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From Chef to Celebrity Chef

Stuart Reb Donald cica 1989Years ago I was working a nondescript job for one of those big American corporations where individuality and creativity are frowned upon.  It was a demoralizing job for anyone but I especially hated it.  You see I am a creative person, always have been.  I earned college scholarships in both music and drama.  Most of my professional life had been spent in music and music’s better paying cousin “restaurant work.”

In my life I have also worked as a rhythm guitar player, jazz trombonist, pet store clerk, paintball referee, campus cop, web designer and rental car agent.  But I had always done well in food service having held every position from dish washer to general manager.  Everything, that is but a chef.

So for some reason seven years ago my subconscious mind sent me a message via the dream world, “Be a chef.  And not just a chef either, one of those chefs on TV.”  In the dream I had started a web site called Wannabe TV Chef where I posted my writings about food, shared my cooking videos and shamelessly pursued celebrity chef status.  The next day I registered the domain name.

Stuart Reb Donald todaySince then I have made pretty good progress.  I have published two cookbooks, written hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines and online media, worked as a sous chef at a high-end steak house and at a catering company, I have been the executive chef of a neighborhood restaurant, failed to win multiple cooking contests and I have even made a handful of TV appearances.

Some of those food articles have been interviews with the likes of Bobby Flay, Ted Allen and Michael Symon – all Food Network stars.  Among my cell phone contacts you can find the numbers for producers with Oprah, Tyra Banks, ABC News and a couple of people with the Food Network.  I’m on a first name basis with Average Betty – I call her Av she call’s me Wanna.

I’m not bragging, mind you.  I’m just pointing out that I’m about as famous as a person can be and still not have anyone know who he is.  That is bound to change and when it does you can honestly tell people, “I remember when he was just a food blogger; he sucked then, too.”

next food blog starBut before you can brag that you “knew me when . . .” you have to help me get famous first.  That’s why I have entered the Foodbuzz “Next Food Blog Star” Contest.  A premium gig like that is just what the doctor ordered.

Food TV Baffles Me Sometimes

Originally posted on July 25, 2008.

Hello, I am Stuart, and I’m a foodie.

Where do I start?

Last week’s Iron Chef: America:  I have been blogging this show for quite some time now and I have never seen any challenger capture the imagination of the public like Gabrielle Hamilton.  The hits I get on her are amazing.  I hope TFN is paying attention, they may have accidentally found the Next Food Network Star.  And Bobby Flay’s sous chef Renee ain’t bad either.  I should know I thought five years ago that Anne Burrell needs her own show.  Are you listening Tuschman?  I got the sight.

Which now brings me to all of the turmoil of NFNS:  Fixed!  Aaron had one of the worst performances of anyone in the history of the show last week and now (thanks to a network blunder) we know that he is the winner.  Fixed!  Well, actually Mary Nolan was the real winner.  Fixed!  She got a show and didn’t even have to compete.  And oddly enough Kelsey Nixon, the brightest face to come on the network in a while got axed (presumably to make sure Aaron would win).  Fixed!

SARCASM ALERT: But TFN was on to something with Mary Nolan.  My stats on her are off the chart.  She’s a solid fit for the network, but apparently a lot of you love her.  I like her, she’s nice, but Kelsey has star (Rachael Ray cross-over star) written all over her.  Instead of calling Aaron McCargo’s new show Big Daddy’s House they should call it One And Done.  Out of the ten chefs they had to choose from they went with the guy who was horrible on camera.  No wonder the winner’s show never gets picked up for a second season.  Except for Guy Fieri.  I see why Top Chef and Hell’s Kitchen smoke NFNS in the ratings.  Sure they are just shows about people screaming and there is little actual cooking to them but you at least feel that they find the best person in the end.

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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

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
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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