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Conversations With Iron Chefs: Bobby Flay Moderates Panel of Peers Before Tournament of Champions

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 4th, 2013

Food Network's Iron ChefsDespite the rivalries and fierce content of the Iron Chef America: Tournament of Champions (Sundays at 9pm/8c) that awaits the Chairman’s Iron Chefs, almost all of Kitchen Stadium’s elite came together at this winter’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival for an informal conversation about what it takes to be an Iron Chef, what privileges and expectations come with the job, as well as their own experiences in rising to their newfound roles. Although he won’t be competing in the series, Bobby Flay was on hand to lead Alex GuarnaschelliGeoffrey ZakarianMarc Forgione and Michael Symon in the hour-long chat, moderating the event and posing questions to both the group and the chefs individually that touched upon their histories in the kitchen, battle records, ingredients of choice and so much more. Masaharu Morimoto, the other original Iron Chef along with Bobby, couldn’t attend the panel, but the group quickly agreed that within their circle, Iron Chef Morimoto is the preeminent master of Kitchen Stadium and that a loss in battle to him is practically a rite of passage. “Everybody has to do it once,” Iron Chef Symon joked.

Although these culinary powerhouses may be all business during competition, there was no shortage of laughs and good-natured joking at this gathering, which took place just steps away from the sandy shores of South Beach, Miami. Read on below to hear from Bobby, and find out what Iron Chefs Guarnaschelli, Zakarian, Forgione and Symon had to say about life before and after they accepted their titles, what it’s like to fall in battle and their winning moments on The Next Iron Chef.

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What to Watch: Mexican Food Madness, Chopped All-Stars Finale and Iron Chef America Tournament Premiere

by in Shows, May 3rd, 2013

All-StarsThis weekend, it’s all about Mexican food and a night of serious competition with the finale of Chopped All-Stars and premiere of Iron Chef America: Tournament of Champions.

Start your Saturday morning with Paula, who’s cooking a feast of sloppy but delicious Tex-Mex inspired recipes with her friend Cheryl. Later in the morning, Giada makes modern interpretations of Mexican dishes. On Sunday morning, Guy’s cooking a south-of-the-border feast. And on Sandwich King, Jeff is making Mexican wraps.

On Sunday evening tune in to all the competition, starting with a new episode of Cupcake Wars, where the bakers compete for a chance to serve their goods at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Then it’s the finale of Chopped All-Stars. Watch to see if Sunny, Gavin, Scott or Laila takes the championship. And last, it’s the premiere of Iron Chef America: Tournament of Champions, in which Iron Chef battles Iron Chef. In this first battle, Geoffrey Zakarian is up against Alex Guarnaschelli.

Read about the shows

Iron Chef Jose Garces Off the Clock

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 2nd, 2013

Iron Chef Jose GarcesThis year gave me my first opportunity to judge Iron Chef Jose Garces in Kitchen Stadium. Although I already knew he has always been held in high regard in the culinary world, it was great to experience, first hand, how he combines his superb technical skills with an ability to make seriously delicious food.

I hope I have many more opportunities to sample his dishes again in the future. In the meantime, I caught up with him for a few moments to ask 10 questions about his culinary background and beliefs.

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Chopped Mystery Basket Weirdest Ingredient Bracket Tournament — Vote in the Finals

by in Shows, May 1st, 2013

Chopped BracketSome of the mystery basket ingredients that get used on Chopped are pretty unusual, to say the least. But the culinary producers who come up with them don’t just draw them out of a hat — though sometimes it does seem that way! They take their time to decide on the ingredients, making sure the basket components are just right and actually manageable. FN Dish queried the culinary producers to find out the top 16 weirdest basket ingredients they’ve had on the show. The list of ingredients ranged from goat brains to gummy eggs over easy — almost no ingredient is off-limits.

Now it’s up to you, Chopped fans, to vote on the ingredient you think is the weirdest of them all in this four-round bracket tournament, which coincides with the new season of Chopped All-Stars.

VOTE now!

Catching Up With Ted Allen, Host of the 2013 James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards

by in Events, Shows, May 1st, 2013

Ted AllenOn Friday, May 3, the James Beard Foundation will have its annual Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards. And this year, Food Network’s own Ted Allen has the honor of hosting the event, one of the biggest in the culinary world. Ted isn’t a stranger to the awards — last year he was the winner for best Media Personality/Host for Chopped, beating out Ina Garten and Sara Moulton. Chopped also won for best Television Program in a Studio or Fixed Location. With all his experience hosting, the JBF awards should be a piece of cake for Ted. But does he have anything to fear?

We caught up with Ted to chat about his hosting responsibilities, his view on the awards ceremony and what he thinks is the next big thing to look out for in the food world.

Read Ted’s interview below

How Much of a Basket Ingredient Is Enough? — Chopped After Hours

by in Shows, April 30th, 2013

“Use a little or a lot; I heard Ted say it before,” Marc Murphy told substitute host Alex Guarnaschelli during tonight’s premiere episode of Chopped After Hours. He and his competitors, fellow judges Aarón Sánchez and Chris Santos, opted to use only one portion of what was unquestionably the out-of-place ingredient in tonight’s mystery basket: coconut-chocolate bars. With just 30 minutes to cook an entree with the candy, plus pink beans, sofrito and striped bass, the guys didn’t have time to incorporate the bar as a whole, so they picked out of it elements that would be successful in their dishes. For Marc, who in a risky maneuver set off to make a cassoulet, and Chris, who prepared a Thai-style soup, it was the coconut center that was the chosen fraction; Aarón picked out the almonds to feature in his Louisiana-inspired plate of fish and grits.

What do you think of the judges using only a select portion of a mystery basket ingredient? Although doing so may indeed be battling within the rules, should they have worked harder to utilize the candy bar as a whole, or does its unusualness make up for the fact that it wasn’t incorporated fully? If a contestant had done that during competition, would the judges have been as accepting of his or her dish?

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A World of Flavors, Something Different, and Chicken, Chili and Chowder on Triple D Tonight

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 29th, 2013

Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins and DivesOn tonight’s all-new episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (10pm/9c), Guy’s hitting the road in search of classic comfort foods across the country. His first stop is The Stockyards: Smokehouse & Larder in Toronto, where he’ll sample the ultimate indulgent burger and a next-level BLT. Later he’s off to Burbank, Calif., for real-deal chili at Chili John’s before he heads back east. In Philadelphia, he’s visiting Sidecar Bar & Grille, known as much for its french fries as its nontraditional clam chowder filled with a secret ingredient: gnocchi.

Before you tune in to tonight’s premiere, don’t miss Guy in a marathon of some of your favorite Triple D episodes. He’ll be stopping by Phoenix’s Chino Bandido, an eclectic hot spot combining Chinese and Caribbean fare in almost 100,000 different dishes, then setting off to find restaurants from coast to coast that refuse to stick to the norm. In Lesage, W.Va., he visits a hot dog stand serving customers in reclaimed school buses. In Miami, Fla., he’s digging into the French-inspired escargot at Scully’s Tavern, a local a dive bar.

Take the trip with him starting at 6pm/5c — follow along and bookmark the restaurants as he goes, and try your hand at the recipes.

From north and south to east and west, Guy’s been everywhere. Next time you’re traveling, download the On the Road app or check out this map to find all of Guy’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives destinations.

Go behind the scenes with Guy

Vacuum-Sealed Chicken, Matzo Pancakes and Passion Fruit, Three Ways — Rebel Remix

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 29th, 2013

Chopped All-Stars Round 4 Entree Basket
Every week, Justin Warner, winner of Food Network Star Season 8, is back remixing the Chopped All-Stars baskets as seen in the episode Sunday night in pure Justin Warner style: edgy, intense, passionate and full of wit. If you’ve ever watched an episode and found yourself yelling at the TV, “I would have made this and that instead!” then these are the posts for you.

by Justin Warner

Welcome to the fourth installment of the Chopped All-Stars Rebel Remix, wherein I attempt to give you drilling rights on my brain as I attempt to assemble an array of exciting edibles from four seemingly incongruous ingredients.

Appetizer: vanilla cupcakes, chicken tenders, avocados, kochujang
I’ve been doing this “write about Chopped” thing for a little bit now, and this basket is just too freaking insane. Cupcakes? Really? Before assembling these ingredients, I would look around: I want to know which contender offended the Basket Curators in a previous life. This is a bad, bad basket. Personally, I also abhor chicken tenders. They are too perfect, too cookie cutter. Meat should have personality and character! I digress. Kochujang, or gochujang, is a Korean pepper paste. It’s got earth and funk and a little heat. I’ve seen a few Korean grandmas dilute it with lemon-lime soda, and in my restaurant I use it to glaze frog’s legs. Avocados are no biggie. What isn’t good with a slice of avocado? This leaves the cupcakes. Why?! It’s like someone is trying to cause grief and pain. At least they are vanilla, which is a great flavor with chicken. Before you get bent out of shape, consider that bourbon chicken sounds delish and that bourbon often contains vanillin, which is the chemical compound for which vanilla was named, so vanilla and chicken are best buds. Capish?

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Restaurant Revisited: Creepy in Clearwater at Smitty’s Restaurant

by in Shows, April 28th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWhile there were indeed substantial problems with the food as well as the interior design at Smitty’s Restaurant in Clearwater, Fla., the gravest issue came in the form of bugs — an entire infestation of cockroaches, in fact. Overrun with these crawly creatures, husband-and-wife owners Gus and Evi Gialelis’ business faced certain closure if Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team couldn’t locate the source of the swarm. But to do so they’d have to rely on a professional exterminator, something that would significantly drain the overall renovation budget.

“I have never come across a restaurant this bad in my whole career,” Robert told Gus and Evi, who felt personally defeated in the wake of their struggling business. He initially questioned whether “this may be the one restaurant that’s too far gone,” but Robert’s not one to walk away from a mission, of course. And in just two days, he reopened the doors at Smitty’s to a welcoming, clean restaurant that was dishing out quality food. FN Dish checked in with Evi a few weeks after the reopening to find out how the restaurant is doing today.

Smitty’s has seen an increase in business since the show taped, and Evi says she’s noticing many first-time customers at the restaurant.

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One-on-One With the Chopped All-Stars Round 4 Winner

by in Shows, April 28th, 2013

Chopped All-Stars Round 4: CelebritiesEarlier on FN Dish, we broke down the second round of All-Stars, including an interview with the runner-up (spoiler alert).

If you missed the show and recorded it, don’t read any further — FN Dish is about to break down the episode and chat with the winner.

SPOILER ALERT: Find out who won