Extreme Chef

Food Network Star Exit Interview: Justin Davis

The first order of business – Happy Fourth of July!  Because of the holiday Food Network delayed the exit interview until Tuesday.  I hope that hasn’t sent anyone into DTs.

Other than the occasional guest spot on Iron Chef America or Best Thing I Ever Ate the Food Network had earned a reputation for snubbing new media foodies.  A serious amount of disrespect considering that there are foodie web sites that are actually older than the Food Network.  Most people, given the opportunity, would rather watch Average Betty than Barefoot Contessa.  We’d rather see Chef Unleashed than the abomination that is Extreme Chef.

But that changed a little on August 2, 2008 when Ask Aida premiered.

The Aida in question was Aida Mollenkamp who had previously been the editor of the mega food site CHOW.com.  Last year another food blogger, Aarti Sequeira (AartiPaarti.com, GoodBite.com) competed and won Food Network Star 6.  It isn’t much, but it’s a start.

Justin DavisEnter Justin Davis, one part of the husband-wife food blogging team behind GastronomicDuo.com.  Justin was poised to be the next new media foodie to find stardom on the latest installment of Star.

Justin hardly received any face-time the first two weeks, dominated the screen in week three, became a promising competitor in week four.  But in week five Justin’s run was over.  His elimination was puzzling since Chris had a much worse performance than anyone else on the show, for the second time this season.  But at the same time Justin never really put in a great performance.

Alicia Sanchez voiced displeasure with her experience on the show in a blog post that has since disappeared.  In it she suggested that contestants were not eliminated because of performance but according to script.  She has also voiced her suspicions about whether Chris and Penny were actors who were planted to spice things up.  As it turns out, Penny was an actressLast week Justin Balmes seemed less than joyful over his Star experience as well.

This week I get the feeling that Justin Davis was just relieved to be off the show based on this from his elimination post at Gastronomic Duo, “If Food Network wants Penny’s, Chris’s and Jyll’s, they can have them. I was called the opposite of authentic, I would say the same for the show. ”

Justin mentioned some of the close friends he made on the show even mentioning that when Justin B. was eliminated he actually teared up.  At the same time he clearly was not enamored with all of his fellow contestants saying, “A lot of the other finalists, I felt, were like little children standing in a room yelling Hey, look at me!  Look at me!”  He said inwardly he felt, “I don’t know that I want to play this game.”   “I put myself out there to be judged and to be critiqued.  I can’t be upset about how it turned out,” he admitted clearly upset.

It was obvious both watching the show and talking to him that Justin was not happy being part of Food Network Star.  His performance on the show was easily that of someone who was disengaged.  I think Bobby Flay nailed it when he said, “He dropped out of high school and I feel like now he is dropping out gain.”  Justin himself said, “I learned something about myself; I learned I’m not cut out for reality TV.”  An honest assessment.

Justin was also nice enough to share some of the warmer behind-the-scenes happenings.  He was especially impressed with the approachability of season two winner Guy Fieri saying, “He took the extra time to kind of step away from everything that was happening, which is the competition, and took a minute to talk to everyone as a person not as Guy Fieri.  It was really interesting to see that side of him.  He concluded, “I found him to be a humble and welcoming person.”

How has traffic to Gastronomic Duo been effected by your appearance on Star?

It definitely has seen an upswing.  I feel like we’re a little bit more on the radar.  Especially locally, my local appearances, we’ve seen a lot of really good traffic.  I’d still like to see a lot more obviously.

We’ve been running it for two years and I think the first year and a half was trying to figure out what it was going to be.  We’ve finally got it to the point that it looks good; it feels good. Now we just have to get the video in play.

To date Aida and Aarti are the only two Food Network celebs to get their start on the Internet.  Do you think that the network is missing out by not tapping new media sources for on-air talent?

I think that there’s a huge food blogging community out there and I have found them to be, for the most part, really supportive.  People want to start this online discussion about food and I think that food bloggers have a lot to say.  Do I think that they are totally missing out?  I don’t know.  I wouldn’t deter any food blogger from trying to go on the show.

On your blog post yesterday you alluded to “big things” on the horizon.  Can you give us a hint as to what you have in the works?

I’m lining up doing a small online series; it’s just going to be a quick four episodes.  Get it up and get it out there and try to market myself.  I think we’ll find some really fun special guests.  I think it’ll be an interesting thing.  I want it to be an expansion of my blog.  It’s my half of the blog.

I’m all about seducing women with food.  I think that if I can teach men to cook a lady something that they’re going to love I feel like they’re going to have a much better chance at getting a second date.  I’m going to do a little video series on that and see what the response is.

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Be sure to stop by each Monday for my exclusive mourning after exit interviews with each exiled foodie (HERE). This year I have also added the WTVC (WannabeTVchef) Food Network Star Polls – six categories for contestants who best embody the spirit of former Food Network Star competitors. Be sure to check them out HERE. Click HERE to get all the news, gossip and snark on Food Network Star season 7.

Chef Unleashed with Chris Cosentino

Chef Chris CosentinoThe following video is a proposed pilot for a very raw cooking show starring Incanto executive chef Chris Cosentino.  “Chef Unleashed invites the viewer on a global eating exploration.  It’s a new kind of reality show, about where good food really comes from—when it’s done right.”

Cosentino is well know for his nose-to-tail approach to cooking.  As a chef he has a tremendous respect for the animals that feeds us and that is why he uses all them in his cooking, so nothing goes to waste.  That is a far more nature-friendly approach than treating animals as a minority group surrounded by a bunch of half-baked activists.

This is the kind of cooking show I would love to see and I think Americans could benefit from.  Let me warn you that if you are the type that can’t bare to see Bambi drilled with a .306 through the jugular then this will be hard for you to watch, but you need to watch it.  Once you see Chris’ actions and emotions you’ll understand where he’s coming from.  Plus we’re only ever three days without power away from having to live like this again.  Anyway, this is what Extreme Chef should have been like.

 

Chef Unleashed from Chris Cosentino on Vimeo.

Review: Extreme Chef

So what is Extreme Chef?  Here’s what the Food Network site has to say about it:

You thought Iron Chef was tough? Those crazy Chopped baskets seem impossible? Extreme Chef takes competitive cooking to a whole new level. Host Marsh Mokhtari takes seasoned chefs out of their kitchen comfort zones and throws unpredictable curveballs.

Extreme ChefHere’s what the web site says about host Marsh Mokhtari:

Born in the UK, Marsh, a seasoned world traveler, has lived on four continents. His globetrotting started at an early age when he spent his first six years in Iran, and then later moved to England, where he ultimately earned a degree in medical physics from the University of Newcastle. While there, he played American football for the UK national team and rugby for the Newcastle Falcons.

He went on to enjoy a successful career in executive search in London. While on sabbatical in Australia, he had a fortuitous encounter with a film crew and found his true calling. The lure of acting, adventure and travel took Marsh to Bolivia where he hosted Death Road, a one-hour special for History Channel that garnered him instant credibility and notoriety. The National Geographic Channel saw the potential and commissioned a series of specials, Perilous Journeys, featuring Marsh. Marsh was guest star on numerous TV shows and recently completed shooting an independent feature, Carjack. Marsh is also currently the host of Food Network’s new series, Extreme Chef.

Here’s what I have to say about both:

Mokhtari has no background in food.  None.  There aren’t chefs or food writers out there who need a job?  For that matter 1 out of every 8 Americans is out of job.  Couldn’t they have hired one of them since they were going with someone unqualified to host the show anyway?  That aside, he has a good camera presence and is good looking.

As for the premiss of the show as a whole – it’s better than Cupcake Wars, but I doubt I ever labor through another episode.  I’m just not a fan of taking someone who is good at something and then doing everything you can to F with them.  It isn’t entertaining.  You know what is entertaining?  Watching someone who is really good at something do the thing they are really good at unimpeded.

The contestants were annoying as hell in the premiere, or should I say one chef was annoying as hell, Chef Paul Menta.  They were joined by celebrity chef Marco Canora who was on Next Iron Chef a few years back.  In addition to making accomplished chefs cook alligator over a Bic lighter they also have “X Factors” which are stupid physical challenges that have nothing to do with cooking.  The one bright spot of the show was that Chef Gina Clarke is a stone cold fox.  Food Network get her a show – a real show.

If you want to know what Extreme Chef should have been, check out Chef Unleashed with Chris Cosentino.

#FoodNetworkFail

Marsh Mokhtari

Food Network Scorches Summer with Heat Seekers

Robert Irvine Returns with Season Two of ‘Restaurant: Impossible’
Plus: 5 New Episodes of ‘Food Network Star’ and 6 Daytime Season Premieres

NEW YORK – June 16, 2011 – Summer‘s heating up on Food Network with two new series, seven new seasons and five premiere episodes of its number one show, Food Network Star. It’s raining men in the series premiere of Heat Seekers as Aarón Sanchez and Roger Mooking take the country by storm in a sizzling search of the nation’s spiciest food beginning Friday, July 22nd at 10pm, and two cacophonous New Jersey sisters get down to baking business in the new series Tough Cookies (WT) premiering Monday, July 11th at 10pm. Summer fun doesn’t stop there as Robert Irvine returns to save the day in season two of Restaurant: Impossible premiering Wednesday, July 6th at 10pm while the suspense builds and contestants dwindle in premiere episodes of Food Network Star on Sundays at 9pm. Things are getting busy “In the Kitchen” with six daytime season premieres, and the action continues with countless premiere episodes of Food Network favorites including Iron Chef America and Food Network Challenge. Join the Food Network conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

FEATURED SERIES
·         Premiering Sunday, July 3rd at 9pm –“Diners, Drive-Ins and 4th of July”
In this 90-minute episode, the ten finalists must prove that they can entertain and cook. Guy Fieri explains that each finalist will take part in a taping at Mel’s Drive-In. Then, it’s all fireworks as the contestants put their spin on American classics using MGD 64 as a special ingredient for the Fourth of July All-American Food Festival, and the finalists must take the stage and serve as the live entertainment for the day.
·         Premiering Sunday, July 10th at 9pm –“Food Truck Face Off”
Tyler Florence divides the nine finalists into groups challenging them to create and brand a unique menu for a lunch truck. They must film an advertising spot promoting their truck and then serve mobile meals to viewers they inspired, but contestants have to put their best foot forward as consumers can only visit the truck they liked best.
·         Premiering Sunday, July 17th at 9pm –“Dinner Party for Wolfgang Puck”
In this double elimination episode, Bobby Flay charges the eight finalists to create a signature dish and helps them shine before each finalist demos their dish in front of the selection committee. Later, Bobbyreveals the next challenge where the remaining finalists must host a dinner party for Wolfgang Puck and create a menu with only the ingredients and supplies in the house. HGTV’s Sabrina Soto makes a guest appearance to help the finalists get the house dinner party ready, and Puck arrives with the judges to help decide which six finalists will head to New York City to finish the race to become a Food Network Star.
·         Premiering Sunday, July 24st at 9pm –“Ina Garten and Rachael Ray”
In this episode, the six remaining finalists arrive at Food Network headquarters in New York City and are greeted by Ina Garten and Bobby Flay. She challenges them to create unique cupcakes that best represent their personalities. Next, contestants are floored when Rachael Ray joins them via satellite and informs them they must put on a live demonstration on the Rachael Ray Show. Each finalist puts their twist on a traditional dinner dish hoping to impress the live studio audience and Rachael Ray herself.
·         Premiering Sunday, July 31st at 9pm –“Comedy Roast”
The five finalists begin this action-packed episode scouring the stores of Chelsea Market in New York City searching for the “Best Thing I Ever Ate.” Bobby Flay then directs them to describe how this dishimpacted them. Next, the finalists prepare a signature roast dish that gets roasted by guest star comedians Gilbert Gottfried, Aubrey Plaza, Anthony Anderson, Louie Anderson and Judy Gold.
SERIES PREMIERES
Tough Cookies (WT):Premieres Monday, July 11th at 10pm
Food Network heads down the shore this summer for the new series Tough Cookies (WT), following sisters Susan Adair and Linda Brand and their loving, squabbling, multi-generational family as they run Crazy Susan’s Cookie Company in Ocean City, N.J. Crazy Susan’s isn’t your average bakery – Susan is a mad genius, cooking up crazy new concoctions every day, and their cookies are as popular as the beach in this town. They have their hands full with lines out the door and phones that never stop ringing – all while baking and managing their employees, who are mostly family members.
Heat Seekers: Premieres Friday, July 22nd at 10pm
For chefs Aarón Sanchez and Roger Mooking, Heat Seekers is a tongue-testing odyssey to discover the most delicious and dangerous spicy food in the country—and figure out why it’s so much fun to eat. This season Aarón and Roger travel to Miami, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Santa Fe, Chicago, Seattle, Charleston and Los Angeles in search of outrageously spicy creations. In each city, they discover the secrets of everything from broiled crawfish and buffalo frog legs to fiery ribs and seafood ceviche, and then subject themselves to a test of who can handle the heat. What results is either tears of laughter or tears of pain, but usually, it’s both.
SEASON PREMIERES
Primetime
Restaurant: Impossible: Season 2 premieres Wednesday, July 6th at 10pm
·         Premiering Wednesday, July 6th at 10pm –“Dodge City”
Robert heads to Harrisburg, Pa., to save Dodge City, a Wild West themed restaurant. Robert challenges the staff to create an original dish, and the design team races against the clock to finish the restaurant’s new look before the grand opening.
·         Premiering Wednesday, July 13th at 10pm –“La Stanza”
At La Stanza in Philadelphia, Robert finds an old-world Italian restaurant being run by the owner’s daughter and on the brink of failure. He jumps into action brightening up the dining room and updating the menu while also training an inexperienced manager.
·         Premiering Wednesday, July 20th at 10pm – “Sweet Tea”
Robert travels to Chapin, S.C., in attempt to save Sweet Pea by improving the freshness of the food, quality of service and restaurant décor. With just minutes until opening, Robert puts the staff through a grueling boot camp to shake the bad service in a last attempt to save this restaurant from complete failure.
·         Premiering Wednesday, July 27th at 10pm – “Country Fare”
Robert’s mission is clear when he arrives at Country Fare in Stafford, Va., a neighborhood diner with inedible food and a repulsive kitchen. After teaching the staff basic cooking skills, he focuses on a much-needed design overhaul.
Daytime
Aarti Party: Season 3 premieres Saturday, July 2nd at 9am – “Summertime and the Cookin’ Is Easy”
Down Home with the Neelys: Season 10 premieres Saturday, July 2nd at 11:30am – “Food Spell”
Secrets of a Restaurant Chef: Season 8 premieres Saturday, July 2nd at 12pm – “The Secret to Lobster Rolls”
Barefoot Contessa: Season 5 premieres Saturday, July 2nd at 1pm – “Summertime Easy”
Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d’Arabian: Season 5 premieres Sunday, July 3rd at 9am – “Italian Inspiration”
Cooking for Real: Season 10 premieres Saturday, July 9th at 10am – “Taking My Lumps”
ON-AIR SPECIAL
Sunny’s All-American Celebration: Premieres Saturday, July 2nd at 10am
Sunny Anderson shows us that behind every great soldier is a good meal. It’s a very special personal and patriotic journey for Sunny as she travels to Ft. Bragg, N.C. and Fort Lee, Va. to look back on her time in the military, celebrate men and women in uniform, reconnect with her active duty family members, and show viewers why food is often the glue that holds military families together.
ONLINE CONTENT
Pull out a checkered tablecloth, fire up the grill and look no further for perfect all-American recipes at FoodNetwork.com/july4. Food Network fans get party-perfect recipes like Guy’s 4th of July Cocktail, Alton’s Fried Chicken and a new favorite, Flag Cake, from Ina Garten.
NEW EPISODES
In addition to the above new series, seasons and specials, Food Network premieres all new episodes of:
Food Network Challenge: Premieres Sunday, July 3rd at 8pm – “Star Wars Cakes”
Food Network Challenge: Premieres Sunday, July 17th at 8pm – “Chocolate Myths”
Food Network Challenge: Premiering Sunday, July 24th at 8pm – “Smurf Cakes”
Iron Chef America: Premieres Sunday, July 24th at 10pm – “Flay vs. Christensen”
Iron Chef America: Premiering Sunday, July 31st at 10pm – “Symon vs. Johnson”
Daytime: 5 Ingredient Fix, 30 Minute Meals, Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction, Giada At Home, Guy’s Big Bite, Mexican Made Easy, Paula’s Best Dishes, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee
Primetime: Chopped, Cupcake Wars, Extreme Chef, Meat & Potatoes, Outrageous Food, The Best Thing I Ever Ate

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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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