A New Crop of Chefs

by in View All Posts, April 7th, 2011
Best New Chefs Awards (photo by Arthur Bovino)

Our friends at Food & Wine Magazine just revealed their annual list of the country’s Best New Chefs. We’re always on the lookout for impressive up-and-comers in the food world, so we attended the announcement celebration and talked to several of the honorees. Should we expect to see some of them as future competitors on Iron Chef? It certainly seems possible.

We asked each of the winners we interviewed to choose a favorite ingredient and one chef who has been a major career influence.

Chef Bryce Gilmore
Barley Swine, Austin

Most influential ingredient: eggs from a local farmer
How he uses it: smoked trout pasta with scrambled eggs and Granny Smith apples
Most influential chef: Dan Barber

Chef Jamie Bissonnette, People’s Choice winner
Restaurant Coppa, Boston

Most influential ingredient: ramps
How he uses it: ramp paella with snails and rabbit, chard and ramp chimichurri, ramp pasta
Most influential chef: Jacques Pépin

Chef Jason Franey
Canlis, Seattle

Most influential ingredient: lettuce
How he uses it: a salad of mixed greens and up to 40 ingredients, including asparagus and salted, fried pea skins
Most influential chef: Daniel Humm

Chef Ricardo Zarate
Mo-Chica, Los Angeles

Most influential ingredient: ají amarillo (a South American yellow chili)
How he uses it: ají de gallina, a spicy chicken dish recommended by Giada De Laurentiis on The Best Thing I Ever Ate
Most influential chef: Mark Gregory

Chefs Viet Pham and Bowman Brown
Forage, Salt Lake City

Pham
Most influential ingredient: seafood of all kinds
How he uses it: “There are just a million ways to cook it.”
Most influential chef: Laurent Gras

Brown
Most influential ingredient: wild herbs and greens, watercress
How he uses it: a visually striking seasonal salad called “Vegetable Garden”
Most influential chef: René Redzepi

Congratulations to all of the 2011 Best New Chefs. To discover more trendsetters, visit our Chefs of Tomorrow feature. To find restaurants featured on Food Network in your area or around the country, check out the new FN Local.

Side Dish: More Food on the Web

by in View All Posts, April 5th, 2011
How does your garden grow? (Note: garden pictured is not in New York City)

NYC’s Homesteaders Live Off the Land…The land in their own backyards and on their own rooftops. The Post takes a look at hardcore urban farmers, who raise chickens and bees, butcher their own rabbits and forage for greens in New York City parks. The trend isn’t without its backlash, but these hillbillies have one up on the non-farming population, says Brooklyn’s Brandon Hoy, who co-owns a restaurant that grows its own produce: “We’re set up for the zombie invasion.” [nypost.com]

Study Supports Possibility of Food Addiction: Food-a-holics may rejoice at the findings from a recent Yale study, which suggests that food addiction might be a real-life neural affliction (as opposed to just an excuse to eat a few more cupcakes). “Scientists watched the brain activity of women tantalized, and then rewarded, with a chocolate milkshake. Their neural activity was similar to that of drug addicts.” [latimes.com]

Really Important New Food Gadget Introduced: There are classic food marriages (peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies, ham and cheese) and then there are the orange-juice-and-tooth-paste, oranges-and-apples (wow, oranges don’t go with anything) combos that make us go “huh”? Will a kitchen scale with an iPod dock and speaker make it on any of these chefs’ must-own kitchen gadget lists? [wired.com]

Here’s our round-up of food news, trends and happenings across the web. Check back for more, and tell us what else you’re loving in the comments

Chopped Up: Ted’s All-Star Finale Recap

by in Shows, April 3rd, 2011
The Final Four of Chopped All-Stars: Anne Burrell, Nate Appleman, Michael Proietti and Aarón Sanchez.

In this corner: Chef Michael Proietti, a fan favorite from season 5 of The Next Food Network Star, competing on behalf of the Jed Foundation;

Next: Chef Nate Appleman, James Beard Award Winner, Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chef cover boy, Iron Chef America challenger and competitor on The Next Iron Chef, cooking for the Kawasaki Disease Foundation;

And then: Chef Anne Burrell, star of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, co-host of Worst Cooks in America, and longtime right hand for Mario Batali on Iron Chef America, competing to help the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation;

And, finally, the Chairman of Chiles, the Tortilla King: Latin-cuisine impresario Chef Aarón Sanchez, beloved Chopped judge, veteran of Iron Chef America and The Next Iron Chef, co-star of Chefs vs. City, playing for the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

The day had finally come. We started with 16 chefs competing for $50,000 to be awarded to a charity of their choice and in the end, it all came down to dessert. I don’t think we’ve ever seen competitions this close or food this outstanding. This competition has been rigorous for the contestants but almost equally challenging for the judges. Every deliberation in this All-Stars series has been tough. These contestants have been consistently dishing up truly killer food under nearly impossible conditions.

Read more

Chopped for Charity

by in Shows, April 1st, 2011

All-StarsOur Food Network fans are full of great ideas. In a comment on our blog after an episode of Chopped All-Stars, fan Eric Londergan suggested that we post a list of all of the contestants’ charities. We took him up on it and pulled together this rundown of the organizations that each All-Star chef played for — plus, we asked host Ted Allen to weigh in with his own charity pick. Thanks, Eric!

Of course, there are only four left standing to compete in the All-Stars finale this Sunday night: Aaron Sanchez, playing for the Greater New Orleans Foundation; Anne Burrell, supporting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation; Michael Proietti, competing for the Jed Foundation; and Nate Appleman, representing the Kawasaki Disease Foundation. All are beyond worthy causes, to be sure, and all four chefs are hungry to win for their causes.

Which charity will get a hefty $50,000 donation, and who will walk away with bragging rights? You’ll have to watch and see! Don’t miss the super-charged Chopped All-Stars finale this Sunday at 9pm/8c.

 

A Fresh Take on Frozen Favorites

by in Recipes, March 31st, 2011
No need to nuke these nuggets

Today is the last day of National Frozen Food Month, and while we love frozen margaritas, store-bought TV dinners are often laden with sodium, sugar and fat. Our fresh recipes for frozen food-inspired classics will turn a drab weeknight meal into a glowing dish.

Tired of greasy fish sticks? Try Parmesan Salmon Fish Sticks from food.com. Not only are they lightly baked instead of fried, they’re also made with heart-healthy salmon. Serve these sticks alongside a marinara or pesto sauce instead of the usual tartar for an Italian twist.

Rachael Ray’s Lazy Lasagna With Lamb Ragu, Spinach and Ricotta from cookingchanneltv.com is as simple to make as its name suggests. A quick meat ragu is tossed with pasta and ricotta cheese before being topped with creamy béchamel sauce. And there’s no need to spend time layering sheets of noodles — just add the prepared ingredients to a pan and bake away.

Panko Chicken Nuggets from foodnetwork.com are a healthy alternative to their freezer-section counterparts (you know, the ones that never seem to defrost completely). Japanese-style breadcrumbs can be found in most grocery stores and make these baked bites extra crispy.

With BBQ Chicken Pizza from food2.com, tangy barbecue sauce, creamy mozzarella cheese and shredded chicken top a store-bought pizza crust. Throw this pie in the oven any night of the week for a quick, crowd-pleasing meal.

The Latest from Food Network Stars

by in News, View All Posts, March 31st, 2011
Guy Fieri
Paula is putting on a new show.

Savannah Now is reporting that the Lady & Sons has added dinner theater to the dining experience at Paula Deen’s restaurant. Diners can now enjoy Hard-Hearted Hannah’s Playhouse presentation of ‘There’s a Bomb on Trolley 409!’ while sampling some of Paula’s best dishes. The Lady & Sons has rented basement space for the production and a buffet will be provided before the performance begins. For now, Hard-Hearted Hannah’s has dates available through October, and more dates may be added later. Tickets are $55 per person, which includes the dinner buffet and the performance. For information or reservations, visit www.hardheartedhannahsplayhouse.com or call 912-659-4383.

Alton Brown brought large crowds to Dauphin Island for a gumbo cook-off this past weekend, serving as judge for the gumbo competition. The al.com blog reported record attendance for the event in an area bouncing back from the BP oil spill.  Alton is a big advocate for local and sustainable seafood. The event featured 21 different teams cooking variations of the dish competing for the best flavor in the seafood and freestyle categories.  Before giving out the awards, Alton declared that gumbo is “the hardest thing I’ve had to cook” and took then questions from the audience.

The Food Network Fans are constantly looking for info and sharing links on where we can find favorite stars, discuss favorite shows, visit a book signing, or see an appearance in other venues. We invite you to stop by and visit at FoodNetworkFans.com

Charity Cake: Bid on a Custom Charm City Creation

by in News, March 30th, 2011
Duff
Duff loves sweets and good causes -- buy a cake to help Japan!

Everyone loves to eat cake, but it’s not often you get to help people by eating cake. In the wake of the devastating Japan tsunami, Duff and the Ace of Cakes crew are holding an eBay auction for a custom-designed Charm City Cake, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the American Red Cross.

The lucky winner gets a cake consultation at the Baltimore or LA Charm City Cakes location, where you and the staff will dream up the most outrageous cake since this cheeseburger-dog-fry combo:

Duff's Take on Fast Food

Hurry: The bidding ends on April 3 and the current price is at $1,826. Need inspiration? Browse Duff’s latest creations, or check out these custom cakes from FoodNetwork.com fans.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
You'll be as excited as Meredith Vieira when you get your custom-made cake.

Can’t shell out the cash for a cake? Help victims of the Pacific tsunami by making a donation at RedCross.org. Or, text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to donate $10.

Side Dish: More Food on the Web

by in View All Posts, March 29th, 2011
And we thought we had weird pancakes

Mac & Cheese Pancakes? The story goes something like this: Famed NYC chef Kenny Shopsin had a patron who only ate either mac and cheese or pancakes. One day, said patron couldn’t choose between the two and asked Shopsin to decide. The result is a serendipitous combination of the disparate dishes, and now Shopsin is showing us how they’re made. [youtube.com/TheNewYorkTimes]

DIY Easter Candy: We’re looking ahead to Easter, and we’ve been busy baking up the most festive desserts yet: springtime cupcakes, a new kind of carrot cake and more. Well here’s another totally adorable idea: a deviled egg-inspired Cadbury Creme. [seriouseats.com]

Cooking Beets and Spinning Beats: The New York Times profiles “Lunch Breaks,” a web video series that combines hip hop and healthy cooking, helmed by famed break dancer Richard Colon. Its verdict? “Think of Wayne’s World meets the Food Network — with a funky beat.” Fun! [nytimes.com]

Kitchen Things You Can’t Live Without: 13 chefs weigh in on their five favorite kitchen tools. They range from the commonly used (pepper grinders) to the totally personal (special spoons). We’re still unclear on what to do with one chef’s tweezers. What can’t you live without? [huffingtonpost.com] [Food Network Store]

Here’s our round-up of food news, trends and happenings across the web. Check back for more, and tell us what else you’re loving in the comments.

Chopped Up: Ted’s All-Star Recap, Round Four

by in Shows, March 27th, 2011

In the last round before the finale, four veterans experienced the other side of the chopping block.

The cast and producers of Chopped get this all the time from fans, on Facebook, on the street, at festivals: Yeah, sure, those judges of yours can pick apart a dish all day long—but could they handle the pressure on the HOT side of the chopping block? For four of our judges, this episode finally put that question to rest for good.

From our newest regular critic, Maneet Chauhan, to veterans Amanda Freitag, Geoffrey Zakarian and Aarón Sanchez, the energy and enthusiasm was incredible—and so were the nerves! In the judges’ lounge before the battle, Geoffrey acted cool as a cucumber (as always), but I didn’t believe him. Aarón was hopping up and down with nervous energy and even more bluster than usual—a different person than the sensitive, hilarious judge you see seated at the Block. Amanda confessed to some butterflies, too, but as a formidable competitor who came in third on The Next Iron Chef, we knew she would be vicious at the stove. Maneet, also a NIC veteran, seemed the least ruffled to me.

For me, this battle was the most anticipated of the whole series. But for the judges, it was the most dreaded. It is not easy to criticize the work of your friends, colleagues and peers, face-to-face, on national television, let alone to chop three out of the four, and Alex Guarnaschelli, in particular, was not looking forward to it. But everybody came in knowing that this was for charity and for fun, and that only one Chopped judge was going to come out on top. So we started the clock and got down to business.

Of course, our judge/competitors had a huge advantage over the average Chopped contestant — they’re all top-flight New York City chefs with years of experience, they know the palates of their colleagues, they know the kitchen inside and out, and not only are they not afraid of cameras, they know how to seduce them.

Read more

Food Network Magazine’s Cookbook, Great Easy Meals, Made the NY Times Bestsellers List!

by in Books, News, March 25th, 2011

It’s true! Food Network Magazine’s new cookbook, Great Easy Meals, is officially a New York Times Best Seller. The new cookbook is packed with 250 simple meals that are perfect for weeknight cooking, including 50 new ten-minute dessert recipes. The book also has dozens of cooking tips from the Food Network Kitchens, menu-planning ideas and looks inside the kitchens of your favorite FN stars. Food Network Magazine featured a few of the super-easy, super-fast desserts in its April issue. Here are a couple of favorites:

Grapefruit Mousse

Read more