All summer long, you’ve voted for your favorite Food Network Star winners or Chopped judges in head-to-head matchups of their best grill-out dishes. Week after week, it was a tight race, and with the start of September just around the corner, it’s finally time to reveal the Summer Showdown winner …
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America’s middle may be known for its lush green pastures and rolling hills, but it’s also home to some of the most comforting and creative food in the country, thanks to its focus on farming and rural, rustic living. On her all-new upcoming series, Heartland Table (Saturday, Sept. 14 at 10:30am/9:30c), Amy Thielen, a born-and-raised Minnesotan, is on a mission to introduce her Midwest to viewers through her signature takes on the classic dishes of the area.
Amy is a chef and a former restaurant cook who enjoyed a stint in some of New York City’s most revered eateries, but after years in the Big Apple, she moved home to Minnesota with her husband to raise their family. On Heartland Table, she’ll showcase some of her region’s most comforting and authentic dishes using only the freshest goods available, like straight-from-the-garden greens, locally sourced eggs and meat, and neighborhood produce. Now a cookbook author and blogger, Amy knows what it takes to turn out the hearty, family-focused food for which the heartland is famous, and she’ll show audiences how deliciously simple it is to make these meals in their homes, no matter which part of the country they’re in.
The latest stop on The Great Food Truck Race took the seven remaining teams to Portland, Ore., where city restrictions and an exotic cooking challenge awaited them. One of the stipulations was that the teams had to sell on private property, forcing most to make partnerships with local Portland businesses, such as bakeries, bars, restaurants and cafes. Two teams, Tikka Tikka Taco and Boardwalk Breakfast Empire, parked in Cartlandia and A La Carts Food Pavilion, two popular food cart pods that feature some of the city’s best mobile eateries. With all these options, it’s easy to see that Portland is a foodie’s paradise and the bustling restaurant scene is one that’s worth exploring. FN Dish has highlighted some terrific options from Food Network’s On the Road guide to Portland. Check them out below.
On last week’s After-Show, judge Simon Majumdar said: “Being a great chef is one thing. Being a strategic chef is another. If you can combine those, you can actually end up winning Cutthroat Kitchen without being technically the best chef.” And tonight Alton may have proved that theory to be true when he told Simon the lengths to which one competitor went to claim the win.
The name of the game in Cutthroat Kitchen is indeed sabotage, but with that comes personal advantages for the competitor dealing those devastating blows to his or her rivals. With every big-ticket disruption one chef purchases and assigns to another contestant, he’s essentially buying himself safety from that challenge. Alton told Simon that, in this week’s final auction, one chef — who would ultimately go on to win the battle — spent almost all of his or her money ensuring his or her own smooth finish by assigning someone else the challenge of making crab cakes without a binder, like mayonnaise. This person “bought victory,” Simon said of the outcome, chalking up this reality to the fact that “anything is possible in Cutthroat Kitchen.”
The seven remaining teams had a wet start in Portland on Episode 2 of The Great Food Truck Race. With little foot traffic, sales were slow, and each team was stuck with its chosen location because of Portland’s street vendor regulations. Boardwalk Breakfast Empire and Tikka Tikka Taco chose to set up residence at local food cart pods, whereas the other teams partnered with local business, but neither location was more advantageous than the other. Besides that, a set of surprises from Tyler made for an even more challenging weekend. But one team that was headed for success suddenly took a turn for the worse.
Facing nearly a quarter of a million dollars in debt, Tony Aponte looked to Robert Irvine and the Restaurant: Impossible team to give his Mason, Ohio, business, Aponte’s Pizzeria, a second chance at success. Tony had been working in pizzerias since he was 11 years old and purchased Aponte’s just eight years ago. But during that time, he hadn’t made a single change to the menu. “I grew up on it, and I stick by it,” Tony said of his food. Ultimately, it was this menu that Robert deemed to be the root of Aponte’s downfall. “There’s just no taste to anything,” Robert said simply, noting that the dingy decor and difficult-to-navigate entrance didn’t improve the overall dining experience. With only two days and a $10,000 budget, Robert got to work on breaking down the self-described “bull-headed” Tony and transforming Aponte’s into a thriving pizzeria once again. FN Dish caught up with Tony a few months after his business reopened to find out how it’s doing today.
After a rocky start, Tony is adjusting to the changes at Aponte’s. Robert’s improvements have boosted the restaurant’s bottom line, with a 60 percent increase in sales at the end of June.
For years Bobby Flay traveled across the country battling professional chefs and home cook enthusiasts alike in throwdowns, but in his all-new special, Beat Bobby Flay, he’s upping the ante and challenging culinary powerhouses to face off against him on his own turf, right in New York City. The concept is simple: One chef will have the opportunity to go head-to-head with the famed Iron Chef, but only after he or she bests a competitor. Two of Bobby’s peers — Jeff Mauro and Alex Guarnaschelli — will be on hand to determine which hopeful proves himself or herself worthy of a contest with Bobby by successfully outcooking the opponent using a secret ingredient. The winner will have ultimately earned the right to meet Bobby in battle — and will surprise him with the signature dish they both must cook.
In this 30-minute episode airing tomorrow, Saturday, August 24 at 9pm/8c, a Los Angeles- and a Chicago-based chef will travel to the Big Apple for their chance to beat Bobby Flay. They’ll throw down in an audience-packed arena, but just one will have the culinary chops needed to stand up against a Kitchen Stadium great. Be sure to tune in to find out who makes it to the final round of competition and see whether Bobby Flay ends up being beaten at his own game.
On tonight’s episode of Chef Wanted, Tavern 1757 in Seymour, Conn., needed a new executive chef after losing its former chef. The restaurant features country-style Italian cuisine anchored by a brick oven. The owners, Tony Mavuli and his son Tonino, were looking for a chef who could showcase the vision of the restaurant. Anne Burrell brought in four candidates: chefs Brian Reilly, Kelli Daniels, Tommy Valdes and Ryan Escude. Two initial tests would narrow down the chefs to two finalists, who would each get to run the restaurant’s dinner service on separate nights. In the end the decision for the Mavulis would be difficult since both chefs offered great flavors.
To celebrate Season 4 of The Great Food Truck Race, which airs Sundays at 9pm/8c, FN Dish is giving away five copies of host Tyler Florence’s cookbook Tyler Florence Fresh to randomly selected winners.
You can buy Tyler Florence Fresh from the Food Network Store, or enter below for a chance to win the item. To enter: Tell us in the comments which Food Truck team you want to win. The contest starts at 3pm EST today and ends Thursday, Aug. 29, at 3pm EST.
This past Sunday on The Great Food Truck Race, the eight new food truck teams rolled into Hollywood and began the first leg of the cross-country journey. Day one had them selling in Beverly Hills, Calif., and day two took them to the city by the Bay, San Francisco, where they had competition from local food truck businesses. In both cities, Philly’s Finest Sambonis racked up the most sales, winning the weekend. Unfortunately, Murphy’s Spud Truck was beset with issues that put them in the bottom and got them sent home early.
Even without ever selling from food trucks before, the teams proved they could stand among some of the best mobile businesses in the city. And that’s a pretty big accomplishment since the Golden State has some of the best and most popular food trucks in the country. We’ve got a road trip planned for you: From San Diego to San Francisco, you’ll find some great mobile eats on the West Coast.