If you can’t stand the heat … get out of the kitchen
I once proudly boasted that I had never watched an entire episode of any reality TV show ” not American Idol, Survivor, Fear Factor or any other inane competition. I can’t name the finalists in this season of “Idol” (although I do know who Simon Cowell is), I could care less which island some group of people is supposedly stranded on, and the only dancing with the stars I’ve seen is in my dreams starring Johnny Depp.
But after years of resisting, one show has made me succumb to the reality madness.
“The Next Food Network Star,” aired on, obviously, the Food Network, is not your average staged reality show. The “stars” are top chefs and food personalities (Emeril, Mario Batali, etc.) and the contestants are prospective new Food Network chefs. The winner gets his or her own series on Food Network. Last year, Dan and Steve won, and their “Party Line with the Hearty Boys” airs Sunday mornings.
The contestants have to learn how to read lines on the script TV while looking into the camera, how to do “switch-outs” (switching the uncooked recipe with a precooked one in the set kitchen’s oven), and how to endear themselves to viewers. They also get tips from established Food Network stars, such as Paula Dean, Bobby Flay and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto (whose lessons on knife skills would make a Benihana cook blush).
The best part of “The Next Food Network Star” is when the wanna-be chefs have to face certain challenges. What do you do when you’re on air and the set kitchen isn’t fully equipped with everything you need? What if the lights flicker on and off, or other things go wrong? The secret is ingenuity (one person, faced with a faulty blender, decided to modify his soup recipe from a puree to a regular soup).
Timing, new ideas and filling the camera are all key in staying alive. Some people just don’t have what it takes to be a TV chef. One of the recently eliminated contestants, Nathan, was way too cocky. He was always saying how he was “Gonna win this” and acted like he was above everyone else. Another girl, Beth, was too quiet and mousy, while Andy was like the quiet, nice guy who was always overlooked in high school.
Personally, I was rooting for Carissa, a pretty, high-energy girl who was down to earth. She was just fun, plus all of the foods she made sounded delicious (she was aiming for a French-themed show). Unfortunately, as of last week, she’s out.
I never thought I’d be one to like a reality show, let alone follow it diligently. But “The Next Food Network Star” has sucked me in. Other cooking-based reality shows, such as “Celebrity Chef Cook-Off” and “Top Chef” don’t cut it for me. Maybe it’s the people, maybe it’s the subject, or maybe it’s because I can fantasize about my own cooking show (I can see it now: “How to Cook in a Kitchen the Size of a Closet.”)
Whatever the draw is, you can be sure I was there for the finale Sunday.
And maybe I’ll be a contestant next season. …
Gabrielle Devenish is the food editor at the Post Independent. She can sing just as horribly as any contestant on “American Idol.” Contact her at (970) 945-8515, ext 535, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 red onions, chopped
3 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup white wine
2 teaspoons sea salt
4 fresh artichokes
Heat oil in a medium stock pot that all 4 artichokes can sit in without being able to roll over. Add onions and cook until translucent, then add garlic. Reduce heat to medium, to keep garlic from burning. Once garlic and onions are cooked, deglaze pot with white wine. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together.
Cut stems off artichokes, leaving 3⁄4-inch on bottom. If tops of artichokes have big thorns remove with scissors. Add artichokes to stock pot ensuring that they do not roll over on their sides.
Fill stock pot with water with 2 inches of the artichoke out of the water. Boil the mixture, covered, for approximately 20 minutes or until a center leaf is removable by tongs.
When done, remove, let cool briefly and serve with mayonnaise or aioli of choice. Serves 4.
Tequila Turkey Fettuccini
1 ounce olive oil
1⁄4 red onion, cut into strips
1⁄2 tablespoon minced jalapeno
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5 ounces turkey breast, cooked, sliced
1 ounce tequila
4 ounces heavy cream
1⁄2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
9 ounces fettuccini pasta, cooked
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 lime wedges, for garnish
2 sprigs cilantro, for garnish
2 tablespoons diced tomato, for garnish
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In saute pan with high heat, add olive oil, onions, jalapeno and saute until translucent. Add garlic and continue to saute for 2 minutes. Add turkey and lightly mix ingredients, being careful not to break turkey up to much.
Deglaze pan with tequila, pouring around the edge of the saute pan. Add cream, lemon juice and cilantro. Toss together, then add pasta, and toss ingredients while adding Parmesan cheese.
Nest pasta on plate, pour sauce over pasta. Lay sprigs of cilantro over top, sprinkle tomatoes on top, and crack pepper around the rim of the plate. Serves 1.
Breath Mint Pie
6 ounces butter
6 cups chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs
1⁄2 gallon mint chip ice cream
1 pound mint candy, frozen
(recommended: Junior Mints)
1 cup whipped cream, garnish
1 cup chocolate sauce, garnish
12 mint sprigs, garnish
In saute pan heat butter on medium heat. Add cookie crumbs and mix until butter is evenly distributed.
Line a half sheet pan with plastic wrap, and cover the bottom of the pan with half of the crumb mixture.
In mixer on lowest speed add ice cream and mint candy. Slowly mix together, trying not to break the mints open.
Pour the mixture onto the cookie crumbs and gently spread throughout pan, trying not to break the crumb base. Once evenly distributed, add remaining cookie crumb mixture, cover with plastic wrap and refreeze.
Cut into 12 triangular pieces, garnish with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and mint sprig. Serves 12.
Recipes courtesy Guy Fieri, winner of the “The Next Food Network Star”
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