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WATCH: Food Network Stars Dish on the Scariest Chopped Judge

by in Shows, May 16th, 2013

In front of the judges’ table on Chopped is a scary place for any contestant to be standing, especially when they’re waiting to hear the criticism from the judges. Some judges are kind in their assessments whereas others aren’t afraid to speak the honest truth no matter how blunt it sounds. But which judge is the most intimidating, the scariest?

FN Dish caught up with a bunch of Food Network stars, including Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, Michael Symon, Anne Burrell and the Neelys, as well as the judges themselves, among other famous faces, to ask the question, “Which Chopped judge are you most scared of?” Watch the video above to hear which judge came out on top as the scariest.

Who’s your scariest judge?

Iron Chef Michael Symon Off the Clock

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 16th, 2013

Iron Chef Michael SymonMichael Symon was the first Iron Chef I ever encountered in person. And I am delighted to say that, during the last three years, I have had the opportunity to hear his all-too-famous laugh on many more occasions, both as a co-judge on The Next Iron Chef as well as when I am lucky enough to judge his battles in Kitchen Stadium.

Just before he entered into battle against his fellow Iron Chefs, I took the chance to catch up with one of my favorite Food Network chums and demand answers to the following questions.

You once told me that you feared only “My wife, my mother and God — not necessarily in that order.” But is there any chef that you would hate to come up against in Kitchen Stadium?
MS: Not really. That’s not because I don’t think there are any chefs out there that are better than me, but because I live for competition and the battles in Kitchen Stadium. So win or lose, there is no one I’d be afraid to go up against.

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11 Things You Didn’t Know About Marcus Samuelsson

by in Shows, May 15th, 2013

Marcus SamuelssonYou’ve seen them judge the competition, battle for the title of All-Stars champion and compete in a friendly game with colleagues on After Hours, but there’s a lot you don’t know about the judges of Chopped. Here’s your chance to get to know the nine people behind the Chopping Block.

Marcus Samuelsson is the acclaimed chef behind Red Rooster Harlem, Ginny’s Supper Club, and American Table Cafe and Bar by Marcus Samuelsson. Marcus is the youngest person to ever receive a three-star review from The New York Times. He was also tasked with planning and executing the Obama Administration’s first State dinner. Marcus has won multiple James Beard Foundation Awards, including Best Chef: New York City and most recently in the category of Writing and Literature for his recent memoir, Yes, Chef. But what you may not know about Marcus is that if he didn’t become a chef, he might have become a professional soccer player. Find out more about Marcus in his Q&A below.

Read Marcus’s Q&A

Long-Standing Legacies, Big Breakfast and Traditional Gone Wild on Triple D Tonight

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 13th, 2013

Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins and DivesOn tonight’s all-new episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (10pm/9c), Guy’s digging in to dishes that Mama would make if she had a wild imagination. In Philadelphia a very special guest hits the kitchen with Guy for fried PB&Js, and in Phoenix there’s a farm-to-table spot dishing out dynamite pork sammies and cooking everything from pizzas to pancakes to meatballs in its wood-fired oven.

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 hometown favorites, like in Chatham, N.J., where an Italian joint is baking up fried chicken, arancini balls and the decadent sacred swine sandwich. In Burbank, Calif., join Guy as he visits a family-owned chili-serving spot with a name dating back a century. And in Toronto he’ll stop by a smokehouse kicking burgers and turning a traditional BLT on its head.

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.

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Restaurant Revisited: Drowning in Debt at Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant

by in Shows, May 12th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossiblePerhaps one of the most-persistent restaurant owners ever featured on Restaurant: Impossible, Carolyn Cuneo from Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant in DeFuniak Springs, Fla., admitted to Robert Irvine early on that she is “not very good with change.” After her husband, George, passed away six years ago, she’s been hesitant to make any updates to the eatery, a dark, wood-covered space serving mediocre Italian-inspired food. Carolyn was in thousands of dollars of debt, which Robert realized could be attributed to the large amount of free food she regularly gave away to her staff and customers alike. In just two days and with a $10,000 budget, Robert and his team worked with Carolyn to rethink her management habits and ultimately reopen Mom & Dad’s as a thriving restaurant worthy of a second chance. FN Dish checked in with Carolyn a few months after the renovation to find out how the eatery has been doing.

Immediately following the overhaul, Mom & Dad’s saw a 67.7 percent increase in sales. Although the growth has since slowed a bit, “business is still good and it will be a much higher percentage than prior years,” Carolyn says, adding that she’s making stellar progress on paying back her debt.

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Ted Allen Talks to Fans of Chopped on Facebook

by in Shows, May 11th, 2013

Ted AllenRecently, FN Dish caught up with Ted Allen, the multitalented host of Chopped, for a Facebook chat. Ted answered all kinds of questions about the show, including what the judges are like in person and what the competition is like behind the scenes. Fans also wondered whether Ted ever gets to taste the food and if he’ll ever compete himself.

Read Ted’s chat

What to Watch: Southern Breakfasts, Baby Showers, Cooking With Moms and ICA Tournament

by in Shows, May 10th, 2013

Guy Fieri and momThis weekend on Food Network it’s all about having fun in the kitchen with dear friends and moms.

Start off your Saturday morning with a big breakfast, Southern style, from Paula Deen, Rosanne Cash and her daughter. Afterward, Giada’s hosting a special baby shower for her friend who’s expecting twins. Then on Sunday morning, Guy’s cooking up a meal with his mom; they’re making pork roast with beans and rice, a childhood favorite. And on Sandwich King, Jeff is learning the secrets to baking biscuits from his mother-in-law.

On Sunday evening, watch a poker-themed episode of Cupcake Wars with special guest judge Mimi Rogers. Finally, it’s Round 2 of the ICA tournament as Iron Chefs Jose Garces and Marc Forgione face off in Kitchen Stadium.

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Iron Chef Marc Forgione Off the Clock

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 9th, 2013

Iron Chef Marc ForgioneDuring Season 3 of The Next Iron Chef, I probably gave Chef Forgione more grief than both of the other judges combined did and called him out a number of times for various reasons.

Despite that, he managed to make it all the way to the finale, where his superb take on a Thanksgiving dinner made him my clear winner. Since then, Iron Chef Forgione has gone on to prove himself a very worthy addition to the culinary pantheon.

Here are 10 questions and answers that will hopefully give you more insight into the youngest of their order.

Your father, Larry Forgione, is often called “The Godfather of American Cuisine.” Was coming from a family of such astonishing culinary provenance a help or a hindrance as you climbed the ladder?
MF: A little bit of both. I think it definitely helped open doors for me, but at the same time everything I did was a lot more closely watched. There’s nothing worse than getting yelled at by a chef and then having them say to me, “Do you think your father would be happy with that?”

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Chopped Mystery Basket Weirdest Ingredient Bracket Tournament — Announcing the Winner

by in Shows, May 8th, 2013

Chopped Bracket FinalsSome 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, Chopped fans, in the past four weeks, you’ve been voting in this Bracket Tournament to determine the weirdest mystery basket ingredient ever used in the show’s history. What started out as 16 ingredients was narrowed down to just one. Today, FN Dish is revealing your winner.

Find out which ingredient you voted the weirdest!

Transforming the Familiar — Chopped After Hours

by in Shows, May 7th, 2013

The Chopped judges have seen their share of odd, uncommon ingredients come out of the mystery baskets — haggis, goat brains and shad roe sack, to name a few. But sometimes what trips up the competitors more than any strange products is a selection of ordinary ingredients, like eggs, flour tortillas and apples. If the competitors are judged on their abilities to use the basket ingredients, they’ll have to think beyond omelets, tacos and fruit salads, for example, if they want to avoid the Chopping Block.

On tonight’s all-new episode of Chopped, judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Maneet Chauhan and Marc Murphy welcomed four moms to the kitchen with baskets of familiar ingredients that home cooks would likely use. In the entree round, that meant a spread of mustard greens, pork butt, red quinoa and carrot baby food — products that, while perhaps difficult for these nonprofessional cooks, should have been a cinch to prepare for the chef-judges, who later tried their hands at this very basket.

Alex admitted that, with the exception of the baby food, “It’s like a nice, innocent little basket.” But that didn’t stop her and the rest of the panel from facing some of the same challenges the moms did, like how to make a tough piece of pork tender and how to quickly cook quinoa with limited time. During their friendly face-off, Marc resorted to using a meat grinder to break down the pork and make it into meatballs. Maneet incorporated the meat into a casserole-style dish, and Alex took advantage of almost every second of the competition to fully cook her quinoa.

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