This Thursday night on Food Network (10pm/9c), Anne Burrell will be putting her mentor hat back on as she helps top restaurants find an executive chef — the critical employee who can make or break a restaurant — on Chef Wanted. Each week, Anne Burrell will put four candidates through the toughest job interview of their lives, testing everything from their culinary mettle to business acumen. It all ends with the biggest test of all: running the restaurant.
We recently chatted with Anne about being a mentor: identifying red flags on resumes, the hard questions she has to ask and even her own toughest job interview.
What is the best question to ask a potential candidate?
AB: There are a few questions I always ask. The first really important question is why do you want this job? This is to see if they’re looking for any job or if they’re actually interested in this particular job. Second, why did you get into cooking? I want to find out if this is their passion or just a job to them.
You’ve seen Chopped, Chopped Champions and Chopped All-Stars. Now, Chopped is traveling to the Arizona desert for a special five-part themed series: Grill Masters, which premieres Sunday, July 22, at 10pm ET/PT. Over the course of five weeks of dry desert heat, 16 grilling professionals from around the country face off in this captivating Wild West showdown. The stage is set for the ultimate culinary feud with Chopped favorites Amanda Freitag, Marc Murphy and Aarón Sánchez at the judging table, and astonishing mystery ingredients and tremendously talented competitors. One chef from each preceding duel makes it to the final fiery face-off, and when the dust clears, the greatest grilling pro of all will walk away with a $50,000 grand prize.
Grill Masters: Part 1 – Sunday, July 22, at 10pm ET/PT
Fire up the grills, y’all! In this first-of-its-kind Chopped grilling tournament, the competition heads west for a fierce, five-part showdown for a $50,000 grand prize.
Competitors: Ray Lampe (Florida), Jennifer Duncan (Arizona), Tom Duncan (Arizona), Galen Zamarra (New York City)
We often refer to Pat LaFrieda, Jr. as the “Magician of Meat,” but we seem to forget that Pat LaFrieda, Jr. comes from a meat empire — a family-run meat empire. Pat Jr. runs a third-generation wholesale meat purveyor business in New Jersey with his dad, Pat Sr., and while we see the dynamic duo take viewers on a high-”steaks” ride with a side of humor on Meat Men, we wanted to know just how much the two agreed on meat.
We asked father and son the same questions to see how different (or similar) their answers would be, including who’s the better grill master in the family.
What’s the best cut of pork in your opinion?
Pat Jr.: Pork butt
Pat Sr.: Rib chops
If you had to choose between having beef, pork, veal or chicken as your last meal what would you pick?
Pat Jr.: Boneless loin lamb chops
Pat Sr.: Shake ‘N Bake pork chops with applesauce (laughing out loud) — because they’re good.
In a special episode of Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine faced his toughest challenge yet when First Lady Michelle Obama assigned him the task of rebuilding Horton’s Kids, a children’s community center that provides many services such as serving after-school meals in one of Washington, D.C.’s neediest neighborhoods. Mrs. Obama gave Robert three missions: Give Horton’s Kids a dining room, update their kitchen and create a community garden for them.
A few months after Robert’s Restaurant: Impossible-style transformation of Horton’s Kids, we checked in with Executive Director Brenda Chamberlain to see how the organization is doing. “Everyone loves and is impressed with the new, transformed Horton’s Kids!” says Brenda. “The vibrant space establishes a sense of community for the children.”
If you were to enter any fish and chip shop in North England and request anything but haddock for your deep-fried delight, the servers would look at you as if you were an alien from outer space.
I would have to agree that this beautifully firm and flaky white-fish makes the absolute best fish and chips you will ever eat. But, haddock is so much more versatile than just being deep-fried and, as I hope you discovered from watching the Iron Chef and his challenger on “Battle Haddock,” it makes a delicious and sustainable alternative to cod.
What is haddock?
Haddock is a firm-fleshed white-fish that can be found in both the European and North American waters of the North Atlantic. The adult fish can grow to around 3.6 feet in length and migrates each year from shallow waters in the summer to colder, deeper waters in the winter.
Overfishing meant that haddock stocks became severely depleted in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Fortunately, this fish reproduces very rapidly, with the female of the species laying an astonishing 3 million eggs a year. This fact, added to strict fishing quotas and more sustainable forms of fishing, means that haddock is now off the danger list and ready for your table.
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.
On the latest episode of Restaurant: Impossible, Robert headed to Memphis to help Pollard’s, a barbecue restaurant that was at risk of going up in smoke. The eatery was experiencing growing pains after upgrading from a takeout operation to a giant dine-in establishment. We checked in with owners Tarrance and Torria Pollard to see how business is going after their Restaurant: Impossible intervention.
A few months after Robert’s Restaurant: Impossible makeover, sales at Pollard’s Bar-B-Que have grown an impressive 20 percent.
On a recent visit to Budapest, the capital of Hungary, I was lucky enough to enjoy a terrific meal at a restaurant called Bock Bisztro, which served many dishes made from Mangalitsa pork. Although I had eaten the meat of this particular breed of pig before and knew just how delicious and fully flavored it could be, this was the first time I noticed how incredibly versatile it is. The meal easily rates as one of my best in recent years.
I hope that watching the Iron Chef’s work with this magnificent beast in Kitchen Stadium will inspire you to go in search of this alternative to traditional pork breeds, either in the restaurants of some of the nation’s top chefs or in your own kitchens.
You won’t regret it.
What is a Mangalitsa pig?
Mangalitsa pigs, or as they are known in their native Hungary, Mangalica pigs, are a breed of hog that is renowned for their deeply flavored meat and for their high fat content. The name Mangalica literally means “hog with a lot of lard.” They are sometimes also known as “wooly pigs” because of the curly haired fleece that covers their body.
The famed Secret Ingredient: It’s destroyed some chefs while others have succeeded in Kitchen Stadium. In past years, we’ve seen the Chairman unveil everything from eggs, canned tuna, kale and mozzarella to cowboy rib-eyes, seaweed, whole pigs and sea whistle. From everyday ingredients to hard-to-find cuts of meat and fish, the culinary wizards of Food Network can find just about anything.
Have you ever wanted a say in the Secret Ingredient? Now’s your chance.
Instructions: Vote once a day until next Tuesday for your favorite Secret Ingredient in our poll below. Then stay tuned to an upcoming episode to see if your ingredient was chosen.
At the University Grill in Burlington, N.C., Robert Irvine faced three co-owners who refused to get along. Siblings Eleni, George and Manny opened the restaurant five years ago to help provide for their retired parents, but they were facing failure when Restaurant: Impossible came along to help. We checked in with the siblings after their restaurant’s makeover to see how business is going.
A few months after Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team arrived on the scene, sales at the University Grill are up 15 percent. “Everyone loves the new decor,” says Eleni.