Part 14: New Chef in Town

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.

New Chef in Town

Roughly a month after I am hired as the executive chef at Mars Hill the church that owns the cafe brings in a new general manager to oversee the operations.  That’s a load off my shoulders.  The FOH manager is a great guy who works hard but doesn’t have management in his blood.  He’s not comfortable being the bad guy.  The new GM is perfectly happy being the bad guy if needed.  With a new management team in place we were ready to resurrect this noble enterprise.

My job was revamping the menu.  I had to make flavorful food that was “wholesome and healthy” and have it out the window in 10 minutes.  Well there is nothing healthy about pasta Alfredo plus it took way more than 10 minutes to prepare.  Gone.  The jerk yellow fin tuna wrap with mango salsa?  Though delicious it was hardly ever ordered and therefore led to a lot of spoilage.  Gone.  The sweet potato hash brown – oh yeah, those were staying.  Also gone was the nastiest potato salad ever.  Not gone (but should have been) was the nastiest chicken salad ever; it was the one recipe I was forbade to alter.

In just a few weeks the word was out that the food was faster and tastier so people began to notice oft forgotten Mars Hill Cafe once again.  Word of mouth is great stuff, press is even better.  One day the general manager informed me that the local food editor was coming in to do a story on the cafe’s turnaround and mission.  He also informed me that one of the local TV stations wanted me on to demonstrate a dish or two.

That’s right, I was being asked to cook on TV.  And here it is, my first ever appearance as a TV chef:

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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