In suburban Chicago, Brendan O’Connor and three of his best friends desperately needed Bobby Flay’s help to make their restaurant dreams come true at Big Guys Sausage Stand. With just three days until the grand opening, Bobby tackled clashing personalities, unimaginative toppings and a depressing interior to help the guys create a sausage spot that impressed even the toughest of critics: Chicago’s Sandwich King, Jeff Mauro.
But what happened when Bobby headed home, leaving the guys to fend for themselves? We checked in with Brendan to see how Big Guys is doing a few months after Bobby’s intervention.
Brendan is happy to report that Big Guys is off to a great start: They are averaging $1,500 per day in sales and their numbers are growing daily thanks to neighborhood buzz, good local press and many repeat customers.
In Stratford, Conn., Michael Savoie and his mother Cami needed Robert’s help to keep their 15-year-old Italian restaurant, Stella’s, alive. Despite working exhausting 90-hour weeks, Michael was clueless about food costs and lacked the leadership skills to effectively manage his staff. From management to decor, Robert and his team gave Stella’s a complete overhaul. We checked in with the Savoies a few months later to see how business is going.
In the months following their Restaurant: Impossible intervention, sales at Stella’s are up 20 percent.
Michael is letting his mother have access to the business financials. He now has a better grip on how to manage food costs. As the new general manager of Stella’s, Cami is also handling the catering side of the business and helping to keep costs down.
Redemption: That’s what the newest season of The Next Iron Chef is all about. You’ll see 10 familiar chefs battling it out again, proving they’ve got the skills to win the ultimate prize: the title of Iron Chef. Watch week after week as Alton Brown returns to host this series through an array of challenges that takes the contestants through Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Putting their reputations on the line one more time for a chance to join the ranks of chefs including Bobby Flay, Marc Forgione, Jose Garces, Masaharu Morimoto, Michael Symon and Geoffrey Zakarian in Kitchen Stadium are:
- Nate Appleman, Amanda Freitag, Eric Greenspan and Jehangir Mehta from The Next Iron Chef Season Two
- Elizabeth Falkner, Alex Guarnaschelli and Spike Mendelsohn from the cast of The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs
- First-time Next Iron Chef competitors Tim Love and Marcel Vigneron
Find out who the tenth slot will go to
In this week’s Kitchen Stadium battle, the Chairman provided not one but a whole cornucopia of ingredients. He challenged the Iron Chef and his challenger to create an inspired tropical meal.
Some of the ingredients on the altar, such as coconuts, pineapples, mangos and green papaya are reasonably well known to regular viewers of Food Network. So, with your permission, I am going to put those to one side and concentrate on one ingredient with which people might not be quite so familiar: hearts of palm.
What are hearts of palm?
Hearts of palm are a crunchy and slightly sweet vegetable similar in taste to an artichoke heart. They are the bud or inner core taken from a range of palm trees including coconut, acai, jucara and pejibayes. They are also known by a number of other names including palmitos and palm hearts. In Florida, they were once known as swamp cabbage and are harvested from the Sabal or “cabbage” palmetto tree, which is the official tree of the Sunshine State.
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Bobby Flay brought in the big guns not once but twice this episode as he took on his next project: Cove Lounge in Harlem, New York. With just three days to open, Alyah and Gloria found themselves knee-deep in bills, as well as dealing with a series of staffing and kitchen issues in their quest to open an upscale lounge. Bobby relied on the legends of Harlem’s food industry and Nina and Tim Zagat to help guide Alyah with constructive criticism. The ladies picked the perfect neighborhood for their venture, but that was only a small part of it.
Before Bobby could consider the task complete, he needed to help the Cove team fix these four crucial issues: staffing, menu, food quality and cocktails.
The signature cocktail, “The Cove,” has been created, and the French fries seem to be perfect. Alyah waited three years for this dream to come true, but did it all work out? One lesson we’re sure she learned was to proofread everything. We checked in with her and Gloria to see how things are going after their visit from Bobby. Click play on the video below for a 3 Days to Open update.
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At Italian Village in Milmont Park, Pa., Rob Mellon Sr. and his son Rob Jr. desperately needed Robert Irvine’s help to return their 30-year-old restaurant to its early glory days. It was a big job: Robert and his team not only had to overhaul the menu and dark interior, but also remedy long-standing issues between father and son that were hurting the business. We checked in with the owners a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible intervention to see how the restaurant is faring.
Since Robert and Restaurant: Impossible visited, sales at Italian Village are up 18%.
The owners took Robert’s advice and reduced the number of menu items to about 30. Robert’s recipe for Drunken Penne remains on the menu and is a big hit: “Almost every night, somebody orders it,” says Rob Sr.
One of the greatest food memories of my travels around the globe has to be an early-morning visit to the legendary Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. While dodging the porters and fishermen, I saw hundreds of varieties of fish and seafood being auctioned off for sale all over Japan.
Amongst all the amazing noises, sights and smells of the market, my eyes were drawn to a number of huge glass tanks containing live octopi, many of whom were attempting to escape by climbing over the sides using the suckers on their tentacles. Unfortunately for them they were soon recaptured and dispatched off to feed hungry locals and tourists including myself.
Watching the Iron Chef and his challenger battle with this eight-legged beast this week really reminded me of my experiences in Japan and I hope it inspires you to try preparing octopus in your own kitchen.
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When Bobby Flay arrived at Gionni’s dream restaurant, Licari’s in Grand Rapids, Mich., just three days before the opening, he was almost positive they weren’t going to make it. Along with his wife, Lisa, co-owner of the restaurant, they invested everything — their house, sanity and marriage — but they were in the red, owing money to contractors and vendors, all while emptying their retirement fund and borrowing money from their parents.
Before Bobby could consider the task complete, he needed to help the husband and wife team fix these four crucial issues: Lisa’s unestablished role, poor food quality, a disorganized kitchen and unleashing the secret recipes from Gionni’s mom.
On opening day, Gionni said “he closed a chapter, but opened a new one.” Are things still running smoothly? How are Gionni and Lisa handling their new venture together as a couple? We checked in with Licari’s six weeks later to see how things are going after their visit from Bobby. Click play on the video below for a 3 Days to Open update.
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At Zandi’s in Millersville, Md., sisters and co-owners Evette Aponte and Yvonne Zandi were just a few months from closing down when Robert Irvine showed up. He was discouraged to find not only lackluster food, poor service and tired decor, but a lack of passion on the part of the owners. A few months after their emotional Restaurant: Impossible makeover, we checked in with Evette and Yvonne to see how business is going.
Since Robert’s Restaurant: Impossible intervention, sales at Zandi’s are up 39%. They’ve gone from roughly 30 customers per day up to 70. Evette and Yvonne are slowly catching up on their debt and will soon be able to start paying their mother back.
Before tuning into the much-anticipated finale of Food Network Star tonight at 9/8c to find out which contestant — Ivan, Michele, Martie or Justin — will finally have their culinary dreams realized, watch a special episode of Chopped airing at 8/7c. Watch as past FN Star winners Jeff Mauro, Melissa d’Arabian, Aarti Sequeira and Amy Finley face the dreaded chopping block, judged by this year’s Star mentors Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis and Alton Brown. With unusual ingredients, you can certainly expect the unexpected from this showdown.
While Aarti has competed on Chopped once before, this will be Melissa’s and Jeff’s first time each on the show. “Food Network Star was still pretty fresh in my mind and I was anxious about doing another food competition,” Jeff says of being a contestant on Chopped. Jeff and Melissa both agree their first experience on the show was extremely stressful. “No matter who you’re up against in the Chopped kitchen, chances are you’re most likely battling yourself,” Jeff says. “We had a ton of fun and laughs during the process, though!” Aarti says that being on Chopped once before helped shape her mentality going into the show the second time around: “The last time I competed on Chopped, frankly I was so terrified of the whole thing that I couldn’t focus! This time, I decided to leave my ego at the door.”
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