When it comes to decking the halls, you can be sure that your favorite Food Network stars have no-fail recipes, easy entertaining tips and party-ready menus to help you host your best holiday ever. But have you ever wondered how these chefs celebrate the season when they’re away from the cameras? Among them, which are known for an infectious Christmas spirit, and who prefers to spend a casual holiday enjoying non-traditional eats and drinks? Do they like to curl up in front of the fireplace with their families, or are they drawn to the hustle and bustle of the season? We recently caught up with Paula Deen, Sunny Anderson, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and more Food Network favorites to find out the answers to these questions and more, and what they told us may surprise you.
Test Your Knowledge: How FN Stars Celebrate the Holidays
Think you know how the chefs celebrate the holidays? Take this quiz to find out, and learn about their plans for this season, memories of holidays past, ultimate Christmas menus and more bits of seasonal trivia.
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Who owns a full-size leg lamp similar to the one that's featured in the classic holiday film “A Christmas Story”?
One Christmas when she was a child, Sunny Anderson was given an extra-special teddy bear that she still has today. What did she name that teddy bear?
For Trisha Yearwood, the perfect holiday meal includes baked ham, green beans, coconut cake and what other dish to honor her late mother?
Which two stars have experienced holiday cooking disasters involving raw turkeys?
Alton Brown and Bobby Flay
Trisha Yearwood and Rachael Ray
Sandra Lee and Alex Guarnaschelli
Paula Deen and Robert Irvine
Flannel pajamas and mismatched socks are part of whose Christmas morning wardrobe?
Giada De Laurentiis
“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is whose favorite Christmas song?
How many Christmas trees does Sandra Lee set up in her home during the holiday season?
Jellyfish, dumplings and seafood-stuffed pineapple are often what you'll find which star enjoying on Christmas?
"Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate" is what this star said is part of her perfect holiday meal.
Giada De Laurentiis
Which two chefs consider “It's a Wonderful Life” to be their favorite Christmas movie?
Paula Deen and Alex Guarnaschelli
Robert Irvine and Rachael Ray
Sunny Anderson and Bobby Flay
Sandra Lee and Giada De Laurentiis
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No stranger to competitions, Masaharu Morimoto is one of the Chairman’s longest-standing Iron Chefs and a seasoned veteran of Kitchen Stadium, with more than 35 Iron Chef America battles under his belt. On Wednesday night, however, the tables will turn for this king of Japanese cuisine as he trades in his chef’s jacket and takes his place at the judges’ table of the Miss Universe Pageant.
The Iron Chef will join 16 other famous judges including musician CeeLo Green and three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings at Las Vegas’ Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino to oversee this annual pageant. As 89 contestants from around the world come together to compete in several rounds like a question-and-answer segment and evening gown presentation, it will be up to Iron Chef Morimoto and his fellow judges to determine who has proven herself worthy of the crown and the yearlong title of Miss Universe.
The traditional Christmas meal varies from family to family. Some gather around the table for variations of spaghetti, while others eat ham, but what is there for those families who want to stray away from the conventional meal? Surprise your family...
Gingerbread houses aren’t the only way to decorate with cookies around holiday time. Classic cut-out cookies make quite handsome ornaments. But what makes them even better than other handmade ornaments — like paper stars or pipe cleaner snowflakes — is that you can eat them (best the same day you bake them, of course). So if you’re bored of the same old decorations every year, why not try baking your own ornaments? Your only limitation is your imagination — or the size of your cookie cutter collection.
These Stained Glass Wreath Cookies make the perfect hanging ornament for your tree. The recipe from Sandra Lee uses store-bought sugar cookie dough to make it even easier. The colorful centers are created using hard candies that melt in the oven to replicate the look of stained glass. For an extra dazzling touch, use icing to affix silver dragees. Whatever you do, don’t forget to cut a hole at the top of each cookie using a large straw after they come out of the oven. It will make hanging them much easier.
Last Sunday night, the first part of the Next Iron Chefrivals’ road to redemption came to an end when they moved from their home base of sunny Los Angeles to Las Vegas to begin the second half of the competition. For Chef Nate Appleman, this transition proved to be a moment of mini redemption, as in Season 2 he was sent home just one episode prior to the chefs traveling to Tokyo, while for others the change of scenery was nothing remarkable, just another city in which to cook. “Regardless of the setting, I’ll do what is good food and what is my style,” Chef Jehangir Mehta said.
This week’s installment of Rival Recipes celebrates this shift in the season with a play on one part of Sin City in particular: the Strip. In Las Vegas, the Strip is known to be a bustling, tourist-heavy area packed with hotels, casinos and entertainment venues of all kinds. But in the culinary world, the strip is understood to be a marbled slab of beef that is deliciously tender and juicy. Chefs Elizabeth Falkner and Tim Love, two rivals who didn’t make the cut to travel to Vegas, have brought their best beef to the battle and are prepared to face off in a strip steak showdown with a New York in Cast Iron and New York Strip Steak With Serrano Lime Butter, respectively.
Food Network stars reveal their favorite cookbooks. Give one (or all!) to the chef in your house.
ALTON’S PICK: The Fireside Cook Book
Alton Brown’s most beloved cookbook, written by James Beard, isn’t about food science or crazy gadgets — it’s an old-school American classic. “It’s a clear portrait of American cuisine at its post World War II height, before the rise of California or fusion cuisine, or any cuisine for that matter,” he says. $30, Simon & Schuster
MARC’S PICK: The French Laundry Cookbook
Iron Chef Marc Forgione loves Thomas Keller’s fine-dining bible as much for how it looks as for what it says. “When I first picked up this book, I realized I had never seen food look like that before,” Marc says. “Reading Keller’s stories about ingredients, purveyors and staff helped me confirm that I wanted to be a chef.” $50, Artisan
We caught up withRon Ben-Israel, host of Sweet Genius and the mastermind behind Ron Ben-Israel Cakes in New York City, to chat with him about some of his holiday favorites. As he’s known for creating some of the country’s finest couture cakes, we weren’t surprised when we asked him about his favorite holiday dessert and he named an old-fashioned classic that, when finished, is a spectacular conversation piece.
What’s your favorite holiday dessert?
I love some of the old-fashioned desserts that have now disappeared from restaurants. Things you used to get at a tea parlor, like at the Plaza Hotel. Something that is elaborate and beautiful and nostalgic for me is baked Alaska. I’m also crazy about baked egg whites, which is really what meringue is. I used to be fascinated seeing my mother whip egg whites into a foam for baked Alaska or for mousse. Watching them gather up air and triple in volume to become white peaks was fascinating. You can mix dollops of egg whites with sugar and make the most amazing baked kisses. For an easy baked Alaska, take ready-made ice cream, shape it into a dome, cover it with swirls of meringue and brown it. The crunchiness on the outside and billowy soft layer underneath — it’s not hard to do. You can add a layer of cake for an interesting effect, or pour some liqueur around it and ignite the whole thing for flambe. Bring that to the holiday table and it’ll be spectacular.
On last Sunday’s episode of The Next Iron Chef, the remaining rivals packed up their knife kits and flew east to Sin City after five weeks of challenges and showdowns in Los Angeles. For the chefs, the move to Las Vegas proved to be a turning point in the competition, a sign that they are one step closer to claiming the only title that matters.
For Alton Brown, however, the move to Vegas was an opportunity to dabble in matchmaking — ingredient matchmaking, that is. With an altar of savory delicacies and sweet confections, he created a series of odd pairs like squid and marshmallows, chicken livers and peppermint candies, and bone marrow and fruit candies, which forced the rivals to think beyond the ordinary and create harmonious marriages out of culinary confusion.
Looking ahead to this week’s episode and the sneak-peek image above, it may seem as though Alton is once again experimenting with something new: flying. It turns out, however, that he is a frequent flier, and not just in the passenger sense. For more than 10 years, he’s been operating his own private airplane and only relies on commercial flights when there’s no other option.
With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season in full swing, it can be tempting to take shortcuts for the sake of simplicity. This year, we’re all about doing whatever it takes to make this holiday your easiest, best one yet, but when it comes to building your own gingerbread house, you can skip the store-bought, pre-assembled kit and create your own one from scratch in flash. Believe it not, the gingerbread house pictured above comes together in just 1 hour and 30 minutes thanks to a fuss-free recipe with clear, step-by-step instructions. Learn the basics of making gingerbread houses below, assemble and decorate this simple, seasonal structure with your family, then post a picture of the finished product to Food Network’s Facebook timeline.
The beauty of this gingerbread dough in particular is that it can be made entirely in one bowl. After creating a stiff mixture of wet and dry ingredients, however, it’s important that the dough chill in the refrigerator for at least a half-hour. This will make it less tacky and far easier for you to roll out.