Bal Arneson

Review: Indian Food Made Easy

I finally got a little more quality time with the Cooking Channel so I am attempting to review several of the shows I have not seen yet.  This time around Indian Food Made Easy.

Last summer I reviewed the other Indian cuisine show on the Cooking Channel, Spice Goddess with Bal Arneson (HERE) and Food Network Star winner Aarti Sequeira’s TV adaptation of her long running web series Aaarti Party (HERE) for the big network.  I was impressed with how each weaved Indian flavors in to more Westerns menus.

Indian Everyday by Anjum AnandAnjum Anand does no such thing on Indian Food Made Easy.  Her recipes are purely Indian.  According to the Cooking Channel web site, “Food writer and chef Anjum Anand is passionate about Indian cooking, and she is on a mission to show exactly how simple it is to cook delicious, healthy Indian food at home.”

Like Spice Goddess this show is another outsourced venture, this time from the BBC.  It falls into exactly what you expect from British cooking shows a pleasant, knowledgeable host, a kitschy style, mediocre cinematography, muted colors but all-and-all a good viewing experience (think everything you’ve seen from Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson).

I find that I enjoy watching Anjum Anand a little better than Bal Arneson but not quite as much as Aarti Sequeira.  Like Arneson she is a very successful cookbook author with four books to her credit, including the partner book to the TV series conspicuously entitled Indian Food Made Easy (available at amazon).  I appreciate how Anjum takes the viewer outside of the kitchen and actually instructs them on the various spices used in Indian cuisine by visiting markets and specialty shops.  Again this is another common element of a BBC show.

If you are interested in Indian food but have found it intimidating than this is a good show to walk you through masala mine field.  Indian Food Made Easy airs Sundays at 1pm ET on the Cooking Channel.

ICA: Garces vs Solomonov – Outcome

NewICAHeader ICA: Forgione vs Cantrel   Outcome

SPOILER ALERT: The following information is the outcome of Garces vs Solomonov. If you want information on the combatants click HERE. If you are only interested in the outcome read on.

There were four judges for Battle: Passion Fruit – Michael Ruhlman, Bal Arneson, John Curtas and Lee Schrager.

Garces                          Solomonov
Taste: 37                      Taste: 30
Plating: 18                    Plating:  16
Originality: 20               Originality: 13
Total: 75                       Total: 59

Next time Jose Garces vs. Julian Medina.

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ICA: Garces vs Solomonov

NewICAHeader ICA: Forgione vs Cantrel

Well season 9 is in full swing now and the battles just keep getting better.  This week Chef Michael Solomonov ventures into Kitchen Stadium to battle Iron Chef Jose Garces.  I wonder what the Chairman has up his sleeve for this one?

Chef Michael Solomonov was born in Isreal but now lives in Garces’ hometown of Philadelphia.  So I guess this is a brotherly love smack down.  What are the chances the secret ingredient is cheese steak?  Probably not.

Michael SolomonovSolomonov has quite the resume.  He is a graduate of the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach.  After working at various well respected restaurants around the country he found himself a sous chef at Vetri who’s owner Marc Vetri just tasted victory in Kitchen Stadium a few months ago himself.  After that he was the executive chef at Marigold Kitchen, a BYOB eatery in West Philly.  Recently Esquire Magazine named Solomonov’s Zahav one of the top 20 new restaurants in the nation.

In addition to heading the kitchen at Zahav, Solomonov also oversees two other restaurants Xochitl and Percy Street Barbecue as part of the Cook + Solo Restaurant Group that he started with friend and fellow chef Steven Cook.  While Zahav features cuisine from Solomonov’s homeland of Israel,  Xochitl is known for modern Mexican food. Percy Street Barbecue speaks for itself.

There were four judges for Battle: Passion Fruit – Michael Ruhlman, Bal Arneson, John Curtas and Lee Schrager.

Click HERE for the outcome.

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Review: Spice Goddess

I finally got a little quality time with the Cooking Channel so I am attempting to review several of the shows I have not seen.  This time around Spice Goddess.

Bal Arneson on WannabeTVchef.comThe first thing that jumps out at me watching Bal Arneson is just how hard to understand I find her.  It’s her accent I believe.  She routinely puts the emphasis on the wrong syllable and it is distracting.  I’ve not had problems with Indian accents on other cooking shows so I am guessing that it is something unique to her or the village she grew up in.  She does has a very warm smile that makes you receptive to her entering your home.  As a writer, Arneson is the author of the nationally bestselling cookbook, Everyday Indian (available at amazon.com) as well as being the National Post-The Appetizer’s West Coast culinary correspondent.

The production quality on Spice Goddess is hit or miss.  The cinematography is nice but a little poorly lit at times.  The editing on the other hand leaves something to be desired.  Some transitions are too abrupt giving the show a slightly amateurish feel.  The style is consistent with what I have seen from a lot of BBC cooking shows which tend to have great images of ladies suckling strawberries and vegetables sizzling in a pan but also have very choppy editing.

My main issue with Spice Goddess is the title which implies a show where the host introduces the viewer to spices from all over the world and from varying cuisines.  Surely Indian cuisine is famous for it’s use of spices but there are lots of other cultures just as renowned for their use.  The show’s name is inconsistent with its culinary point of view; it’s misleading.  This is a show strictly about Indian cuisine and I do enjoy how Arneson applies Indian flavors to non-Indian ingredients like salmon and sweet potatoes.  I am anxious to see how it stacks up against the Cooking Channel’s other Indian themed show, Indian Food Made Easy with Anjum Anand.  Spice Goddess is definitely worth a watch.

I do wonder, with two Indian cuisine shows on the Cooking Channel and possibly another resulting from NFNS 6 on the Food Network, is Bob Tuschman going overboard with a cuisine that most Americans still find unappealing?  Only time will tell.

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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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