Art Smith

ICA: Garces vs. Weitzman

garces banner ICA: Garces vs Becker

Iron Chef Jose Garces faces off against challenger Rebecca Weitzman. Chef Weitzman is the executive chef at Redwood Kitchenette in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. The judges for Battle: Silkie Chicken are Karine Bakhoum, Art Smith, and Julie White.

Chef Rebecca WeitzmanChef Weitzman grew up just outside of Boston but has made her bones working in some of the most well respected kitchens in the Big Apple.  That includes time spent working for chef Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill, Bolo and Bar Americain as well as ‘inoteca Restaurant.  Pedigreed toque Rebecca Weitzman made her name thrilling Park Slopers with locavore plates at Thistle Hill Tavern (where she is still partner, though no longer head chef). After a brief stint at gourmand movie-theater café Indie Food and Wine, the CIA grad has turned up at the cheery Chelsea diner, sporting redwood paneling, U-shaped teal banquettes and a blown-up vintage photo of a trailer amid crisp fall foliage, plus an actual shiny Airstream trailer retrofitted to serve as a bar.

If Chef Rebecca looks familiar to Food Network viewers it’s because she competed on Chopped back in 2010 on an episode called “First Things Worst.”  There she took home the win making a dessert that included baby bananas, coconut flakes, pumpernickel rye and soy sauce.  Hopefully that experience will translate into a solid performance in Kitchen Stadium but it won’t be easy as Iron Chef Jose Garces will be waiting.

Check below for the outcome.

9999 ICA: Garces vs Becker

Garces Weitzman
Taste 27 22
Plating 15 12
Originality 15 11
Total 57 45

ICA: Zakarian vs. Schenker

zacbanner ICA: Zakarian vs. FerraroIron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian faces off against chef Jesse Schenker, chef and owner of Recette in New York. Judges are Julie White, Art Smith and Anya Fernald.

Jesse SchenkerChef Jesse Schenker manipulates ingredients and temperature to create maximum flavor.   He went for his Culinary Degree at the Atlantic Technical Center in Coconut Creek, Fla. During that time, he gained his first professional kitchen experience at Cafe Maxx, guided by Chef Oliver Saucy. From there, he became the Chef de Partie at Chef Mark Militello’s James Beard award-winning restaurant, Mark’s on Las Olas and then onto Sous Chef at Fort Lauderdale’s celebrated Italian restaurant Rino’s Restaurante.

With experience under his belt, Jesse moved to Miami to become Sous Chef at the upscale wine bar, City Cellar Wine Bar and Grille.  After wowing the best culinary cities of Florida, it was time to take on the challenge of wowing foodies in the Big Apple. Jesse was offered a position as Chef de Partie at the two-Michelin-star rated Gordon Ramsay at the London.  He launched his own venture, Recette Private Dining and teamed up with Savoy Bakery owner Brian Ghaw and Per Se pastry alum Christina Lee, and created up to ten-course tasting menus for exclusive private parties.

Chef Schenker is a talented chef but so is the newest Iron Chef.  The Technician is sure to be ready for the challenge in Battle: Plantains.

Check below for the outcome.

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Zakarian Schenker
Taste 25 25
Plating 13 14
Originality 14 14
Total 52 53

ICA: Zakarian vs. Casanova

Iron Chef America

In his debut battle, Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian takes on Challenger Chef Victor Casanova. Judges are Karine Bakhoum, Art Smith and Jill Zarin. Chef Casanova is Executive Chef at Culina, an Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills.

Victor CasanovaOver the years, Victor Casanova trained and developed his craft in some of the country’s best restaurants. Fresh out of culinary school, Casanova honed his skills at celebrated establishments such as the French-American DB Bistro Moderne and the American Gramercy Tavern. He was sous-chef at New York’s Ocean Grill and Las Vegas’ Neros at Caesars Palace and spent four years at Buca Giovanni in San Francisco, where he designed a boutique all-Italian wine list while executing a daily farmers’ market menu. He commenced his Italian training with Chef Casare Casella at New York’s renowned Beppe, then advanced it further under Chef Scott Conant at the chic, Northern Italy-influenced Alto.

After his salad days and a whirlwind culinary tour through the Big Apple, Casanova headed west to claim the post of chef de cuisine of Il Terrazzo in Scottsdale’s Phoenician Resort, where he quickly earned rave reviews. So, what’s his secret? Fuggedaboudit, he’ll never tell.

Casanova’s ongoing love affair with Italian food was ignited by Casella at Beppe, where he learned the spirit of the authentic Italian kitchen, an equally authentic passion for cooking and the flavourful secrets of Tuscan cuisine. Most of all, as Casanova conveys on each and every plate at Culina, Italian fare is only as good as the ingredients that go into it. This emphasis on seasonality, quality, simplicity and passion infuses the philosophy he brings to Culina, Modern Italian.

Chef Victor Casanova gets the honor of facing the newest Iron Chef, Geoffrey Zakarian, making his debut in Battle: Brook Trout.  In Zakarian’s corner is quite the sous chef, none other than Alex Guarnaschelli.

Check below for the outcome.

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Zakarian            Casanova
Taste: 30                Taste: 26
Plating: 15              Plating: 14
Originality: 15        Originality: 13
Total: 60                 Total: 53

Revamped: BBQ Pitmasters Season 2

According to TLC’s web site the new season of BBQ Pitmasters will have little resemblance to it’s inaugural season.  In season one, Pitmasters followed the nation’s top meat smokers on the ultra competitive Kansas City BBQ circuit.  This year, well …

“The competition to become a Pitmaster just got more heated. BBQ Pitmasters is back with a whole new look and whole new format. The show now pits teams against each other in a series of challenges – all under fire to win the title of BBQ Pitmaster. The teams will have to impress an expert panel of judges who will pick apart each contestant as they vie for the grand prize.”

Myron Mixon on WannabeTVchef.comJudges for season two include season one break out star Myron Mixon.  Myron never met a a rib he didn’t think was inferior to his own.  Mixon made his mark on season one by being very critical of his competitors and the judges.  He was very critical of everything really except his own BBQ and his wife who it was clear from candid footage is the light of his life.  Myron is opinionated, foul mouthed and one of the foremost experts in the world on traditional American BBQ.

Warren Sapp on WannabeTVchef.comWarren Sapp is a hall of fame football player.  He has also proven he can dance (sort of).  But what Warren really excels at is eating.  Sapp won a National Championship with the Miami Hurricanes where he played on a star studded team that included linebacker Ray Lewis.  In the NFL, Sapp was the cornerstone of the legendary Tampa defense that brought the city it’s lone Super Bowl victory.  If there is anyone better suited to set Mixon straight I’d like to know who it is?

Art Smith on WannabeTVchef.comThe final judge is cheflebrity Art Smith.  Art has been a contestant on Top Chef: Masters and a judge on Iron Chef.  He has cooked for Presidents, governors and foreign dignitaries.  He also authored the award winning cookbooks Back to the Table and Kitchen Life (both available at amazon). But Smith is best known for having been Oprah’s personal chef.  Clearly Smith has the culinary acumen but the question is if his Truman Capote-esque persona can stand up to the machismo of the other two judges.  That may be the dynamic that makes this show stand out.

So will the new format attract more viewers or alienate the established, predominately male fan base?  The new season of the revamped BBQ Pitmasters premieres on Thursday August 12th at 10/9 Central on TLC.

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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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