Ultimate Recipe Showdown

Food Network is putting cooks all over the US to the test to find the Ultimate Recipe in six different categories: Chicken, Burgers, Comfort Foods, Cakes, Pasta and Cookies.

The show, which will be hosted by Marc Summers and Guy Fieri will pit nine finalists in each category against each other in a head-to-head showdown. Like the other Food Network Challenges, the contestants will have to prepare their meals under the hot lights and in front of a live audience with the clock ticking. The prize? $25,000 and bragging rights!

The Ultimate Recipe Showdown starts on February 17 with chicken as the theme! Here’s an advance look at the competitors and the dishes they’ll be serving up.
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Meet Top Chef Lisa



Top Chef: Lisa

AGE: 27

HOMETOWN: Toronto, Canada – currently resides in New York City


CULINARY EDUCATION: A.A.S. culinary arts, B.S. food service management Johnson & Wales University

FAVORITE SIMPLE SPRING RECIPE: Chili rubbed lamb with strawberry-rhubarb jam, balsamic reduction and fresh mint

Being drawn to the flavors of Asian cuisine since a young age, Lisa moved to New York City where she decided food was her passion and career choice. At only 17, she attended Johnson & Wales University and received a B.S. in foodservice management. She moved to south Florida to diversify her cooking palette, absorbing the local flair of Latin food. With Asian cuisine still in her heart, Lisa moved back to New York to get involved with more Asian restaurants, working at Asia de Cuba, Rain and then Public. Lisa says she always exercises Asian flair in her dishes and has taught herself as much as she can about the cuisine. Lisa hopes to open an Asian influenced restaurant in New York in the years to come.

The 20 Most Outrageous Bravo Moments

Tonight (Monday, Feb 11) Bravo will be counting down their top 20 Most Outrageous Bravo Moments as voted on by the fans.  The show will cover Project Runway, Real Housewives of Orange County, Show Dogs Moms and Dads and you can bet there will plenty of Top Chef!

Will your favorite Top Chef clip make the Best Fight category?  Or maybe The Best Meltdown?

Will the communal head shavings make the cut?  Or the Pee on Marcel incident?  I’d bet money we’ll see, "I’m not your bitch, bitch!" 

Tune in tonight at 10:00 for the Top 20 Most Outrageous Bravo Moments and watch what’s happening!

Last Restaurant Standing: Episode 1

Last-Rest-Adwoa This week was the premiere of the new BBC America series, Last Restaurant Standing.  World renowned chef, Raymond Blanc offered nine couples the chance of a life time – an opportunity to own their own restaurant.  The couples include a pair of newlyweds, a mother and son duo, and a set of twins.  Some have catering and hotel management experience but none have ever run a restaurant or even cooked for more than a large gathering at home. 

They were set up to fail — an incredibly, they didn’t do all that bad.

My problem with the series lies in the set up of the competition.  After a very slow start, the couples were randomly given keys to empty restaurants all over the area.  One shell had a view of Buckingham Palace, another in an old monastery, some in the city and some way off the beaten track.  The couples were then given a budget and one week to decorate, staff, cook and book.  One week!  Why?  I would have preferred to see the first week devoted simply to decorating and coming up with a theme, the next on cooking, and finally on actual service.  Seeing what some of the couples did accomplish, I find it hard to believe they didn’t have some professional help from the series staff.

In the real world its unlikely that you would get a sign maker to design, build and install a sign inside of a week.  Dishes and linens have to be purchased and delivered and construction crews must have worked overtime to convert these dirty shells into lovely dining areas.

More like a documentary than a reality series, the show was edited to highlight the mistakes of some couples and the potential mistakes of others.  People were shown in tears and the stress threatened to break them — or did it?  Frankly, given the short time period and the pressure, most of the team mates were relatively calm and productive. 

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Introducing Top Chef Erik

Top-Chef-Erik Top Chef: Erik

AGE: 38

HOMETOWN: Chappaqua, N.Y. – currently resides in San Francisco, Calif.

PROFESSION: Executive Chef at Circa Restaurant


FAVORITE SPRING RECIPE: Spring lamb with fresh spring garlic

A third generation chef, Erik gets his love of cooking from his grandfather and mother, who are both chefs. He worked his way through the ranks of several New York City restaurants before becoming sous chef at Eros and then Tapas Lounge. He eventually tired of the cold and decided to move to California, where he now works as executive chef at Circa Restaurant in San Francisco. He says his favorite thing to cook is Circa’s popular pan-seared Chilean Sea Bass with wild chanterelle, truffles and caramelized leek ragout.

Raymond Blanc Talks Turkey

Raymond_Blanc "Owning a restaurant may look really sexy, but that wonderful image is deceptive and very different to the real world. The first lesson to learn is to balance your ideas with the reality. If your head is in the clouds your dream could easily crash down and become a nightmare and you will become one of the statistics."

Raymond Blanc arrived in Britain from France with "absolutely nothing" and he worked his way up to becoming one of the most respected chefs and restaurateurs in the world.

"My second piece of advice," says Blanc, "is to learn all the facets of this amazing world which means understanding your customers, becoming a good businessman and a good communicator, marketeer and trainer – turning your restaurant into an experience and, of course, learning how to be the perfect host. You must do your homework. Part of what also makes a great restaurant is consistency.

On top of that you need a good-natured philosophy on life to deal with the problems that arise out of these huge challenges, together with plenty of energy and stamina to deal with all the pitfalls you will encounter. It’s a constant balancing act. You need to be able to get back up and smile about what has happened and most importantly learn from it."

Raymond did all of his learning "on the job", starting out as a waiter at the Rose Revived Restaurant.  His lucky break came one day when the chef took ill and he was forced to take over the kitchen!  Nothing like a little pressure to get those potatoes boiling! 

In 1977 he put all of his savings and mortgaged his home to start his own restaurant Les Quat’ Saisons in Oxford alongside his first wife Jenny. Les Quat’ Saisons was an overnight success, winning him Egon Ronay Restaurant of the Year, prestigious Michelin stars and a host of other distinctions.

Years later, Blanc relocated the restaurant into a sumptuous country house in Great Milton.  Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons became a luxurious hotel and the restaurant is thriving. Now Blanc is lending his money and guidance to one lucky couple who will win the chance of a lifetime as part of Last Restaurant Standing.
"Opening a restaurant is one of the most popular start up businesses, everyone thinks they can do it. Likewise, our couples also think they know how to run a restaurant business, but most of them will soon realize how complex and tough it is. These inexperienced couples will be thrown in at the deep end as they go into an empty restaurant and in one week must open to the public; so they will have to learn fast."

Visit Raymond Blanc’s official website.

And catch a sneak peek of Last Restaurant Standing tonight at 9:00 on BBC America.

Meet Top Chef: Dale


Top Chef: Dale

AGE: 29

HOME TOWN: Chicago, Ill.

PROFESSION: Sous Chef at Buddakan

CULINARY EDUCATION: Culinary Institute Of America

FAVORITE SIMPLE SPRING RECIPE: Grilled matsutake mushrooms, shaved myoga, spicy truffled ponzu

Dale, a sous chef at Buddakan, one of New York’s hottest restaurants, was born and raised in Chicago, where he helped open the renowned restaurant Jean Georges Vong. In Chicago, Dale worked with distinguished chefs like Carrie Nahabedian and Shawn Mcclain. With his Filipino background, Dale focuses on Asian flavors. “I love the balance that Asian cuisine offers the salty, sweet, bitter and sour and the textures it provides for different experiences in every bite.” One of Dale’s kitchen favorites is a dry aged kobe rib eye. Dale says cooking meats is one of his favorite things to do in the kitchen and the technique that goes into properly searing and basting a rack of lamb or steak shows a lot of love. A motto that drives Dale is “expect perfection, because if you fall short your left with greatness.”

Rocco DiSpirito Guests on Biggest Loser


Biggest-Loser Top Chef guest chef and star of "The Restaurant" , Rocco DiSpirito will guest star on NBC’s hit weight loss series "The Biggest Loser: Couples" tonight, February 5 (8-10 p.m. ET).

Rocco will be judging a cook-of challenge that will have the losers preparing a tasty but low calorie three-course meal.

The teams will have to shop, then prepare an appetizer, entree, and desert under a strict time limit.  The team who delivers the best combination of taste vs calories will be declared the winner.  The prize will be a delicious meal prepared by Rocco himself and a special take-home surprise.

Learn more at The Biggest Loser official website.

A Chocolate Covered Weekend

chocolate_heart_1 This weekend, the Food Network is devoting their entire schedule to chocolate!  Personally, I couldn’t think of a better food to put in the spotlight.  Rich, dark, creamy, and oh so versatile!  How many foods do you know that you can use to make both a scale model of the Statue of Liberty?

On Saturday you’ll find all of your favorite Food Network stars working with chocolate.  Sandra Lee serves up a Chocolate Buffet, Paula Deen does Sexy Southern Chocolate (Camelized Brownies!) and Giada De Laurentiis serves up an unusual Chocolate-Hazelnut Ravioli.

In the evening, there’s a full line-up of chocolate-covered specials including Food Network Chocolate Fantasy Challenge and Chocolate Runway Challenge


On Sunday Tyler Florence makes his Gooey, Decadent Chocolate Cake while The Barefoot Contessa turns out sinfully delicious Chocolate Truffles.

In the evening it’s the Food Network Chocolate Landmark Challenge:

Challenge: Chocolate Landmarks
Four top pastry chefs design exact replicas of some of the world’s most famous landmarks entirely out of chocolate! The winner takes home $10,000.


Jorg Amsler
Owner, Truly Jorg’s Patisserie, Boston, Mass.

Jansen Chan
Pastry Chef, Oceana Restaurant, New York, N.Y.

Frtiz Knipschildt
Owner, Knipschildt Chocolatier LLC, Norwalk, Conn.

Bethany Thouin
Owner, The Cocoa Tree, Franklin, Tenn.

And check out Bethany Thouin’s blog for a little note on how she got into the competition!

Introducing Top Chef: Ryan

Top Chef: Ryan


Top-Chef-Ryan AGE: 28

HOMETOWN: Los Banos, Calif. – currently resides in San Francisco, Calif.

PROFESSION: Chef, Myth Cafe

CULINARY EDUCATION: Associate of Arts, California Culinary Academy

FAVORITE SIMPLE SPRING RECIPE: Chilled spring pea soup with Strauss yogurt and dill cucumbers
Ryan zeroed in on his desire to be a chef at the early age of nine when the “toys” at the top of his Christmas list included kitchen utensils, a wok and food dehydrator. Growing up in the Central Valley of California he developed a passion for the culinary arts that has led to a very successful career spanning both coasts. His talent for creating simple, healthy and delicious Mediterranean and French-influenced cuisine draws long lines and wide acclaim at Myth Café in San Francisco, where he has been chef since 2005. Ryan strongly believes in “giving back” as much as possible and works extensively with Bay Area community organizations. This fall, he led a team of over 30 volunteers in his first “Thanksgiving Bag Lunch Giveaway,” which involved creating 1,000 bag lunches – from scratch — for people in need.