Valerie Bertinelli is showing viewers how easy it is to prepare modern versions of her family favorites. Starting Saturday, Aug. 8 at 12|11c, the Golden Globe winner, best-selling cookbook author and co-host of Kids Baking Championship invites her closest friends over for mouthwatering meals and, of course, lots of laughs on Valerie’s Home Cooking.
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At his New York City studio, Ron Ben-Israel imagines, creates and designs towering, expertly adorned cakes for all occasions. But on the all-new series Cake Wars, this master pastry chef won’t be in the kitchen, baking against the clock; rather, he’ll be overseeing the contest as a lead judge. Each week it’s up to him, fellow pastry chef Waylynn Lucas and special guests to dole out themed baking challenges that test the competitors’ time management and on-the-spot ingenuity, as well as their baking prowess.
Recently FN Dish caught up with Ron at a special screening of Cake Wars at Manhattan’s International Culinary Center, where he’s an instructor, to chat with the judge about all things to do with sweet competition. From his favorite cake-frosting flavor combination to what he looks for in a well-designed creation, read on below to hear from Ron in an exclusive interview.
What can fans expect from the season? What are you most looking forward to?
Ron Ben-Israel: It’s a new show, actually. Even though it’s similar to Cupcake Wars, it’s bigger and better. You know, cupcakes look nice and cute, but they are small. Even when we talk about cake — four, five, six, seven tiers. In the main challenge, they get four hours to build a cake, and … the themes are so crazy, from The Simpsons to Hello Kitty to Girl Scouts. So we don’t want to see miniature; we want to see over-the-top.
Your cakes take hours — days, even — to make. Could you imagine having to turn out something spectacular in such a short amount of time?
RBI: The hardship is not so much the four hours; it’s not being able to divide the task to a few days, because normally you bake the cake, then you chill [it] and you make the fillings … Here, everything comes together. But the reality is, if you have [the right] state of mind and organize, you can achieve what you want, and that was the hardest thing for me — not being able to go to the kitchens, because everybody has their own set kitchen, and say “Clean up, guys. It’s a mess.”
Things got fishy tonight on an all-new Chopped when Ted Allen announced that the entree basket would contain something known as trash fish, or porgy — a type of fish that used to be a cast-off. That along with olive tapenade, blood oranges and vermicelli (rice) noodles made up the required ingredients, which proved challenging. Amanda Freitag, Marc Murphy and Geoffrey Zakarian took on the basket during a new installment of Chopped After Hours.
Amanda’s plan gets off to a rough start as she tries to deep-fry the rice noodles and realizes they’re not getting crisp. She makes some adjustments to speed up the process. “I cranked this, too, because I know my other chef competitors, they would like to use the fryer as well,” she says. “Look how considerate I am!” Geoffrey is convinced otherwise, asking where she put his pink peppercorns, which are actually on the ledge above his stove.
You know those sleepy summer camps that encourage community, camaraderie and nighttime kumbayas by the fire? This is not that. Led by none other than the master saboteur himself, Alton Brown‘s Camp Cutthroat takes everything you know and love about classic Cutthroat Kitchen — the over-the-top challenges, demanding judges and tight time constraints — and brings it to the great outdoors for a five-part tournament that shines a (hilarious) light on the most-evilicious sides of summer camp.
Premiering Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 9|8c, Camp Cutthroat takes place not in the cozy confines of the traditional Cutthroat arena but outside in the rural woods, which means that the 12 chef contestants will have to contend not only with each other, but also Mother Nature and, of course, the themed sabotages Alton has up his camp-uniform sleeve. From unforeseen wild animals and pesky fellow campers to a murky lake on the grounds, this adventure will test the competitors in downright diabolical ways before ultimately culminating in a finale that crowns one rival the Camp Cutthroat Champion.
You might consider your meat cravings satisfied, because on last night’s episode of Top 5 Restaurants, Food Network traveled from coast to coast to discover America’s best steaks. Hosts Sunny Anderson and Geoffrey Zakarian revealed these juicy, meaty and, in some cases, fatty meats to you in a countdown. Find out below which restaurants made the cut, and read about the succulent steak that topped the list.
For the second time in the show’s history, Chopped headed out of the studio and into the great outdoors for Grill Masters. The cast traded in their dress shoes and city blacks for boots and overalls — well, almost! Production moved the entire crew to Queens County Farm on the outskirts of New York City to tape the special grilling tournament, premiering July 14 at 10|9c. FN Dish caught up with host Ted Allen to chat about the challenges the location posed as well as the challenges the competitors will face.
“We’re a studio show, for the most part, and you forget how easy you have it shooting indoors,” says Ted, referring to the fact that Chopped tapes at Food Network headquarters in New York City, which is a whole lot comfier than roughing it in the Tucson desert like the cast and crew did for the previous Grill Masters season — just think sand everywhere. For Season 2 everything still had to happen outdoors, and even though a more convenient location was chosen, it didn’t mean it would be that much easier — there was still the chance of inclement weather, among other uncontrollable factors.
While all rounds of Cutthroat Kitchen are full of hilarious eviliciousness, tonight’s all-new episode took the funny to another level when Alton Brown, ever the sabotage ringleader, revealed that the entire show was dedicated to clowning around. From a ring-of-fire sabotage to themed eats like corn dogs and funnel cake to judge Simon Majumdar‘s over-the-top clown getup —complete with a round red nose, of course — the name of the game was fun at the circus, though perhaps some of the magic of the spectacle was lost on the four chefs who were dealt challenge upon challenge.
In Round 1’s corn dog assignment, Alton auctioned off a tray of concession-stand goodies that one chef had to use in order to make the dish. Corn dogs may seem simple, as they’re made of just two components — the corn-flavored batter and the hot dog — but with ingredients like candy, popcorn and cotton candy, this corn dog test would prove to be anything but ordinary. That’s where the Cutthroat Kitchen culinary crew comes in.
The key to enjoyable summer entertaining is to keep the party simple, from the ingredients you shop for to the dishes and drinks you serve. On this morning’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, the cast came together to create the ultimate, one-stop guide for seasonal bashes, featuring recipes for crowd-pleasing dips, a bold chicken dinner and, because “it’s five o’clock somewhere,” of course, a fruity cocktail from Geoffrey Zakarian.
Since most summer soirees take place outside, perhaps around the pool or picnic table, keep the appetizer spread easily accessible with a trio of dips. Jeff Mauro’s Strawberry and Mango Guacamole comes together with just a handful of ingredients, letting the fresh fruit complement the spicy jalapeno add-in. For a classic mayonnaise-based option, stick with Geoffrey’s 20-minute Bacon and Egg Dip, a play on classic deviled eggs. In her Roasted Garlic and Frozen Veggie Dip, Sunny Anderson adds the warm flavor of roasted garlic to a cream cheese-laced mixture of processed vegetables for rich results.
When it comes to the main course, chicken is a perennial people-pleaser, and Katie Lee’s all-in-one recipe for Grilled Butterfly BBQ Chicken with Macaroni Salad (pictured above) is a must-try pick. To guarantee bold flavor in the meat, she seasons the chicken with a mixture of chili powder and garlic powder before grilling it until juicy and slathering it in barbecue sauce. The macaroni salad celebrates the traditional flavors of the beloved dish, which includes a tangy, sweet dressing spiked with yellow mustard and a pinch of sugar.
Toast to the warm summer months with Food Network this weekend and get all-new recipes from your favorite chefs. On Saturday, catch up with Trisha Yearwood as she hosts an impromptu get-together for her singer-songwriter friend Sunny Sweeney. She makes delicious finger foods like Roasted Red Pepper Hummus and Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Spicy Slaw. The celebration continues on The Kitchen, where Bobby and Jamie Deen join the cast for fun recipes like Grilled Butterflied BBQ Chicken and Watermelon Margarita with Espelette Salt.
Kick off your Sunday morning with Daphne Brogdon for her backyard summer party, where her menu features Chorizo Sliders with Spicy Avocado Spread and Cool As a Cucumber Soup Shooters. Next, Damaris Phillips throws a fancy white party where she makes Roasted Chicken, Brie and Peach Pizza, White Summer Sangria and Orange Blossom Bundt Cake that she drizzles with a decadent White Chocolate Ganache. On Sunday night, prepare for three hours of competition, starting with Triple G, where Battle America returns to Flavortown. Then, watch as Food Network Star finalists pair up and collaborate on a dish for first-time daters on Match. Finally, it’s a circus-themed episode on Cutthroat Kitchen. Clown cars, a ring of fire and three-wheeling are all fair game for these daring chefs!
For years you’ve watched Giada De Laurentiis make her family’s tried-and-true Italian meals with the most-authentic recipes from where she was born. And now with her all-new series, Giada in Italy, you’ll be able to get an insider’s look at her home country for the ultimate summer vacation adventure.
Premiering Sunday, July 19 at 11a|10c, Giada in Italy will take Giada to Italia for 13 weeks of cooking with the freshest local Italian goods, embracing the beauty of the region, and celebrating with local family and friends. The first stop on the trip is Sorrento, a coastal town in Southern Italy, where Giada sets off to scour for seasonal ingredients, then heads home to put them to work in light, classically Italian dishes.