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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.

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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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3 Days to Open: Licari’s

by in Shows, July 27th, 2012

licari's 3 days to open with bobby flay
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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Restaurant Revisited: Zandi’s

by in Shows, July 25th, 2012

Zandi's

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.

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Chopped: Food Network Star Edition

by in Shows, July 22nd, 2012

chopped food network star edition
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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3 Days to Open: Melt Mobile

by in Shows, July 20th, 2012

melt mobile
When Bobby Flay arrived at Diana and Darlene’s Melt Mobile food truck in Stamford, Conn., he wasn’t sure if this venture would ever take to the road — especially since the team had just three days until the opening. These two best friends quit their jobs to pursue this dream, but after mortgaging their homes, they were left with almost no money to open their business with. Before Bobby could consider the task complete, he needed to help the team fix these six crucial issues: organization, food knowledge, wait time, expediting, food quality and packaging.

Bobby left his mission saying that he felt Melt Mobile was “a well-oiled machine.” Is it still running that way? Has Darlene and Diana’s friendship withstood all the stress of opening a business? We checked in with Melt Mobile 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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What to Watch: Chopped Grill Masters This Sunday

by in Shows, July 19th, 2012

ted allenIt’s grill or be grilled when Chopped heads to the Wild, Wild West for its newest special, Chopped Grill Masters. Tune in this Sunday at 10pm/9c to watch the first four competitors battle it out on the grill for a chance at the $50,000 grand prize. These grilling professionals will face not only the dreaded mystery basket of ingredients, but the elements as well, as the competition takes place outside in the harsh Arizona desert.

Watch as host Ted Allen and your favorite judges, Amanda Freitag, Marc Murphy and Aarón Sánchez, don their boots and spurs and head out West for the most heated Chopped showdown yet.

Hone your own skills on the grill by checking out all the great tips and recipes on Food Network’s Grilling Central, then tune in this Sunday, July 22, at 10/9c to catch all the action in the first epic face-off. Who will win and who will be chopped? Contestants, fire up your grills!

Restaurant Revisited: The Main Dish

by in Shows, July 18th, 2012

The Main Dish

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