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Plantains — Iron Chef America Ingredients 101

by in Shows, August 13th, 2012

iron chef america battle plantains
On a recent visit to Jamaica, just about every meal my wife and I sampled came with a side order of beautiful golden plantain strips, shallow-fried and served with a sprinkling of salt and nutmeg. They were the perfect accompaniment to grilled local fish or large plates of tear-inducing jerk chicken, and were so delicious a memory that they have now become a regular staple in the Majumdar pantry.

Watching the Iron Chef and his challenger has definitely given me some new ideas for how to use plantains in my own kitchen, and I hope to persuade those of you who have not yet tried them to give the banana’s less well-known cousin a try yourself.

What are plantains?
Plantains, or “cooking banana” as they are sometimes known, are part of the same family as the banana and are often mistaken for them. However, plantains and bananas differ in a number of important areas, both in how they look and in how they are prepared.

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Coast of Atlanta — Truck-a-Day

by in Shows, August 12th, 2012


We’re just days away from the start of the third season of
The Great Food Truck Race, and to give you a sneak peek at this year’s cast of rookie truckers, we’re introducing one team per day until the season premiere on Sunday, August 19, at 10pm/9c. Check back on FN Dish every day until the first episode to get an insider’s look at each of the teams competing for the keys to their dream food truck.

Three sous chefs looking for a chance to run their own kitchen, Tawanaca Davenport, Lena Price and Mike Jones are the truckers behind Coast of Atlanta. They specialize in top-notch seafood dishes that elevate classic Southern ingredients to the next flavorful level. In order to compete in the race, these Atlanta-based chefs have risked their current jobs and more for the chance to drive away with food-truck success.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the Coast of Atlanta food truck.

Barbie Babes — Truck-a-Day

by in Shows, August 11th, 2012


We’re just days away from the start of the third season of The Great Food Truck Race, and to give you a sneak peek at this year’s cast of rookie truckers, we’re introducing one team per day until the season premiere on Sunday, August 19, at 10pm/9c. Check back on FN Dish every day until the first episode to get an insider’s look at each of the teams competing for the keys to their dream food truck.

Hailing all the way from the Land Down Under, Barbie Babes is made up of Jasmin De Main, Hayley Chapman and Skye Boucaut, native Aussies with a passion for the food of their home country. Now living in Los Angeles, the ladies run a catering company that celebrates authentic Australian barbecue — like grilled snags, sausages and burgers — and features ingredients indigenous to that area. During the race, you’ll be able to spot the Barbie Babes by their can’t-miss safari hats and kangaroo-adorned t-shirts.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the Barbie Babes food truck.

3 Days to Open: Big Guys Sausage Stand

by in Shows, August 10th, 2012

Big Guys Sausage

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.

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Restaurant Revisited: Stella’s

by in Shows, August 8th, 2012

Restaurant Revisited: Stella's

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.

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They’re After Redemption: The Next Iron Chef Season 5 Cast Revealed

by in Shows, August 7th, 2012

next iron chef season 5
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

Hearts of Palm — Iron Chef America Ingredients 101

by in Shows, August 6th, 2012

iron chef america battle tropical
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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3 Days to Open: Cove Lounge

by in Shows, August 3rd, 2012

cove lounge
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.

Click here to watch the video

Restaurant Revisited: Italian Village

by in Shows, August 1st, 2012

Robert Irvine at Italian Village

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.

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Octopus — Iron Chef America Ingredients 101

by in Shows, July 30th, 2012

battle octopus
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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