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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

Lights, Camera, Baskets: We Chat With the Round 4 Runner-Up

by in Shows, April 28th, 2013

Chopped All-Stars Round 4: CelebritiesWhat do these four celebrities with different backgrounds have in common? Judy Gold, Johnny Weir, Joey Fatone and Laila Ali all share a love of cooking, and they proved that in the Chopped Kitchen tonight. Only one advanced to compete in the fourth and final spot in the finale, however, and is one step closer to winning $50,000 for his or her charity.

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 runner-up.

SPOILER ALERT: The exclusive interview with the runner-up

Aarón Sánchez Talks to Fans of Chopped All-Stars on Facebook

by in Shows, April 28th, 2013

Aaron judgingEarlier this week, FN Dish caught up with Aarón Sánchez for a Facebook chat about Season 3 of Chopped All-Stars. Aarón answered questions about the current season and what it was like competing in Season 1. He also chatted about some of his favorite foods and gave some tips on cooking the classic Mexican dish of mole.

Read Aarón’s chat with fans

So, What Did You Make? — Chopped After Hours Caption It

by in Shows, April 28th, 2013

Chris Santos, Aaron Sanchez and Marc MurphyWhen it comes to critiquing Chopped competitors’ unusual dishes, the judges aren’t shy about sharing their reactions to the meal; they’re quick to offer opportunities for improvement and suggestions for better offerings. If battles suddenly were to be flipped, however, and the judges faced off with the same mystery baskets as the contestants, would they be able to succeed where others have been chopped?

Last month FN Dish broke the news that for the first time, the judges will be taking over the kitchen in online-only After Hours battles, and on Tuesday, April 30, members of the panel will go head-to-head-to-head with the same ingredients that will be featured on that night’s show. After watching the competition unfold, it will be up to them to take what they’ve learned from the chefs — both successes and missteps — and try their hands at creating plates within the same set of rules and time constraints.

Take a look at the sneak-peek photo above from Tuesday’s judges’ battle. As Chris is concentrating on plating his dish, Aarón and Marc drop by for an early look at what he’s made. Are they there to distract Chris in the final few minutes of cooking, or do you think they’re asking to taste what he’s made? Will the judges prove to competitors everywhere that cooking against the Chopped clock isn’t so difficult after all, or will they struggle like seasons’ worth of competitors have before them?

Write your best caption

Photo Tour: Behind the Scenes of the Chopped Kitchen

by in Shows, April 26th, 2013

Food Network's Chopped KitchenWhen it comes to cooking on Chopped, much is made of each round’s mystery baskets, filled with four unusual and often disparate ingredients that chefs are required to incorporate into their dishes. While these oddball picks are, of course, what add deliciously addictive intrigue and drama to the show, it takes more than just a spread of peanut brittle, Marsala wine, durian and wonton wrappers to outcook the chopping block. If the competitors want to survive three rounds of intense culinary battle, they must utilize next-level appliances and advanced tools, in addition to a myriad of common and eccentric products alike, to transform the basket ingredients and create a winning plate.

To make sure competitors can do that as efficiently as possible within the short amount of time they have to cook, the culinary team that works Chopped has outfitted each chef’s prep station with ready-to-go equipment and stocked the pantry and refrigerator with almost every ingredient imaginable. FN Dish was curious about those supplies and wanted to know what kinds of ingredients are awaiting the chefs in the multiple nooks and crannies of Chopped Kitchen, so we turned to the culinary producer of the show to answer questions and provide an insider’s look at the set. Find out what she had to say below, then get an exclusive look at the kitchen, peek inside the refrigerator and see what’s on pantry shelves by browsing behind-the-scenes photos.

About how many ingredients are stocked in the pantry and refrigerator?
About 70 in fridge and about 200 in pantry

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What to Watch Sunday: Vietnamese and Italian Classics, Tiffani Thiessen on Cupcake Wars, Chopped All-Stars

by in Shows, April 26th, 2013

Tiffani Thiessen Cupcake WarsStart the morning off this Sunday with mouthwatering new episodes of Guy’s Big Bite and Sandwich King. Guy makes a delicious meal of turkey lasagna packed with cheesy goodness and Jeff learns the secrets to making classic Vietnamese sandwiches. In the evening tune in for a special birthday treat on Cupcake Wars as the competitors battle to win the approval of guest judge and birthday girl Tiffani Thiessen. Afterward, in the fourth round of Chopped All-Stars, celebrities Johnny Weir, Joey Fatone, Laila Ali and Judy Gold descend upon the Chopped kitchen to compete for the first time. Last, Robert Irvine must contend with some creepy crawlers in his next restaurant redo.

Read about the shows