Tag: Simon Majumdar

Everything You Need to Know About Pecorino

by in How-to, September 6th, 2014

Everything You Need to Know About PecorinoFor many people who see their favorite chef grating salty slivers of it over a plate of perfectly cooked pasta or a New Haven-style pizza, pecorino cheese has become almost interchangeable with Parmesan.
There is so much more to this beautiful, traditionally crafted cheese than just being an alternative garnish, however, and I hope that after reading this, you will not only realize just how much hard work goes into getting pecorino to your table, but you will also be tempted to make it a star ingredient in some of your future culinary endeavors.

What Is Pecorino?
The name pecorino is actually taken from the Italian word pecora, which means “sheep.” It links back to a time when sheep were an essential source of food and materials for rural families in what is now Italy. And the first historical records of the cheese being made come from nearly 2,000 years ago, in the works of the Roman writer Pliny the Elder.

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“The Sacred Mushroom” — Everything You Need to Know About Morels

by in How-to, August 26th, 2014

Everything You Need to Know About Morel MushroomsThere 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.”

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Everything You Need to Know About: Langoustines

by in How-to, July 12th, 2014

Everything You Need to Know About: LangoustinesThere 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.

Let’s begin with that sweetest of seafood delicacies: langoustines.

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Simon Majumdar Reveals the Mind of a Cutthroat Kitchen Judge

by in Shows, July 9th, 2014

Alton Brown and Simon MajumdarFrom The Next Iron Chef to Iron Chef America, Simon Majumdar is no stranger to a judges’ table, but the difference between the evaluations on those shows and those on Cutthroat Kitchen is that with the latter, he isn’t aware of all that led to the chefs’ finished dishes. Round after evilicious round, Simon and the other judges are introduced to seemingly innocent plates, and they’re unaware of the oddball products and the perhaps inferior utensils and tools used to create them; it’s then up to Simon and the other judges to review chefs’ offerings as simply as the food they are, not as the results of sabotage. FN Dish checked in with Simon recently to chat about his experience judging on Cutthroat Kitchen, plus his memorable dishes from the show and the process of being hidden from the competition.

What are you most looking forward to as Cutthroat Kitchen continues to evolve into more seasons?
Simon Majumdar: Alton’s getting into his stride with it, so I think he loves the fact that it’s getting more and more evil .… There’s a lot more [that’s] elaborate coming up. I mean there are fat suits, there are mini kitchens, there are – I mean it’s getting seriously crazy. I walk out of the studio sometimes to the trailer where they put us and I walk past the challenge producers — the ones who devise all this eviliciousness — and I have no idea what they’re doing. There are carpenters out there, bouncing table-tennis balls, I mean, and it’s basically becoming like Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and I think that’s what people love. Because I think people were worried at first; they were like, “It’s not a cooking show, and how can you eat that food?” but the thing is that some of the food is really good.

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Simon’s Top 10 Tips for Winning Cutthroat Kitchen

by in Shows, June 14th, 2014

Simon's Top 10 Tips for Winning Cutthroat KitchenThanks to a winning combination of one of the best production crews in the business and the #Evilicious leanings of its host, Alton Brown, Cutthroat Kitchen has not only become a huge hit, but it has also provided me, as a judge, with one of the most-fun jobs I’ve had since I moved over to this side of the pond.

Dozens of people ask me what it takes to succeed on the toughest culinary show on television. So, just in case you’re ever called upon to stand face-to-face with Mr. Brown, here are my top 10 tips on how to win in Cutthroat Kitchen.

1. Shop Smart: As I found in my one appearance behind the stoves to date, you don’t need Alton Brown to ruin your day in Cutthroat Kitchen; you can just as easily do it yourself. A bad showing in the pantry can easily lead to an early exit. Be sure not only to make a mental list of basics for the dish you are asked to prepare, but also grab some staples like eggs and flour, ingredients that can get you out of a bind if the bidding goes against you.

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Grown-Up Sabotage in a Kid-Size Kitchen — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, January 12th, 2014


From competition and available prize money to chefs’ hopes and judges’ expectations, Cutthroat Kitchen isn’t short on anything, least of all sabotage. But tonight the contest took a turn for the pintsize in Round 3, when Chef Midgley found himself cooking strawberry shortcake in a tiny kids’ kitchen, equipped with a miniscule sink, toaster oven and induction range, as well as petite utensils.

“If you can only imagine in your mind’s eye big ol’ mitts on that guy using these little-bitty tools,” Alton said to Simon after he revealed the play-size setup to the judge on his After-Show. “I probably would have cried and run off into the corner,” Simon joked of how he may have approached this challenge, as he and Alton crouched down next to it. It turns out, however, that Chef Midgley found success with this sabotage, as he completed the round on time and presented Simon with a dish superior to his rival’s balsamic-soaked plate.

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Plums — Iron Chef America Ingredients 101

by in Shows, January 28th, 2013

Iron Chef America Battle PlumThere is rarely a time when the large bowl in my kitchen is not filled with whatever fruity delights are in season. And when I’m worn out by my travels, it’s a delicious piece of fruit that I crave more than anything else to restore my good humor.

Of the many different types of fruit I love, it is the appearance of sweet, juicy plums at my local farmers’ market that excites me the most. This is not only because they are so good when eaten raw, but also because I love to cook with them.

I definitely picked up some new ideas for my kitchen from Iron Chef Symon and his recent challenger, Chef Tio, and I hope they will inspire you too to make even more of the huge variety of plums available today.

What are plums?

Plums, or prunus domestica, are part of the family of drupe fruits. This is a genus of plant where the seed is protected by a hard shell and, just like plums, includes peaches, cherries and almonds.

Simon breaks down the Secret Ingredient

10 Interesting Facts About Tea — Iron Chef America Ingredients 101

by in Drinks, Shows, January 21st, 2013

Iron Chef America Battle TeaAs a very proud Englishman, I know that it is tea rather than blood that flows through my veins and that it’s a very rare day indeed when I don’t pop the kettle on the stove for a nice strong “cuppa” to fortify me through a long day of work.

Although I was disappointed not to be asked to judge this particular battle in Kitchen Stadium, I was just as keen as everyone else to see what magic Iron Chef Forgione and his challenger, Chef Kittichai could come up with to give inspiration on new ways to use one of my own kitchen essentials.

Here are 10 interesting facts that you might not know about tea:

1. The word tea comes from the Chinese T’e, which was the word in the Amoy dialect for the plant from which tea leaves came. In Mandarin, the word was ch’a, which is where the words char and chai are derived from.

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10 Interesting Facts About Scotch Whisky

by in Drinks, Shows, January 14th, 2013

Iron Chef America Battle Scotch WhiskyLast night’s Iron Chef America battle between Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian and Michael Chiarello brought one of my favorite tipples to the forefront: Scotch whisky. Instead of breaking down the ingredient like I usually do, here are 10 interesting facts that you may not know about this Secret Ingredient:

1. The term “whisky” is actually derived from the Gaelic words uisage beatha, which in turn came from the Latin Acqua Vitae or “water of life.” It’s thought that the name refers to the fact that these spirits were first used by monks for medicinal purposes.

2. The oldest reference to the production of whisky is not in fact in Scotland, but in Ireland, where it is believed that monks began distilling spirits as far back as the fifth century. The first reference from Scotland is found in the Exchequer rolls, the accounting records for the royal finances in 1494, where an allowance was made for “eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae.”

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Ground Meat — Iron Chef America Ingredients 101

by in Shows, January 7th, 2013

Battle Ground Meat - Iron Chef AmericaI 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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