Bobby Flat

Las Paletas on Throwdown

Originally posted on August 13, 2008.

Tonight Bobby Flay was in my old stopping grounds of Nashville, TN for a frigid Throwdown.  Paletas is the Spanish word for ice pops.  Las Paletas specializes in these frozen treats and is owned by sisters Irma and Norma Paz.  I once asked Bobby what his guilty pleasure was and said, “Ice cream.”  Talk about having your Paletas and eating it too.

Las Paletas on WannabeTVchef.comAlthough Las Paletas wasn’t there when I lived in Nashvegas I know exactly where it its.  I used to work at a bakery right across the street and some good friends of mine used to live about two blocks away.  It is in one of those neighborhoods that was being rescued from the drug dealers and prostitutes.  The reclamation was well under way when I moved ten years ago so I can only imagine that the neighborhood is glorious now.  The episode was filmed at Fido in nearby Hillsboro Village which seperates the glitz of Music Row from the pomp of Vanderbilt University.

Las Paletas is all the rage in Music City these days.  Here are a few reviews I found:

  • There should be a 12-step program for those of us recovering from Las Paletas addictions. I’m not sure how I lived here nearly five years and never found this place until I recently drove by and noticed the quirky architecture of the building that houses Las Paletas. The building gives you an idea of what you’re in for once you go in because these are no ordinary popsicles. They are amazingly fresh, and the assortment of flavors can be mind-bogglingly strange but wonderful. All of my experiences at Las Paletas have been great.
  • You just don’t find a better popsicle. Period. Whether it’s traditional cookies n’ cream or the exotic Chocolate Wasabi, it’s all good! And at just $2.50 a pop, who can resist? Seriously, awesome. Period.
  • My boyfriend swears by the hibiscus and the Mexican caramel; I prefer the basil and mixed berry varieties. And all of the fruit pops are light, delicate, and delicious, with big chunks of fresh fruit.

So the next time business or leisure takes you to Nashville venture a little south of town and visit the sisters at Las Paletas Gourmet Popsicles at 2907 12th Ave S.  They’re good enough to take Bobby Flay in a Throwdown.

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.

ICA: Cora Vs. Ballesteros

After a week off, Food Network brings us a new Iron Chef: America as Chef Julieta Ballesteros clashes with Iron Chef Cat Cora in the halls of Kitchen Stadium.  It should be interesting with upscale Mexican going up against Greek Cuisine with a Southern accent.  Enjoy Battle: Ricotta!

Chef Julieta Ballesteros is a true original.  Hailing from Mexico and toting a degree from the French Culinary Institute, Chef Julieta has put a signature spin on traditional Mexican cuisine.  Ballesteros combines her Latin flavors and French technique to produce Mexican food that is both innovative and classical at the same time.

Shortly before graduation from CFI, Ballesteros was named the chef of Mexicana Mama, a tiny eatery in Greenwich Village.  It didn’t take long for her big flavors to shine as glowing reviews came in from the likes of Frank Bruni and Gael Greene.  Soon Ballesteros’ star outgrew Mexicana Mama and she headed to Chelsea.

Chef Julieta is the chef/owner of Crema Restaurante which is described as, “a higher concept of Mexican Cuisine.”  The accolades continue with eater.com proclaiming, “Makes you want to celebrate” and New Yorker says Creama is “Uniformly Excellent”.  The New York Times calls Ballesteros, “A chef to watch.”

In a convenient coincidence this episode is scheduled to air just two days after Iron Chef Cat Cora made headlines with a statement about the Mississippi Prom Controversy.  Cat, an open lesbian, voiced her support for Constance McMillen and her wish to take her girlfriend to prom.

Judges included actress Claudia Bassols (Spain: On The Road Again), Nina Griscom and a noticeably thinner Karine Bakhoum (KB Network News).

For the outcome click HERE.

Is Bobby Flay the Greatest Iron Chef?

Originally posted June 10, 2008.

Two weekends ago I warmed up for the new batch of Iron Chef America episodes by watching the ICA: Battle of the Masters mini-marathon on Food Network on Saturday. Those first ICA’s featured Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, and Wolfgang Puck. Flay competed in two of the three Masters episodes and won in both over the grand poobah of Iron Chefs, French master Hiroyuki Sakai. The first match was mano-e-mano with both chefs bringing their A games. Thinking back it occurs to me that both Flay and Sakai offered five dishes each that were absolute home runs. Honestly, all ten dishes were equally genius. In the second Flay/Sakai battle it was a mismatched tag team battle with Flay teaming with Morimoto and Sakai with Batali.

Having watched Flay school the dean of the Japanese IC, I prepared for the first new ICA episode, Flay versus Chef Bob Iacovone of restaurant Cuvée in New Orleans. The theme ingredient was languostine, a spectacular shellfish popular in Europe. Languostine are incredibly delicate and sweet. Flay remarked that the biggest challenge was in restraining himself from over pouring the languostine. Iacovone did not do as well at respecting the secret ingredient as the judges repeatedly remarked that they could not taste languostine in his otherwise inspired dishes. It was clear after hearing the judges’ comments to the challenger that Flay had won before his food was even tasted.

That ICA was followed by a special one-hour Throwdown in which Bobby rematched three former Throwdown competitors in Miami. This show was fascinating as you viewed the opulent hotel suite shared by the three competitors and the various twists that TFN threw at them like having them dress for a fancy dinner on a veranda and then showing up with raw steak and shrimp and a charcoal grill that they had to assemble before using. During this Throwdown something happened that many have been waiting for, Bobby got challenged to a Throwdown by yet another former challenger. The voting was close and had to go to a tie-breaker with Bobby just edging out the self-proclaimed Dream Team.

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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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