When Robert Irvine arrived at The Main Dish in Meridianville, Ala., owners Lynn and Ken Tverberg were in desperate need of help. They bought the restaurant five years earlier because Ken loves to cook, but with no restaurant experience at all, the couple found themselves in debt and working 80 hours a week. We checked in with Lynn and Ken a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible makeover to see how the restaurant is faring.
Lynn and Ken have seen a strong increase in sales since Robert’s intervention. “The new menu and decor has brought in old and new customers,” says Lynn. “Some customers don’t like change, and I have made sure that I explain to them that change sometimes is hard but necessary. For every one customer that is not happy, we have three new tables that come in and love the new menu.” Read more »
Bobby Flay is no stranger to opening restaurants. He knows the trials, tribulations and stresses that go into a start-up. He also knows the equation for success and now he wants to pay it forward on his new show, 3 Days to Open. When he arrived at Sticky’s Finger Joint in New York City — just days before it was set to open — it seemed like he was going to be their only chance for survival. With no recipes, decor, knowledge of food or leadership, Bobby set out to help Paul, Jonathan, Tommy and Stephanie open their clever chicken finger restaurant.
Paul, the visionary behind this concept, was undoubtedly all over the place, and his team needed him to organize his thoughts and delegate responsibilities. Nothing is ever that easy, though. With the help of Bobby Flay and some much-needed equipment, the team pulled off an opening better than anyone could have imagined.
But was opening night their closing night? We checked in with Paul at Sticky’s to see how things are going a few months after their visit from Bobby. Click play on the video below for a 3 Days to Open update.
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Melissa d’Arabian is returning this Sunday to Food Network with an all-new season of Ten Dollar Dinners, and her fans are in for a treat. We sat down with the queen of creative, budget-friendly eats to talk about the new season, her first guests and even a couple of little-known facts about herself.
What are you looking forward to the most with this new season?
MD: Ten Dollar Dinners has become sort of an accidental diary of my life. I prepare six months in advance for every season I tape and since I don’t see them until they air, they become a snapshot of my life.
This season was really inspired by my childhood — the time I spent in Tucson, Arizona and San Diego, California Since moving back to San Diego last year, I think it’s reawakened that part of my life. It’s a celebration of my childhood and the memories that were created around food. For example, this season I make homemade tortillas, arroz con pollo and empanadas, which we made all the time when I was growing up. There will always be a part of me on the plate this season.
I can honestly say this season was the most fun to shoot. Even though it was hard work, it was so gratifying.
Little-known facts about Melissa
Just when you thought The Great Food Truck Race couldn’t get any more intense — with host Tyler Florence’s notorious cross-country challenges and its on-the-go dynamics — the series unveils a brand-new element to celebrate its third season.
In the past the show featured teams that were well-established in the food truck community, each with a dedicated customer following and prominent food truck operators experienced in mobile food service. This season’s teams, however, are food truck rookies. Having never worked on or cooked for a food truck, the eight teams are in for a world of surprise as they come to realize just how difficult a business it can be. But what these teams lack in real-world experience they surely make up for in enthusiasm, passion and drive to make it to the finish line.
Read more about the new season
Robert Irvine arrived in Fayetteville, Ga., to help owner Lisa Howard revive Longbranch Steak and Seafood, the restaurant her husband Lindsay gave her two years ago as a wedding gift. Robert and his team raced against the clock to clean up the kitchen, get the staff into shape and give Lisa the confidence and tools to run a successful business. We checked in with the Howards to see how things are going a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible makeover.
“We must admit, it was somewhat of a culture shock to our regulars,” says Lindsay Howard. To help longtime customers adjust, the Howards added back a few of their old favorites alongside Robert’s new menu items, a combination they believe will help them succeed. “We feel confident that we can make our restaurant a place where people want to continue to come and bring others as new patrons,” says Lindsay.
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If I am ever asked to name my favorite cut of beef, my first answer will not be strip steak. I will probably offer up a beautifully marbled bone-in rib-eye as my cow part of preference.
I know that for many people in the United States, however, the strip steak, under its many different names, is the beef cut of choice, particularly when it comes to finding a perfect steak to place on the grill during the summer months.
Having seen the Iron Chef and his competitor turn their attention to strip steak, I am definitely willing to be convinced that I should give this popular cut another try.
What is strip steak?
A strip steak is a cut of beef taken from the short loin of the cow. This is at the top and the middle of the animal, before the rump. The short loin itself comprises two muscles: the tenderloin (from where you get filet mignon) and the top loin, which gives us the strip steak.
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This week on Chef Wanted, star Chef David Burke called in Anne Burrell to help him find a new executive chef for Fromagerie in Rumson, N.J. Among Anne’s four candidates was Phil Deffina, a six-year veteran of David’s restaurants. This was Phil’s chance to prove himself to his boss and mentor and to finally make the jump from sous chef to executive chef. He did just that, serving an ambitious menu and keeping the kitchen under control during his trial night of service. “I knew coming into this that David has high expectations of me,” Phil said. We checked in three months later to see how he’s doing at Fromagerie.
David says his veteran sous chef (from David Burke Kitchen in Manhattan) has proved to be a great fit for Fromagerie: “Phil has fresh insight into cuisine for this community of affluent and discerning tastes.” He says Anne’s influence really helped Phil shine in his interview: “Anne is one of the most talented female chefs in America. Pushing the chefs motivated them to turn up the burners and perform at new levels of creativity.”
The restaurant is improving every day. Phil is working with David on new menu items and several promotions, including burger night on Tuesday, lobster night on Wednesday and steak night with special wine pairings on Thursday. Phil is also running a seafood special, focusing on local Jersey ingredients this summer. “Sales are slightly up from 2011 and we are working to make it an upward trend,” says David.
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At James Beach in Venice, Calif., owners James Evans and Daniel Samakow called in Anne Burrell to find a new executive chef for their modern comfort food spot. Anne brought in four candidates, and after two grueling challenges and exhausting nights of service, James and Daniel extended an offer to Vincent Walker.
Vincent, a three-time cancer survivor, impressed the owners and Anne with his determination and delicious food. “This kid is a fighter,” Anne said. “He’s ready to resume his dream of becoming an executive chef.” Several weeks after the show was filmed, we checked in with the owners to see how Vincent is doing in his new job.
Right after Chef Wanted was filmed, Vincent got married. “We gave him time to wed and leave his prior position,” the owners explain. “He has been meeting with us throughout, but has officially started this week.”
The owners are thrilled that James Beach is having a record year in terms of sales, and they only expect things to get better: “Summer , our busy season, is right around the corner, and with the new chef and the show, we expect it to be off the charts.”
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At Mucho Ultima in Manhattan Beach, Calif., owner Scott Linquist needed a new executive chef to help turn his business into a dining destination. Anne Burrell arrived with four candidates lined up, confident that one would be the right fit for the modern Mexican restaurant. After two tough cooking tests and an intense dinner service, Scott hired Bryon Freeze. We checked in with Scott to see how Chef Bryon and the restaurant are doing.
Six weeks after Bryon joined the team, Mucho Ultima is back on the right track. “We are ecstatic!” says Scott. “Bryon’s energy and passion are exactly what we saw from him during the show.” Scott and Bryon have both worked many long days since the taping and Bryon “comes in here pumped and ready to attack every day and never once has complained about the workload.”
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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.
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