Gordon Ramsay

Review: Modern Hospitality by MasterChef Whitney Miller

The other day I caught an episode of Two Fat Ladies the quaint BBC cooking show hosted by corpulent culinarians Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer MasterChefPaterson.  The particular episode I watched the ladies were waxing about how much they love the food of the American South.  I couldn’t help but think Who wouldn’t?

The ladies decided to demonstrate some traditional Southern recipes for their British audience.  They then went on to cook a menu that was anything but Southern.  The Two Fat Ladies are adorable. . .  except when they are butchering your native cuisine.  That got me thinking Why is it UK’ers cannot get Southern food right?

I remember another Brit, Danny Boome, on his old show Rescue Chef for the Food Network showing up in Atlanta to help a young bride make a traditional Southern chicken dinner.  Instead the menu consisted of chipotle-marinated chicken in a cornmeal batter, mango salsa, lemon-sour cream corn muffins, black beans and a raspberry tea cocktail with Prosecco.  Innovative?  Yes.  Traditional?  Hardly.

That’s why I was so happy when my review copy of Modern Hospitality – Simple Recipes with Southern Charm by MasterChef winner Whitney Miller arrived.  Miller is from Poplarville, Mississippi which is not too far from my home in South Alabama.  I went to college just 25 miles from Poplarville.  I knew Whitney would get it right and I was not disappointed.

Modern Hopisitality by MasterChef's Whitney MillerModern Hospitality weaves recipes, tips on entertaining and wholesome narrative with effortless grace.  There are plenty of color photos of both the food and Whitney’s famous smile.  Where the MasterChef cookbook was a chrome-plated amalgamation of recipes from contestants and every judge not named Gordon this book is all Whitney.  And, because I know you’re wondering, there is a foreword by Gordon Ramsay.

Whitney’s recipes strike a perfect balance between tradition and innovation.  She takes indigenous ingredients and gives them a make over like in her Field Peas with Okra and Andouille Sausage – three great ingredients that are seldom put together. When Miller does her version of a tried and true recipe her twists are whimsical yet logical.  Like her Jalapeño Cornbread.  It is cornbread kicked up with corn kernals, cheddar cheese and fresh jalapeño.

When I say it is cornbread I mean it is real cornbread – there’s no flour and more importantly no sugar.  You can play games with the fat in order to make it healthier or more luxurious but flour and sugar are two of my pet peeves.  Well, the flour thing isn’t a peeve as much as it is a philosophical difference.  It’s CORNbread not a baguette.  The sugar, however, is non-negotiable.  Cornbread should never, ever, under any circumstances be sweet.  If you add sugar you don’t have cornbread; you have corn cake.

Here, let me show you what a real cornbread recipe looks like courtesy of Miss Whitney Miller.

Jalapeño Cornbread
Recipe Type: Side
Author: Whitney Miller
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 4 – 6
From “Modern Hospitality – Simple Recipes with Southern Charm” by MasterChef winner Whitney Miller.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups fine ground cornmeal
  • 1 TBL baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 TBL canola oil
  • 1/2 cup corn kernals
  • 3 TBL shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 TBL diced fresh jalapeño
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Mix the cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the egg, buttermilk, fat-free milk, and 1/4 cup of the oil and stir until well combined. Mix in the corn, cheese, and jalapeños.
  3. Add the remaining 1 1/2 TBL oil to 9-inch cast-iron skillet. Rub the oil around to thoroughly coat the bottom and sides of the skillet. Heat in the oven for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour in the batter.
  4. Bake until the crust is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve hot.

Review – Restaurant: Impossible

Restaurant Impossible

I know what everyone thought when they first heard that Food Network was spinning off Dinner: Impossible with a new show called Restaurant: Impossible.  I thought the same thing, “Oh, they’re ripping of Kitchen Nightmares.”

Think about it, an intimidating English chef goes into struggling restaurants in an attempt to turn them around.  That’s Kitchen Nightmares – the Fox reality show starring super chef Gordon Ramsay.  It’s also the tag-line for Restaurant: Impossible. The only real difference I have seen between the two is that Restaurant: Impossible host Robert Irvine has a support team to help him out and a noticeable lack of bleeps.

Robert IrvineI don’t have a problem with Ramsay or any other chef dropping any words they want in the heat of a rush.  Goodness knows I do it.  I do have a problem with Fox telling Ramsay to do it just for shock value.  That’s bush league.  That’s why I have always preferred Ramsay’s BBC shows to his American ones.

Well there is no issue with that from Robert Irvine.  He brings the same intensity and passion to the task as Ramsay but without all of the pretend anger.  The formula for Restaurant: Impossible is simple – Robert takes a look at the operation and fixes it.  These fixes include retooling menus, retraining or releasing employees and overhauling the decor.  In the end Irvine has given the owners the best possible chance to succeed.

My opinion:  I like it.  I like it a lot.  My only complaint is that I can’t remember when it comes on so I end up stumbling on it half way through each time.  That’s not Food Network’s fault; it’s mine.  So I think I’ll make myself a reminder. . .

Don’t forget!
Restaurant: Impossible
Wednesdays at 10pm/9c on Food Network.

MasterChef Season 2 Casting Call

Gordon Ramsay on WannabeTVchef.comFOX has ordered a second season of Gordon Ramsay’s newest culinary competition series, MASTERCHEF, it was announced today by Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company.

“Gordon Ramsay is an incredible talent and the biggest culinary star on television today, so we’re very happy to have Gordon and MASTERCHEF back for another season on FOX,” said Darnell. “MASTERCHEF has resonated with viewers this summer, and we look forward to seeing where Gordon takes the show in Season Two.”

“It’s amazing and refreshing to see how much passion and raw talent there is from amateur home cooks across America,” said Ramsay. “It’s extraordinary the amount of energy and excitement the show brought in Season One, and I’m thrilled to be back at FOX for a second season.”

“The amazing reception for MASTERCHEF on FOX has been hugely rewarding for all of us at Shine Group,” said MASTERCHEF executive producer and Shine Group Chairman and CEO, Elisabeth Murdoch. “As the creators of this unique global franchise, we’re thrilled to see the U.S. audience love this show as much as we do. We are looking forward to building on this early success with an even broader, bigger search in Season Two, and to seeing the brand grow as it continues to do so in Australia, the U.K., France and around the world, breaking viewing and ancillary records as it goes.”

MASTERCHEF is the No. 1 new program of the summer among Adults 18-49, outperforming the next highest-rated show by +14%.

For those that believe they are the next MASTERCHEF please visit fox.com/masterchef.

Inside Look: The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills’ Chef Sasha

Last week kicked off the second season of Food Network’s racy reality show The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills.  At Big City Chefs, Beverly Hills’ premiere private chef placement agency, the only question is who is crazier: the chefs or the clientele? This group of talented chefs is on call 24-7 to cater to the exceedingly over-the-top, wacky, ridiculous and sometimes truly bizarre culinary clientele living the high-life in LA’s poshest neighborhood.

Chef Sasha from Private Chefs of Beverly HillsLast spring Chef Sasha Perl-Raver dropped by WTVC to answer 7 Questions (HERE) and thus gave us our first taste of the gang at Big City Chefs.  We learned that Chef Sasha at age 16 no less started her own catering business.  Since then she has graduated from USC with a minor in cinema, guest starred on the Lifetime drama Strong Medicine, was crowned Miss San Francisco, baked Lindsay Lohan’s 18th birthday cupcakes, been a senior writer for a Hollywood gossip web site and been named “funniest in LA” by a newspaper in New York.

So with season two under way there’s no telling what trouble our heroes will get themselves into.  To help give us an idea of life in the Big City (Chefs) the ginger goddess returns to provide us with an inside look at The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills.

1. What emotions did you experience the first time you saw the camera crew at one of your catering assignments.

Abject fear. Then horror. Then fear. Then panic. Then excitement. And then fear again.

Cooking is such a delicate art. Having someone there to document the vicissitudes can be really tricky. One of the most important parts of cooking is failure, because that’s when you learn or are forced to be the most creative. But when you’re on TV, who wants to look bad? And then there’s just the fact that you’re being filmed, period. I still can’t watch the show to be totally honest. Whenever I see myself on TV, all I can think is, “Is that really me? Do I really look like that and sound like that? Yeesh!”

2. Can you contrast the demands of a regular catering client and the catering that Big City Chefs’ clients request?

They’re one in the same. The only thing I’ve noticed is that occasionally people will tone down their bad behavior on the show because they know they’re on TV and they don’t want to make a bad impression on the audience. So you’re catching people on a good day. How scary is that? Hahah!

3. Have you been “glamping” lately?

Oh hell no! I hate camping. Always have, always will. The happiest moment of my year was driving away from that camp ground and toward civilization. I’m not a “Roughing It” kind of girl.

4. Last season was quite successful, how is life different today than it was 12 months ago?

Nothing’s changed to be totally honest. I’m still cooking, still writing, still working hard. I do, however, get nervous when I head into a grocery store to buy something crappy like Marshmallow Fluff or Lucky Charms. I’m always afraid that’s the moment someone will recognize me. The shame. The shame of my Marshmallow Fluff habit.

5. Because of your duties with Big City Chefs you get to weave in and out of the Tinsel Town glitterati – who have you met that you never thought you would and who would you still like to meet?

Between my writing work and cooking work, I’ve been very lucky when it comes to that kind of stuff. I’ve interviewed everyone from Meryl Streep to John Malkovich, I’m friends with a few folks in the biz, and every now and again I’ll have a totally random but really rad celebrity experience thanks to an assignment, like last month I got to go to New York for The Social Network premiere and this morning I got to work out with Dan Clark who was Nitro on American Gladiators. That was awesome! I’ve also cooked and done parties for tons of big names. I remember once seeing Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Jessica Simpson, Justin Timberlake, Jeremy Piven and Jon Voight all chowing down on my food in one room. It was like Night of a Thousand Stars with J Names. I guess I’d love to cook a very private dinner party, if you get my drift, for Keanu Reeves or Alexander Skarsgard from True Blood. But probably the only celebrity I’d do just about anything to meet is J.J. Abrams. That guy rocks my world. Felicity and Lost?!?! I mean, are there even words for that level of genius?

6. So what’s a typical Private Chef’s shoot like?

When you were a kid, did you walk up to Santa Claus at the mall and pull his beard off? If I answer that question, it would be like seeing Dolly Parton before she gets her face on in the morning. Sometimes a bit of mystery is a good thing.

7. I know Manoushka has designs on her own stand-and-stir show.  Would you be interested in doing an old fashioned cooking show?

Not only do I want my own show, I want cookbooks, a magazine, pots and pans, knives with my name on them, a line of packed foods, my own Girl Scout cookie; I want to be the next Martha or Mario. Obviously. We all do. I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school to say that it’s safe to assume all the chefs on PCOBH would love to have their own cooking show. Duh. Who doesn’t? Look at the people who compete on Next Food Network Star or Next Iron Chef. Having your own cooking show and becoming the next Rachel Ray is the new American dream it seems.

8. If someone wanted to cyber-stalk you where should they go?

They should check out my blog, www.myhollywoodbites.blogspot.com, my website, www.sashaperlraver.com, read my writing on NBC.com or SheKnows.com, or go to old-faithfuls like Facebook and Twitter. But I highly doubt anyone wants to stalk me. I can’t even get a boy to ask me out on a date. Sad face…and cheap ploy for more date invites. Ha!

Be sure to check it out as fellow PCO90210 chef Manouschka Guerrier answers 7 Questions HERE.

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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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