish. I gave him a lob; that’s how easy this dish was. I was begging him the entire time: Show us your personality. Let it come out. This is the time to let it rip. I remember saying that to him so many times. He’s like, “I love spicy food,” and then he made the drippiest, personality-less Thai dish. There was no spice, no big flavors. He was great; his mise en place was always so good; his shrimp was cooked perfectly. I really thought for a while that Carlos was going to be my guy.

Kelsey spent the first half of Boot Camp on Chef Anne's team, but really made progress once she moved over to Chef Robert's team — at least that's what he says!

Robert on Kelsey: I was shocked that Anne sent Carlos home. I thought this was going to be her soldier. Kelsey’s husband came. He was deer hunter guy. He loves to hunt, so she wanted to make him venison. She went from burning everything to serving it raw, still bleeding. And it was such a shame because she knew how to cook it. She did well when she moved over to my team; she turned a corner. The pan wasn’t hot when she seared it; all the things that she had been taught, she didn’t do. That was heartbreaking. She was so afraid of burning everything, so she overcompensated.

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite Worst Cooks recruit in our Fan Vote, up to 10 times per day.

Worst Cooks Exit Interview: Kelsey Milos

by in Shows, February 14th, 2011
The Blue Team race between Kelsey and Georg was neck-and-neck. Last week Kelsey's fish took the win, but this week, too-rare venison was her downfall.

Why did you need or want to be on Worst Cooks in America?
I needed to be on Worst Cooks in America because I just got married and I kept screwing everything up! I tried to cook all the time and the outcome was never good. I have: Given my husband food poisoning twice, once from not cooking the turkey burgers all the way, once from old food; blown up a gas grill and burned off my eyebrows, eyelashes and bangs; tried to make seven different kinds of Christmas cookies and ruined every single one; made chicken for two of my close friends and somehow it came out purple; set a whole pan of bread on fire — I mean actual flames! Despite what my husband says, he can’t cook either. We want kids soon and one of us needs to be able to cook or they will starve!

What was the most valuable tip or piece of advice that you received from Chef Anne or Chef Robert?
The most valuable thing I learned from the chefs is how to dice an onion. Normally when I dice onions I am crying and just trying not to cut off any fingers. It always ends up different sizes and with pieces of the skin in with it too.

What did you take away from the experience?
I have learned so much from this experience. I actually love to cook now! I literally cook three to five nights a week. When I first started this journey, I said my dream is that 10 years from now my husband will have gotten nice and fat and he will say, “I wouldn’t be so fat if Kelsey wasn’t such a good cook!” Just the other day he came out of the bathroom and said he gained 8 pounds which he blames on my cooking. My dream has come true! I feel like we will now be able to start our perfect little family complete with a mom/wife who is a whiz in the kitchen.

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