Tyler Florence’s San Francisco restaurant, Wayfare Tavern, fills its menu with a variety of seasonal and local produce. So what better way for Tyler to share his California kitchen than to fly in the freshest vegetables from the west coast straight to New York City for the Wine & Food Festival?
It’s Thursday, and while that means everyone is just one day away from the weekend, it also means it’s time to throw back — to an earlier period in Food Network’s history. Check back on FN Dish every Thursday to find the latest #tbt of your favorite chefs and get a retro look at their earliest days on TV.
In his latest two series, The Great Food Truck Race and Food Court Wars, Tyler’s shining the spotlight on two relatively young culinary trends: mobile eateries and food court dining. But before he was traveling coast-to-coast with food truck rookies or helping aspiring entrepreneurs launch their own shopping mall restaurant, he was teaching kitchen basics on How to Boil Water and rescuing home cooks on Food 911, two of Food Network’s earliest programs.
Premiering in the early 1990s, How to Boil Water was originally hosted by Emeril Lagasse, but eventually Tyler took over, and soon he was the “teacher” advising his co-host, Jack Hourigan, on how to make classic favorites like Teriyaki Chicken Wings and Scalloped Potato Gratin. He introduced seemingly difficult cooking techniques with ease and made the kitchen approachable for novice chefs, something he continued to do when he took his passion for teaching into viewers’ homes on Food 911.
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Tyler Florence is back to host the fourth season of The Great Food Truck Race. Like last season, the food truck teams are made up of newbies who dream of one day operating their own mobile restaurant business. There’s a lot at stake: the winning team gets $50,000 and gets to keep their truck. Tyler guides the teams on their coast-to-coast journey, and along the way doles out challenges, with each new one more difficult than the last. And this year the route is the longest yet, so these teams are in for the ride of their lives. FN Dish recently caught up with Tyler to chat about the new season, his take on the food truck scene and his advice for the teams.
Watch the season premiere of The Great Food Truck Race on Sunday, Aug. 18 at 9pm/8c.
What are you looking forward to most on the new season of The Great Food Truck Race?
It’s the first year we have a team from Hawaii, which is really exciting, and we also have several all-female teams. The teams were so good this year, even as rookies. I think the teams are actually watching past seasons and taking notes. Although they’ve never done it before, they’ve seen the other people start from scratch and they’re taking those notes to heart.
On Food Network’s new series, Food Court Wars, two teams of aspiring food entrepreneurs face-off for a chance to win their own food court restaurant entirely rent-free for one year. On each episode, the teams have an opportunity to open a brand-new eatery in their local mall, test their concept, market their brand and run the outlet for a full day for hungry shoppers. The team whose restaurant makes the most profit wins the space. Host Tyler Florence helps the teams through their challenges, offering up his advice on how to make their concept a success. FN Dish recently caught up with Tyler to chat about the new show.
Catch the season premiere of Food Court Wars on Sunday, July 7 at 10pm/9c to see who wins their dream prize.
What do you think makes mall food courts so appealing or unappealing? Do you think they’re due for an update?
TF: I don’t want anybody to think I have some grandiose opinion about food courts and what they serve. I see it just like everybody sees it — it needs to be fixed — and that’s why I love the show. What we did with The Great Food Truck Race is we actually spawned an entire new genre of restaurants. I’m not saying we invented food trucks, but we created two epic fires in the country. We’ve shown it’s doable. We’ve shown there’s a new restaurant business model that can be profitable. Young, independent entrepreneurs are adding such a new level of colorful diversity in restaurants — coast to coast, from Miami to Alaska — with wonderful mobile restaurant operations, and they’re doing it at a very, very high level. It’s so impressive to watch.
Tyler Florence is on a mission this summer to shine a light on one area of the restaurant industry that’s rarely the focus of inspired eats: shopping mall food courts. In his brand-new series, Food Court Wars, Tyler judges teams of budding entrepreneurs with focused food points of view as they face off in malls across the country for the chance to open their dream eatery.
With Tyler — a longtime professional chef and restaurant owner — at the helm, it won’t be enough for the teams to turn out quick-service meals. These groups of spouses and friends must demonstrate their management skills and business-minded expertise, plus their abilities to offer the highest-quality food, if they want to earn their own business and run it rent-free for an entire year. Each week, they’ll battle in challenges that test their original marketing ideas, purchasing know-how and basic food preparation skills before the most-profitable team can claim the win.
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Whether Tyler Florence is cooking in his restaurants in San Francisco and Mill Valley, Calif., on TV or at home for his three kids, fresh ingredients are always on his mind. “It’s what California cuisine is all about,” says the 16-year Food Network veteran. “I always think about myself as a middleman, a translator of flavors who respects the produce.” Tyler’s newest cookbook, Tyler Florence Fresh, fully embraces this ingredient-driven mantra.
Tyler recently chatted with FN Dish about the book, sharing why it’s different from his previous seven cookbooks, his advice for home cooks, and the backstory behind the adorable chick perched atop his shoulder on the cover.
We’re giving away copies of Tyler Florence Fresh to three lucky Dish readers. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. Tell us: What’s your favorite winter produce and why?
Want a sneak peek? Check out three recipes from the book and read on for our Q&A with Tyler.
Read official rules before entering
We’re just hours away (10pm/9c) from the start of the third season of The Great Food Truck Race and while we’ve been previewing each truck on FN Dish all week, who better to kick off the new season than Tyler Florence? We caught up with him on the set of Food Truck and asked him to give us a sneak peek of what we can expect. And mark your calendar for Tuesday, August 21, at 3pm EST when Tyler Florence stops by to chat and answer questions about the new season on Twitter. Don’t forget to Tweet along with us during the season premiere tonight using #GreatFoodTruckRace.
How does this season compare to last season?
TF: I’m really excited about the third season because we’re changing up the rules of the game. Instead of professional food truck operators, we’re flipping the whole thing on its side. We looked for teams that would love to have a food truck — really confident people and fantastic chefs that would really love to get into the food business. They’re going to compete for a chance to win their very own food truck and that’s the grand prize at the end of the race.
Why do you enjoy being a part of this show?
TF: I try to be part of the solution because we are giving people the courage to do this themselves and people are doing well as a legit business. I’d much rather pay $6 for a food truck meal than in a fast food chain. It’s encouraging people to be in business for themselves.
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This past Tuesday, Food Network fans had the chance to leave a question for Tyler Florence about his new season of The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network’s Facebook page. We promised he’d answer a selection of them:
William Zoellick: How do you determine which food trucks are to compete?
Tyler: The casting process is handled by the production company in Los Angeles and they look for a good slice of an American story. This year we have trucks from New York, Miami and Cleveland — they’re all the best-of-the-best.
Tammy Sanner McCrae: How do you pick the cities you stop in?
Tyler: We didn’t want to double up on the cities we visited in the previous season, so this year we started out in Malibu, then we went to Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and so on. Every season, we’re going to plot a new course across the United States with new cities.
More of your questions answered after the jump »
Bobby Flay has been cast to play a fictional version of himself in the final season of the HBO series Entourage. The character Ari Gold will discover his wife is dating the chef. In real life, Bobby is married to actress Stephanie March, but the TV show will portray him as a bachelor. Fans who prefer the nonfiction version of chef Flay can find him offering barbecue and grilling tips at Guild Hall in East Hampton, N.Y., on July 31 at 11am. The event is part of the hall’s series Stirring the Pot: Conversations With Culinary Celebrities.
Iron Chef Marc Forgione, with the help of other chefs, will host his first fundraising dinner this November for Feeding America, a Chicago-based nonprofit with a network of 200 food banks. “Charity is an extension of what we do,” said Forgione, as he took a break from taping Iron Chef episodes. “I don’t even have to think twice about it.”
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Iron Chef Jose Garces will participate in The Great Chefs Event in Philadelphia, Penn. on Tuesday June 14 in support of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Alex Scott, a young girl with a childhood cancer called neuroblastoma, founded the organization. Every year she opened a lemonade stand in front of her home with the proceeds going to benefit pediatric cancer research. Alex inspired people from all over the world, motivating them to hold their own lemonade stands and donate to her cause. In August of 2004 at the age of 8, Alex passed away knowing she had helped raise over $1 million dollars to help find a cure for the disease that took her life. To date, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation has raised over $40 million towards fulfilling Alex’s dream of finding a cure by funding over 150 research projects nationally. If you would like to attend the event featuring Chef Garces visit: The Great Chefs Event.
Chef Marcela Valladolid stopped by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon late last week to whip up recipes perfect for the warm summer weather. Marcela taught Jimmy the fine art of sipping tequila and guided him through the steps of making a Mexican style burger. Watch the video clip: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
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