Posts tagged ‘Bobby Flay’




New York City – The E.W. Scripps Company announced today that after 17 years in production their popular Food Network will cease programming at the end of this month. The move took many in assembly by surprise. The press conference was held at Chelsea Market on 75 9th Avenue, home of the Food Network Studios.

Milton Funderburk, Acting Assistant Vice-Chairman of Cable Programming for Scripps was asked why the media conglomerate was closing the doors on its most popular cable franchise, “The time is right. After all when we purchased TFN back in ‘97 we thought it would fail miserably. That was the plan.

“We acquired the Network as a tax right off. We never dreamed anyone would actually watch it. Our thought was why would anyone want to watch someone else cooking on TV? I mean if they wanted to see someone cook, they could just go cook something. Apparently we under estimated the American public’s desire to live vicariously.”



April 1, 2010 at 3:05 am

Cristeta Comerford: White House Executive Chef

The White House Executive Chef is in charge of all menus for the First Family as well as all official state functions.  Though the White House Executive Chef serves at the pleasure of the President of the United States, typically they work side-by-side with the first lady.

Walter Scheib III served at the post beginning in 1994 under President Bill Clinton.  President George W. Bush saw no reason to replace Chef Scheib and retained him until 2005 when he left to enjoy life as a celebrity chef.  He has since battled Iron Chef Cat Cora and published a book White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen.

To fill the void left by Chef Scheib’s departure, Laura Bush tabbed his talented assistant Cristeta Comerford to be the new White House Executive Chef making her the first woman and first minority to hold the title.  Mrs. Bush had reportedly been very impressed with Comerford’s handling of large State events.

Chef Comerford’s voyage into history began in the Philippines where she lived her first 23 years on earth.  Just prior to immigrating to the US, Comerford attended the University of the Philippines majoring in food technology.

Upon reaching the States, Comerford took a job in Chicago cooking for Sheraton Hotel and Resorts.  Since then she has worked in Washington DC, Vienna and for Hyatt Regency.  Her rise has been meteoric and deftly earned.

Apparently, new first lady Michelle Obama was also impressed as she retained Chef Comerford saying, “Cristeta Comerford brings such incredible talent to the White House operation and came very highly regarded from the Bush family,” in a statement released by the transition team.  Mrs. Obama is quite the foodie who has even started a White House Kitchen Garden.

On Sunday January 3rd. Chef Comerford joins Iron Chef Bobby Flay in Kitchen Stadium to battle the team of Iron Chef Mario Batali and culinary legend Emeril Legasse in the first Iron Chef: America of the new year.  Comerford’s boss, Michelle Obama will be in attendance.

December 29, 2009 at 5:29 pm 3 comments

Shades of Mexican Cuisine

From the soon-to-be released cookbook Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes from the Gulf of Mexico.

When most Americans venture into their local Mexican restaurant they are looking for that “authentic Mexican” flavor from south of the border.  Foods like crunchy tacos, fajitas, and good old chips and salsa come to mind when the typical American thinks of real Mexican food.  These, however, are not traditional Mexican foods.  They are the products of Anglo meddlings into a Latino/native American culture.  Most of the foods that we identify as Mexican are actually Tex-Mex.  They resulted from the post civil war migration of white Europeans into Texas.

So if what we call Mexican is really Tex-Mex then what is real Mexican like?  And what is the stuff that we call Tex-Mex?  And where does Southwestern Cuisine fit into all this?

All good questions.

Real, honest to goodness food from Mexico’s interior is a far cry from what we are accustomed to at the local Macho Taco.  Yes, there are tortillas and zesty sauces, but it is quite different.  The tortillas are made of corn not flour and they are much thicker than what we have grown accustomed to here in the States.  For the most part tortillas are silverware in interior Mexico.  The sauces are different as well, the bastardized marinaras give way to moles and pepianes, sauces that predate the ConquistadorsMoles are most often made by grinding dried chilies and unsweetened chocolate with other ingredients to form a thick paste.

Pepianes are similar but use ground pumpkinseeds for their base.  Ingredients are both familiar and peculiar.  Beef, pork, and chicken of course are prevalent as are turkey, lamb, and seafood.  Now it trips bizarre because goat, insects, and huitlacoche, a fungus that grows on corn, are also very popular ingredients.  There are no fried taco shells, no gooey cheddar cheese sauces, and no piles of nachos.  For a taste of real Mexico without the delay at customs try any of the Chicago restaurants owned by celebrity chef Rick Bayless.  No body does it better.

The next step is Tex-Mex.  From the end of the civil war on there has been a marriage Mexican and American foods thriving along the Texas/Mexico border.  It started with food carts in cities like Houston and San Antonio and is now nestled into every strip mall in the country.  Tex/Mex is also very popular in Europe and Asia.  It consists of most of the foods we associate when we think of Mexican food: fried tacos, fajitas, burritos, and such, and of course that scrumptious white cheese dip.  The classification Tex-Mex came from a book by food author Diana Kennedy called The Cuisines of Mexico back in 1972.  In her book Kennedy coined the phrase Tex-Mex to describe this Americanized version of Mexican cuisine.  At first the name was considered an insult to restaurant owners in Texas, but now it is the most popular regional cuisine in the nation.

As if we had not twisted Mexican food enough, now comes Gringo-Mex.  It is even more American than Tex-Mex.  Gone is the white cheese sauce and in its places comes cheddar, a cheese almost never seen in Mexico.  Gringo-Mex is a caricature of Mexican culture where all of the interesting parts are distorted for more effect.  The typical Gringo-Mex restaurant may be filled with palm trees and colorful sombreros, and they always have a cleverly named margarita like “top shelf”.  You know the ones – Chili’s, Don Pablos, et al.  It is basically Top 40 Mexican food as opposed to something more memorable.

If Gringo-Mex is Barbie doll pop music then Southwestern Cuisine is Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon.  Groundbreaking and innovative, Southwestern is wonderfully flamboyant. Southwestern Cuisine really came into its own in the nineties as classical European cooking techniques collided headlong with the bold flavors and wildness of the Desert Southwest. Born at the rustic Bed & Breakfast’s, resorts, and inns that dot the painted landscape of Arizona and Nevada, it is known for its common use of rich sauces and wild game.  Brooklyn-born chef Bobby Flay does Southwestern better than anyone and has taken it farther than anybody ever dreamed by incorporating some Caribbean influence to what is already an amazingly exotic cuisine.

The final stop on the Mexican cavalcade is Mexican/Creole Cuisine.  As I explored in my first cookbook, Amigeauxs – Mexican/Creole Cuisine, this latest form of Mexican blends perfectly with recipes and ingredients from the Louisiana bayou country.  One could say that these two culinary cousins are “amigeauxs.” Mexican/Creole Fusion is relatively new, but we are familiar with some recipes that might now fall under this classification, chiefly Creole Jambalaya (a variation of Paella) and the Mobile classic West Indies Salad, which one might describe as a Gulf Coast twist on a Mexican Ceviche.

There is no right or wrong way to eat the various types of Mexican food nor is anyone of them better than any of the others.  Whichever style you prefer is the best style.  Each of us has different likes and dislikes and I personally love them all.

December 27, 2009 at 7:10 am

Holiday Battle: Cora vs. Symon

After last week’s Flay vs. Morimoto Battle: Eggnog what can the Chairman have up his well tailored sleeve?

Well, it’s a battle between Cat Cora and Michael Symon. A contest between the first female Iron Chef (Cora) and the first Next Iron Chef winner (Symon) certainly sounds like fun. I love to watch Symon cook and I love to watch Cat do anything.

The guest judges for tonight include a singer, an actress and a chocolatier as the legendary Patti LeBelle, Tony Award winner Cady Huffman and one of the great pastry chefs in the world, François Payard are on hand.  Hmm, two ladies and a pastry chef.  Could the theme ingredient be another sweet holiday treat?  Perhaps Symon can unleash his chocolate covered bacon again.

December 6, 2009 at 4:09 pm 1 comment

$10 Dinners with Melissa d’Arabian gets 2nd Season

NFNS 5 winner Melissa d’Arabian has posted on her Facebook page that $10 Dinners has been renewed for a second season and that she is currently working on the new episodes.  The message reads:

Ten Dollar Dinners renewed for Season Two!! All new episodes in January. In the meantime, stay close here….I’m still around. Happy Fall everyone!
She also commented on how her life has changed since edging out Jeffrey Saad, “A year ago, I stood in line for hours at Williams Sonoma to get Bobby Flay’s signature in his new book. In half an hour, I’m walking over to do a joint cooking demo with him….the two of us cooking for an audience at the New York Food and Wine Festival. how crazy is my life suddenly????!! :)”

October 12, 2009 at 9:20 am 1 comment

Diary of a Wannabe TV Chef Part 11

Originally posted at Edible TV on September 30, 2009.

This is the latest installment in a continuing series that documents my personal quest to become the host of my own cooking show. Since this is a relatively new “career,” there are no vocational programs or community college courses to prepare me for it. From what I have seen, the two most important elements in securing such a position are passion for food and plain old dumb luck. Born with a passion for food, I set out to make my own luck.

It’s Always Darkest Right Before It Goes Pitch Black

Wow!  Life is great.  I am actually making money writing about food and travel.  Notoriety?  Yep, I’ve got some of that, too.  I’ve just published an interview with Food Network star Bobby Flay and my series on tailgating (Saturdays in the South) has created a bit of a buzz here in college football obsessed Alabama.

After a night out on the town with a co-worker I pop into a 24-hour eatery to scarf down some horribly un-healthy food.  Nachos at 2AM anyone?  I pass a table of drunken foodies who are discussing the upcoming visit of Bobby Flay to the Port City.  I’m not sure exactly how but I got pulled into the conversation but one point someone asks me if I have read the interview with Flay in ‘Zalea magazine?

I wake up one day to find a voice message from my editor that asks me to call the magazine when I get a chance.  I’m pumped because the last time I had a message like that it was to tell me that I was interviewing an Iron Chef.  We have been efforting the great Emeril Legasse who had just opened a restaurant in nearby Gulfport, Mississippi.  Could it be?  Or maybe Alton Brown perhaps?  His show Feasting on Asphalt 2 was taped right here in the heart of Katrina Country.

The recession really hadn’t been recognized as such yet but it was about to hinder my goals for the second time in less than a year.  The newspaper that was the parent company of the two periodicals I wrote for was shutting down production on the weekly rag and cutting out freelance on the remaining monthly magazine.  Once again, I was out of a job.

To make matters worse, the part-time gig I had waiting tables at a cheesy Italian chain restaurant was now my lone source of income.  Big national chains are the scourge of the restaurant industry.  They are a menace to locally owned restaurants, shamelessly enslave their employees and quite literally poison their customers all in the pursuit of the almighty buck.  And now, through no fault of my own I was forced to prostitute myself at one of these denizens of culinary corruption.

At least I have a potential cooking show in the works. . . right?

October 1, 2009 at 7:29 am

Diary of a Wannabe TV Chef Part 10

Originally published on Well Fed on August 20, 2009.

This is the latest installment in a continuing series that documents my personal quest to become the host of my own cooking show. Since this is a relatively new “career,” there are no vocational programs or community college courses to prepare me for it. From what I have seen, the two most important elements in securing such a position are passion for food and plain old dumb luck. Born with a passion for food, I set out to make my own luck.

Big Timin’ It

Since I began actually writing about food for a living, my life has been going well. Not only am I making seven and a half times as much per article with Current than I made for that first one published by Lagniappe, but the food editor for the latter has begun to mimic my style. My work, it seems, has created a buzz as the cuisine articles are what’s driving the success of both ‘Zalea and Current.

One summer day I get a call from ‘Zalea’s editor. Two appearances have been booked for October featuring cooking demonstrations from Food Network Chef Bobby Flay. The magazine is a sponsor of the event and, therefore, has been granted an interview with the Iron Chef to help promote the event plus his latest publication, The Mesa Grill Cookbook. I have been picked to conduct the interview.

Meanwhile, the meeting with the production company went well. Over wings and beer I meet the other members of Wade’s team. We hash out our different ideas for a cooking show called Coastal Cuisine and we are all on the same page as far as concept. The only thing standing in our way is financing. We need advertisers.

Each of us sets out to make contact with potential advertisers, something that is easy for me since I am already traveling the area talking to winery owners, chefs and shopkeepers anyway. If I feel the potential for selling advertising for the show, I get the contact information to Wade; he’s the money man. The wheels may be moving slowly but they are moving.

Finally the day approaches for the interview with Chef Flay. Because of my history in the entertainment industry, I am never phased when I get around famous people from that world. I performed publicly for the first time when I was five. Had the lead role in a play when I was 10 and have done a smattering of TV over the years. I’ve shared the stage with some of New Orleans’ legends and gotten a standing ovation at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville. I’m in my element around entertainers. World class chefs, on the other hand, are a different matter.

Bobby Flay is a very influential chef and I count myself among the influenced. His bold style when it comes to the spicy flavors of the Southwest speaks to my natural tendency towards foods with strong, accretive flavors. I have long admired his blend of simple proteins and complex sauces. I guess it can be said that he presents his New World creations with a French accent.

There is also the public image to contend with. Flay has long been labeled arrogant and intense, a typical cocky New Yorker. Not a New Yorker in the way that Rachael Ray or Mario Batali are New Yorkers, people who’ve moved to the city and adapted. No, Flay was born in Gotham and has lived virtually his entire life there. And I am a food writer from Mobile, Alabama who has learned the bulk of his food knowledge from watching TV chefs like Bobby Flay.

A wave of anticipation rushes over me as the world’s most famous area code appears on my cell phone. I answer and hear a woman‘s voice, “Chef Bobby Flay for Stuart Donald.”

“This is Stuart.” I reply.

“One moment.”

“This is Bobby.”

August 22, 2009 at 12:10 pm

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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."


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