For the first time on Chopped, professionals and amateur cooks will go head-to-head at the end of the five-part Ultimate Champions tournament. But they’ve all competed on Chopped before: They’ve tasted what it feels like to win, and they’re hungry for more. On tonight’s first round, four professional chefs battled to determine which one would move on to the grand finale, where there’s a chance to win the largest prize in the show’s history, $50,000, with a brand-new car to top it all off. FN Dish has the exclusive interview with the winner from Part 1.
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When faced with an ingredient like eel, most chefs would run the other way, but the judges on Chopped After Hours take the challenge in stride: “You think some slippery eels are going to shake our nerves?” retorts Aarón. Geoffrey recommends that the skin be removed, which is an important step. Only one pro chef managed to serve his dish with eel that had the skin removed in the appetizer round of the Ultimate Champions premiere. His dish turned out to be the judges’ favorite, but the other dishes left something to be desired — i.e., no skin.
Geoffrey, Chris and Aarón are cooking with the appetizer basket ingredients — eel, pepihuates, shaved coconut and sea beans — from tonight’s episode. Even though Geoffrey points out they’re not equipped to properly skin an eel, the three judges cleverly decide to parboil it first, which makes removing the skin and bones much easier compared with how the episode’s chefs struggled. The only ingredient that leaves Geoffrey flummoxed is the pepihuates. “Watch me magically transform it,” Chris asserts. Aarón explains it’s simply a Mexican tomato-based snack/drink with peanuts and a tamarind stick — not unlike a Bloody Mary, Ted thinks.
There are some ingredients that just scream luxury. Think of these ingredients as examples: caviar, lobster, truffles and Champagne. While we may know small bits of information on these products, if pressed for more info, we might struggle to give a detailed description of what they are, where they come from and what makes them so special (and so expensive).
This new feature will put on a spotlight on some of my favorite luxury ingredients. But I hope that when you read these articles, you will be inspired to seek out the best of the best and discover why your favorite Food Network chefs love them so much.
What are morels?
Everyone has a list of their own favorite ingredients, but there is one item that I know will bring a teary look of appreciation to just about every chef I encounter, and that is the morel mushroom. So much so that when I reached out to Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli for her opinion of the morel, she referred to it as the “sacred mushroom.”
Come Monday in honor of Labor Day, you’ll be swapping your briefcases, lunchboxes and break-your-shoulder bags for picnic baskets and beach totes. Instead of moseying through the cafeteria or eating from Tupperware at your desk, this day off demands a spread that’s ideal for outdoor eating. Set up a menu that screams day off and works for picnics, porches, backyard parties or anything without four walls. Here are the recipes you simply can’t end summer without:
Dress up shredded chicken or turkey with celery, mayo and onions for Chicken or Turkey Salad Sandwiches. Fold in apple, fennel or radish if you’re looking for a more exciting crunch.
The second stop in The Great Food Truck Race brought the rookies to Tucson. Many of the trucks thought that going from Southern California to the Southwest meant it would be an easy transition, but that wasn’t the case for everyone. Those who took the opportunity to adapt to local tastes found the best customer response, resulting in top sales. And Tyler’s Truck Stop challenge had the teams all selling a Sonoran hot dog, which proved to be one of the best ways of testing the teams’ marketing abilities. In the end, the team from SoCal came in first place, proving that they could make a comeback from last week.
Whether you’re looking for Southwestern favorites like burgers, Sonoran hot dogs or modern Mexican cuisine, we’ve narrowed down the restaurant offerings to the top 10 from the area, which include a few surprises like Jamaican stew and a Philly favorite.
By Teri Tsang Barrett
What will the stars and suits behind Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Mad Men and the other Emmy-nominated shows be dining on at the 2014 Emmy Awards Governors Ball on Monday night after the big ceremony?
Winners will celebrate, and those without statuettes will compensate with a sumptuous three-course meal featuring local seasonal vegetables and a fresh take on meat and potatoes. The food selections will highlight a variety of hues in keeping with the evening’s theme: a “Kaleidoscope of Color.”
The 3,800 assembled guests will start with a Grilled Peach and Heirloom Tomato Salad featuring little gem lettuce, candy-striped figs, Burrata cheese, Vidalia onions, a honey-lemon vinaigrette and toasted Marcona almonds, all seasoned with fleur de sel, peppermint and basil.
Aside from boiling a pot of water for noodles, pasta doesn’t necessarily require the heat of the stove or oven, as sauces can come together with little more than some stirring or blending. And during the dog days of summer like these, that’s indeed welcome news, on account of the scorching temperatures outside. While pesto may be the most-common no-cook sauce, tomato sauces, too, can be served raw, especially at this time of year when tomatoes are at their ripest — and sweetest.
Melissa d’Arabian lets seasonal tomatoes shine in her recipe for light and fresh Mediterranean Summer Pasta with Salsa Cruda (pictured above). The star of this fuss-free supper is a simple yet bold combination of seeded tomatoes, briny olives, salty capers and fragrant mint; after incorporating these go-to ingredients with bright orange zest and olive oil, let their flavors marry for a bit, then top them with just-cooked noodles. The heat of the pasta will gently cook the salsa-like tomato mixture to create a warm, satisfying plate, finished with grated Parmesan for added flavor.
What better way to savor the last days of sunshine than packing up a breakfast picnic? There are two ways to do it: Go old school with a blanket in the yard, or head to the patio. Either way, just pack a thermos of coffee, another full of milk (doing double duty as a beverage for the kids, plus creamer for the java), then bring your breakfast out on a tray — it’s easier to handle than a basket. Now take your pick: We’ve got muffins, eggs and more, each of them to go.
1. Baked Scrambled Eggs (pictured above): You don’t need a bug-shaped pan to pull this off, but it’s sure fun. Beaten eggs plus milk and the toppings of your choice (cheese, ham, tomatoes and more) go into the oven for a sturdy egg dish that’s just as good at room (or outdoor) temperature as it is hot.
The mini kitchen is no stranger to Cutthroat Kitchen, as chefs have been asked to work in kid-size constraints challenge after challenge. But on tonight’s all-new episode, Alton Brown unveiled a different tiny tool capable of doling out similar great trials during the Round 3 chocolate cake test: the toy stand mixer. Would this kid-friendly apparatus consisting of little more than a short, hand-powered wooden whisk and a shallow plastic bowl be enough to serve as a chef’s sole means of mixing? After all, to make chocolate cake, a competitor would need to be able to incorporate both wet and dry ingredients.
Before Alton auctioned off this doozy of a sabotage, Cutthroat Kitchen’s culinary team tested on the mixer to make sure it was indeed possible to execute within the contest, and Chelsea, a food stylist on set, wondered, “Does the cute factor, you think, count as extra points for this challenge?”
Click the play button on the video above to see the test in action, and learn how the mixer earned an “approved” rating.