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Review: Master Chef Cookbook

MasterChef CookbookThe hot-off-the-presses MasterChef Cookbook is striking the first time you look at it.  It’s satiny metallic cover embossed with the MasterChef logo is almost intimidating.  Looking at it I was left with the impression that it might open up at any moment to reveal a bright red spandex suit that would give me super powers.

The book contains recipes from each of the 14 finalists plus a contributions from hosts Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot Bowles.  Glaringly absent from the book is Chef Gordon Ramsey but honestly if you wanted a cookbook by Gordon he’s already written over a dozen.  However, if you saw a recipe on MasterChef that you just really loved then this is the book for you.

Within its 272 pages you’ll find 75 recipes and a 150 photographs making it first rate food porn.  Additionally you’ll find an essay by Bastianich entitled “Wine Notes.”  The chefs of the MasterChef kitchen have also assembled step by step instructions intended to help you master the basics of cooking called “Master the Basics.”  Now that’s branding.

graham elliot joann cianciulliThis torrent of culinary data is masterfully brought together by veteran cookbook author and producer JoAnn Cianciulli.  Cianciulli (chan-chew-lee) is one of the food industry’s top insiders having worked with most of the country’s best chefs.  She has also worked behind the scenes on some of the most popular food shows like Bravo’s Top Chef and numerous Food Network programs.

MasterChef Cookbook is a great companion to the hit series.  It brings together a behind-the-scenes look at the contestants and hosts, recipe made famous on the show and ample bonus material.  If you are a MasterChef fan then you need to get the MasterChef Cookbook published by Rodale Books and available at amazon.com.

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MasterChef: Meet the Contestants

“MASTERCHEF” STARTS COOKING TUESDAY, JULY 27, ON FOX

NATIONWIDE SEARCH BRINGS 50 AMATEUR HOME COOKS

TO LOS ANGELES TO VIE FOR FIRST-EVER “MASTERCHEF” TITLE

Top 14 Revealed Tuesday, August 10

Sharpen your knives and fire up your stoves! Famed chef Gordon Ramsay’s newest culinary competition series, MASTERCHEF, based on the smash international hit, is set to start cooking Tuesday, July 27 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. After a nationwide search for the best home cooks in America, the series will turn one of 50 hopefuls into a culinary star and America’s first-ever MASTERCHEF.

Sheetal Bhagat of MasterChefIn the premiere episode, the hopefuls will have one hour to prepare their signature dishes and present them to the distinguished MASTERCHEF judging panel: Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay; restaurateur and wine maker Joe Bastianich; and the youngest four-star chef in America, Graham Elliot. The judges are looking for passion, creativity and most importantly great flavor and taste. Only the most deserving home cooks who impress the judges will win the coveted white apron and will move on to the next round of the competition.

On Tuesday, Aug. 3 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT), the judges will reveal the Top 30, and each week, the stakes will be raised as more hopefuls are eliminated until the Top 14 are announced on Tuesday, Aug. 10 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). Then, beginning Wednesday, Aug. 18 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT), the show moves to a new night and expands to two-hour episodes as the hopefuls dish out their absolute best in an effort to impress the judges and continue in the competition.

Are you looking for recipes from the show? Check out my review of the MasterChef Cookbook HERE.

Click HERE for a chart listing the hometowns, professions and signature dishes of the 50 home cooks.

Also a good read is Chris Spradley’s blog post about his Casting Call Experience for MasterChef.  Read it HERE.

Gordon Ramsay’s MASTERCHEF Premieres

Be sure to check out my review of the fist episode of MasterChef.

So a few months ago I saw the casting call for Gordon Ramsay’s newest food competition show for FOX’s summer line-up.  I had made my plans to go to the New Orleans audition and blow away the judges.  Then I read the fine print, “We will NOT be considering professional chefs who work in professional kitchens!”  Oh, well.  You see MASTERCHEF is all about Chef Gordan taking home cooks and turning them into chefs.  Here’s how the good folks at FOX sum it up:

Gordon Ramsay on WannabeTVchef.comSuperstar chef Gordon Ramsay is heating up FOX this summer with his newest culinary competition show, MASTERCHEF, which premieres Tuesday, July 27 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

Based on the U.K. and Australian smash hits of the same name, MASTERCHEF conducted a nationwide search to find the best home cooks in America. Through a series of elimination rounds one of those cooks will become a culinary master.  The winner will walk away with $250,000 dollars and will publish his or her own cookbook.

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Contestants on MASTERCHEF will be judged by a celebrated panel of culinary kings, including, Chef Gordon Ramsay; restaurateur and wine maker Joe Bastianich, owner of some of the most-celebrated Italian restaurants across the country; and Graham Elliot, the youngest four-star chef in the U.S. and mastermind behind Chicago’s first “bistronomic” restaurant.

In the series premiere, the show gets cooking immediately as the home cooks present their dishes to the judges with the hopes of being rewarded the coveted MASTERCHEF apron, which guarantees them a spot in the next round.  Throughout the season, contestants will be put through their paces in a series of challenges designed to test their palate, food knowledge, passion and culinary skills both inside and outside the kitchen. As they’re whittled down, they’ll face increasing pressure, from being asked to slice and dice a truckload of onions to creating incredible gourmet dishes from boxes full of random ingredients to providing an all-American send-off meal for hundreds of U.S. Marines and catering a high-end wedding.

Now I am a big fan of Gordan Ramsay.  He is one of the great chefs in the world.  I also love that he speaks with the colorful metaphors that intellectually stunted people call profanity.  To work in a professional kitchen you have to have thick skin; it’s not a place for sissies.  I’m interested to see how “Susie the housewife” or “Hunter the stay-at-home dad” handles the real world.  One thing is for sure with MASTERCHEF, FOX and Gordan will make your July sizzle.

Click HERE to meet all 50 contestants on MasterChef.

Review: Substitute Yourself Skinny

For many Americans the battle of the bulge is predicated on the fact that diet food tastes nasty. Those pre-portioned pseudo-meals shipped directly to your door are not only dreadful tasting but processed to the point you can’t really call it food.  They may make your tummy smaller but they wreak havoc on your liver, pancreas, heart, kidneys, et al.  Nothing that tastes bad is good for you.  After all your taste buds are as much a part of your body as your abs and glutes.  Why abuse them?

Susan Irby on Wannabe TV ChefSusan Irby has made her career by designing foods that fit what she calls “the Bikini lifestyle.”  It is an approach that has earned her the nickname the Bikini Chef.  Often identified as spa food, her style features healthy, local, sustainable ingredients prepared with sophistication.  But Irby’s food also has comfort and that’s what makes her healthy fare so satisfying.

Susan’s latest book is her best offering to date of figure-flattering flavors.  Substitute Yourself Skinny (Adams Media, 2010) includes 175 super-slimming recipes and dozens of gorgeous color photos.  This is one diet book that deserves serious food porn props!  Irby’s previous books include $7 Healthy Meals (read review) and $7 Quick and Easy Meals (read review) as well as Cooking with Susan, Southern Family Favorites.  All are available at amazon.com.  For more on Irby check out my exclusive interview from earlier this year.

The true voodoo of Substitute Yourself Skinny is not that Susan takes great, time-tested recipes that are packed with flavor and substitutes one or two high fat or high calorie ingredients for healthier alternatives while maintaining the soul of the dish.  No, the real magic is that Susan teaches you how to do it yourself.

Despite what the mail-order meal people would have you think, the path to getting that Bikini body is through your kitchen.  There is no such thing as a healthy diet that does not involve fresh ingredients cooked from scratch.  If cooking for yourself sounds horrific then what you eat is not the source of your excess tonnage, your laziness is.

Irby addresses this by making her recipes easy and quick.  First she starts you off with a shopping list of the staples needed for eating healthy and cooking quickly.  Then she offers recipes like I’m Feeling Lazy Lasagna and others engineered for that busy family on the go.

Susan Irby the Bikini ChefFinally, and most astonishingly, Irby has filled the pages of Substitute Yourself Skinny with foods you actually like and even crave: Creme de la Creme Cream of Broccoli Soup, Cinnamon Raisin Waffles, Not So Scalloped Potatoes, Biscuits and Gravy, Cajun Red Beans and Rice, I Love New York Cheesecake, Slidin’ Home BBQ Sliders, Sausage Pizza, Banana-rama Banana Pudding Cake and Fudgy Chocolate Brownies to name just a few.

Each delicious recipe is accompanied by a calorie count, serving size and nutritional breakdown.  Scattered throughout you will find helpful bits of information the author calls Skinny Secrets.  As mentioned before the photographs are stunningly clean and colorful.

Check back tomorrow to see how you can get your very own copy of Substitute Yourself Skinny for FREE!

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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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