by Sara Levine in Events, Restaurants, May 5th, 2015
by Maria Russo in Shows, May 3rd, 2015
Chicago pride was on display last night at the 25th James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards, which have temporarily migrated from New York for a three-year run at the Windy City’s Lyric Opera. The ceremony’s host, Food Network’s own Alton Brown, may be a Southerner, but he was joined on stage by gala co-chairs Grant Achatz, Rick Bayless and Paul Kahan, three of Chicago’s greatest chefs. Rich Melman, founder of prolific Chicago-based restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award with a speech packed with pride for his hometown. Mayor Rahm Emanuel applauded the city’s food scene on the red carpet and in remarks on stage. When Food Network asked the mayor if he had any favorite places to travel outside of Chicago for great food, he didn’t miss a beat in retorting, “Yeah, Chicago!” And every time Chicago took home an award, the opera house boomed with cheers. Read more
by Sara Levine in Events, Restaurants, April 29th, 2015
From climbing atop an oversize highchair to donning the now-infamous blueberry suit, Jet Tila will stop at nothing to prove his Cutthroat Kitchen allegiance and attempt to understand what chefs had to endure in the throes of sabotage. On tonight’s all-new After-Show, Jet, alongside Alton Brown, took his devotion one step further by trying his hand at a particularly sweet sabotage as they reflected on the challenges to befall the Evilicious tournament chefs.
The name of the game was doughnuts in Round 3, and in true diabolical fashion, Alton auctioned off a timesuck that forced one competitor to use only his mouth to free a row of doughnuts suspended from strings. Upon learning of this sabotage and seeing it for himself, Jet could do little other than laugh in sheer disbelief, though Alton was quick to challenge him to an impromptu attempt. “I’ll meet you in the middle,” Alton told him. And Jet admitted, “This sucks,” after just a few seconds of grabbing at the first doughnut. “I can’t do this!” he joked, later taking a light-hearted approach to the game, while Alton used all of his determination to power through the task at hand.
by Maria Russo in Shows, April 12th, 2015
After 24 years in New York City, this year’s prestigious James Beard Foundation Restaurant & Chef Awards — often dubbed “the Oscars of food” — are moving west, to Chicago. More than 2,500 of the country’s top chefs, restaurateurs and food-media people will descend upon the Windy City this weekend, and FoodNetwork.com editors will be there to fill you in on all the action. But the proud, food-obsessed host city has plans that extend well beyond Monday night’s awards ceremony and gala, hosted by our own Alton Brown. Whether or not you’ve got a ticket to the coveted awards, here are some fun ways to celebrate Chicago’s impressive dining scene — all are open to the public, and some are even free.
Need Chicago restaurant recommendations? Check out Food Network’s Newcomer’s Chicago Eating Tour to get our picks for the best burger, pizza, new restaurant and more can’t-miss eats.
by Maria Russo in Shows, April 5th, 2015
It’s one thing to watch Cutthroat Kitchen competitors endure the hilariously evilicious sabotages that have been dealt them, but it’s another to attempt those challenges for yourself, experiencing the struggles they did firsthand and learning to bear them as best you can. As the judges learn on Alton’s After-Show what diabolical situations have led to chefs’ finished dishes, even they are wowed by the lengths to which sabotages have forced contestants to go just to cook a seemingly simple meal. For Jet Tila tonight, that surprise came when he tried his hand — or, rather, his foot — at wearing a 30-pound rum barrel.
“It’s really heavy,” Jet admitted, strapped into the contraption and feebly making his way around the kitchen. Alton Brown agreed that this was indeed a doozy of a sabotage; as he told Jet, “Of all the things I wouldn’t want, wearing that barrel … that’s physically grueling.” But when Jet told him just how “quite uncomfortable” this challenge was,” Alton was quick to remind him that such is the nature of the Cutthroat beast. “Yeah, it’s quite uncomfortable,” said Alton. “That’s why we do these things.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, March 24th, 2015
Canned whole chickens, vending-machine cheese, water-soaked hot dog rolls. Each of these items has been the focus of a Cutthroat Kitchen sabotage, and while they may be cringe-inducing (and downright hilarious) to fans watching at home, they’re nevertheless part of the offerings that the judges are forced to consume, as Simon Majumdar reminded us during the latest Alton’s After-Show.
“I have to eat this stuff; just remember that,” he told Alton Brown as he two looked back on a particularly doozy of a competition round on tonight’s all-new episode. The Round 3 challenge asked the chefs to make carrot cake in this spring-themed battle, and in the spirit of freshness and renewal in springtime, a sabotage forced one chef to “harvest ingredients new ingredients for their cake,” Alton explained. This involved digging through a makeshift garden for individually wrapped fixings, some classic like eggs and others not so traditional, like canned pickled carrots and cinnamon candies. “His sauce was odd, but now I know why,” Simon said of the offering from Chef Jeffrey, who was dealt this diabolical lot and called his dish Carrot Cake Surprise. “It’s Muggins here who gets to eat it,” he joked, adding of his own British sensibilities, “We never say something’s horrible. We go, ‘This is interesting’ or ‘This was a very brave choice.’ His was a very brave choice.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, March 22nd, 2015
All Cutthroat Kitchen chefs are notoriously diabolical — with their penchant for mind games and ease in doling out doom. But every once in a while we see a contestant who isn’t just a wicked-good competitor but rather a contender on a whole new level of evil. In the all-new upcoming tournament, Cutthroat Kitchen: Evilicious, these especially fierce fighters will take their places in the Cutthroat arena for a second round of battles and, of course, all-new opportunities to sabotage.
On Sunday, April 19 at 10|9c, the first round of this five-part tournament will kick off with four returning chefs. The winner from that heat, plus the victors from the next three matchups, will come together in a nail-biting tournament finale on Sunday, May 17 at 10|9c, and ultimately only one competitor will earn the title of Evilicious Champion. Since all 16 of the competing chefs have battled before, they’re no strangers to the hilariously awful tests they’ll face in the name of sabotage. In fact, they relish in the chaos — especially when they’re responsible for creating it for others.
by Maria Russo in Shows, March 8th, 2015
From the wonderfully weird to the disturbing and downright diabolical, Cutthroat Kitchen judges have seen nearly everything in the seven seasons of evilicious competition. But something in tonight’s all-new battle forced longtime judge Simon Majumdar to simply cover his eyes in disbelief as he recounted the horror during Alton’s After-Show.
The Round 1 challenge — eggs Benedict — may have started simply enough, but after a few required cooking implements were put in place, the situation turned grisly as Chef Trevor was forced to use a conveyor toaster to prepare his plate. “He actually made … a serviceable hollandaise, but he decided at the last minute to put it on a plate and keep it warm in the top of that,” Alton Brown told Simon. “And in the time that he did that, it went from sauce to scrambled egg. It because a hollandaise crumble.” While Simon had no choice but to rest his head in his hands as he looked back on that doomed dish, fans were reminded of what Simon said after tasting Chef Trevor’s offering: “I never need to eat another hollandaise crumble as long as I live.” Nevertheless, though, Chef Trevor managed to survive the round, as Simon explained that another rival, Chef Monterey, presented a poor egg, which was ultimately unforgivable.
by Amy Reiter in Food Network Chef, News, March 5th, 2015
Omelets may seem easy enough to make — after all, it takes just one, maybe two, ingredients to prepare them. But as judge Antonia Lofaso explained to Alton Brown on the host’s all-new Alton’s After-Show tonight, “maybe people don’t actually know what an actual omelet is,” as several Cutthroat Kitchen competitors presented her with scrambles instead. Ever the master of Good Eats, Alton took this opportunity to demonstrate the ins and outs of proper omelet technique, and along with Antonia, he dished out a quality omelet offering. Read on below for their top 10 tips to mastering winning omelets every time, then click the play button on the video above to watch their culinary lesson unfold.
1. “I like three eggs for an 8-inch pan,” Alton told Antonia, who agreed that’s an ideal amount.
2. It’s best to start with room-temperature eggs so it doesn’t take them as long to warm up, noted Alton.
3. “I don’t want to add my salt too early,” Antonia explained as she whisked her eggs. “I want to get a fluff first.” She told Alton that salt could actually start the cooking process of the egg and thus change its color, so it’s best to wait until just before cooking to stir in salt.
by Maria Russo in Shows, March 1st, 2015
On May 4, Alton Brown, Cutthroat Kitchen’s master of eviliciousness, will take on the master of ceremonies duties as the host of the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards, a prestigious awards ceremony that is the culinary’s world’s answer to the Oscars. After being held in New York for 24 years, the event will take place in Chicago this year at the city’s appropriately sumptuous Civic Opera House, home of its Lyric Opera. It will be Alton’s second stint hosting the awards; he previously hosted in 2012. Alton is also a repeat James Beard Foundation Award winner, most recently honored as Outstanding Television Host – for his work on Good Eats — in 2011.
You can find a full list of this year’s restaurant- and chef-award semifinalists here. The foundation will announce the final nominees in these categories, as well as the nominations for its book, journalism, broadcast media and restaurant design awards, on Tuesday, March 24. The annual James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards Dinner, to be held in New York on April 24, will be hosted by Carla Hall, of ABC’s The Chew.”
No matter chefs’ culinary skill levels or the amount of time they’ve prepared for competition, nothing can ready them for battle on Cutthroat Kitchen. Combined with the fierce time constraints in any given round, the unruly sabotages doled upon them practically guarantee they must reimagine any preconceived ideas about their dish and simply attempt to finish on time. For many finalists, however, the only way to complete the round is to offer a deconstructed version of their dish, featuring just its parts, which when combined, may make up a whole.
Such a maneuver is risky, as judges — especially seasoned ones like Antonia Lofaso, Jet Tila and Simon Majumdar — can see past a chef’s mention of purposely deconstructing a dish and realize that it’s likely a last-ditch effort to plate his or her food. On tonight’s all-new episode, Chef Jenny was faced with a doozy of a sabotage that landed her in a racecar seat, so her ability to cook quickly was compromised. And much to the judge’s horror, Chef Jenny told Antonia that her lasagna was “deconstructed.” Antonia explained of her reaction to Alton Brown on the host’s After-Show, “I almost can’t take it seriously when they say ‘deconstructed’ to me anymore.” Alton added, “Because nobody actually does it unless they’re in trouble.” Antonia said of Chef Jenny sarcastically, “She’s like, ‘Oh, I really meant to just throw the noodle down the center and put some raw tomato on it with a dollop of ricotta.'” Ultimately the curse of the deconstructed dish struck again: Chef Jenny said goodbye after the lasagna round.