This weekend, Food Network has a bunch of new episodes that capture the spirit of adventure, the willingness to try new things and the sense of competition.
On Saturday watch Barefoot Contessa and Giada at Home. Ina and Jeffrey travel through Napa Valley on their California adventure. Giada shows you how she likes to mix things up for dinner on Monday nights by going meatless.
On Sunday night, there are three competitions back-to-back. First, on Sugar Dome, different artists are challenged to create displays inspired by the ’80s. On Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, the stars head to a farm outside of Hollywood to convene with the sources of the food they must cook. And on Iron Chef America, it’s a rematch between Iron Chef Zakarian and challenger Chef Michael Chiarello, with special guest judge Neil Patrick Harris.
Read about the shows
I was thrilled to be asked to judge a Kitchen Stadium battle between Bobby Flay and Viet Pham, as they are two of my favorite chefs in the country. I was even more thrilled when the Chairman revealed that the Secret Ingredient for the challenge was to be ground meat. It may seem like an ingredient that is hard to elevate to Iron Chef levels, but I was certain that in the hands of these two accomplished chefs, my fellow judges and I were in for a real treat. I was right.
What is ground meat?
As the name suggests, ground meat is animal flesh that has been minced, once or twice depending on the use, and then mixed with onions, spices or herbs. It can then be shaped into such things as hamburgers or meatballs, cooked “loose” in meat sauces or even eaten raw (with caution). The most popular ground meat used in the United States is of course beef, but chicken, pork and turkey are also commonly available as are some more exotic meats such as venison, elk and even bison. Traditionally, grinding was a way of making tougher, cheaper cuts of meat easier to prepare, and while this is still generally the case, you can now find many butchers and restaurants grinding expensive parts of the animal for more premium dishes.
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A new Iron Chef has officially been crowned and added to the prestigious roster. Chef Alex Guarnaschelli prevailed in the final showdown, a full-out Kitchen Stadium battle that paid homage to three long-standing Iron Chefs: Chefs Flay, Symon and Morimoto.
Iron Chef Guarnaschelli is the executive chef at both The Darby and Butter Restaurants (take a photo tour here) in New York City. She’s also a veteran judge on Chopped. Returning for a chance at redemption, Chef Guarnaschelli survived all eight of the Chairman’s intense challenges, only finding herself in the Secret Ingredient Showdown once.
We recently sat down with Chef Guarnaschelli at Butter to chat about her experience on The Next Iron Chef: Redemption — why she decided to go for it a second time and what her biggest fear about Kitchen Stadium is.
Read our exclusive interview
There are no easy tests in Kitchen Stadium. The first battle for any newly crowned Iron Chef, however, is perhaps the toughest of all. The glory of winning The Next Iron Chef competition is all but forgotten and the winner now has to prove themselves worthy in the world’s toughest culinary arena.
It also doesn’t make any difference that Iron Chef Guarnaschelli has become familiar with Kitchen Stadium over the last year, as Iron Chef Zakarian’s sous chef. This time around, she was master, not servant, and any defeat would be associated directly with her name.
It was ironic that her first opponent would be Judy Joo, who — along with Iron Chef Michael Symon and I — was responsible for eliminating her in Season 4 of The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs. She not only battled to win, but also had a very definite point to prove.
The Secret Ingredient was mortadella (something her fellow rival chef, Chef Nate Appleman, is now very familiar with) and both chefs managed to get their first dish in front of the judges within the 20-minute time frame. Neither was declared a great success, but Iron Chef Guarnaschelli came away with a slender lead of two points to take into the rest of the battle.
On last Sunday night’s Next Iron Chef, in a glorious final battle in Kitchen Stadium against Chef Amanda Freitag, Chef Alex Guarnaschelli proved that she deserved to win the season of Redemption and the title of Iron Chef, making her the second female chef to hold the title. This Sunday is your chance to see Chef Guarnaschelli in her first battle on Iron Chef America. She will be up against Iron Chef UK‘s Judy Joo in an international battle. The competition will be judged by Jeffrey Steingarten, Karine Bakhoum and Tory Belleci.
Tune in on Sunday, December 30, at 9pm/8c to see if Chef Guarnaschelli can win her first battle as the new Iron Chef.
Whenever people stop to chat with me at airports, in restaurants or on the street, they usually have the same two questions.
The first is about how I managed to land one of the best gigs imaginable, eating dishes prepared for me by the finest chefs in the United States. The second is how my fellow judges and I go about the seemingly impossible task of deciding who will emerge victorious from Kitchen Stadium.
To answer the first question, you will have to ask Food Network. As long as they keep asking me, I’ll keep showing up. Heck, I’ll probably keep showing up even if they stop asking me.
I can, however, offer a slightly more detailed response for the second question.
While I suspect I shall never be accused of being on the fence about the dishes presented in Kitchen Stadium and The Next Iron Chef set, I also think that it’s important to be able to articulate to both the chefs and the audience watching at home why I think that a dish was successful or otherwise. During my appearances on Iron Chef America and The Next Iron Chef, I have developed a series of criteria that I hope help me do just that.
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Whether you’re a fan of Food Network, Cooking Channel or both, have you ever wondered what it would be like if the two networks fought for supremacy? Here’s your chance to see it for real on Iron Chef America. Food Network and Cooking Channel will battle it out in Kitchen Stadium, not only for the win, but for long-lasting bragging rights. You won’t want to miss this episode, which will surely go down in food television history.
Representing Food Network are Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Robert Irvine and Ted Allen. Representing Cooking Channel are Iron Chef Michael Symon, Nadia G and Ben Sargent. Tune in to find out which team will win glory for their network.
Tune in: Sunday, December 2 at 10pm/9c
Vote for the network you want to win
Can’t wait to start the holidays? This weekend, Food Network has all new episodes including exciting holiday specials to get you in the spirit — you won’t want to walk away from your television set.
Paula, Trisha and Jeff have new episodes showing their individual take on the holidays. Giada teams up with HGTV’s Sabrina Soto to renovate a deserving family’s kitchen and family room. In a special episode of Barefoot Contessa, Ina and her husband Jeffrey take a trip back to Brooklyn. On The Best Thing I Ever Made, watch Food Network chefs create holiday treats that are perfect for gift-giving. Plus there are new episodes of Rachael Ray’s Week in a Day, Sandra’s Restaurant Remakes and Guy’s Big Bite.
Paula’s Best Dishes: A Very Chatty Christmas
When Paula and her longtime friends, sisters Amy and Suzette, get together in the kitchen, it’s a fun-filled day of cooking and catching up on old times. Paula makes Crawfish, Bacon and Mushroom Stuffed Beef Tenderloin. Amy and Suzette make an Eggplant Rice Dressing. For dessert, Paula reinvents the classic fruitcake as a bread pudding and serves it up with whiskey sauce. It’s a Southern meal worthy of the holiday, all wrapped up in love and memories.
Tune in: Saturday, December 1 at 9:30am/8:30c
More holiday specials after the jump
With the upcoming holiday, it’s all about getting the family gathered around a Thanksgiving table full of food. With that in mind, there are two new shows to watch this Sunday that check off both those boxes.
Guy’s Big Bite: Guy’s Family Reunion
What happens when Guy Fieri and his extended family get together for a reunion in Nag’s Head, N.C.? A week-long, no-holds-barred gathering that’s filled with food cooked up by Guy himself. Beyond the food, there are games on the beach, deep sea fishing and crabbing. Get to know Guy on a personal level from his family’s perspective.
Tune in: Sunday, November 11 at 12pm/11am c
Iron Chef America: Thanksgiving Showdown
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if the Chopped judges battled it out in Kitchen Stadium, here’s your chance. Three Iron Chefs (Michael Symon, Marc Forgione and Geoffrey Zakarian) will join sides for the first time to battle it out against Chopped judges Aarón Sanchez, Scott Conant and Marc Murphy in a Thanksgiving showdown to determine which team’s Thanksgiving dishes will reign supreme.
Tune in: Sunday, November 11 at 10pm/9c
Get ready for the newest season of The Next Iron Chef by experiencing some of the most drool-worthy moments from seasons past at the Iron Chef’s restaurants. From the deliciously spicy dishes at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill to Michael Symon’s modern American food at Lola and the phenomenal Asian-fusion at Morimoto, you’re bound to find a secret ingredient to your liking. We’ve compiled the ultimate Food Network fan restaurant guide with the help of the On the Road app and website.
It’s hard not to be in a festive mood at Mesa Grill. There are so many margarita flavors and so much color in the food and decor that you can’t help but smile. But there’s serious cooking going on, too, with Bobby Flay’s love and mastery of all things Southwest coming through in every dish.
Keep reading for more restaurants