Gordon Ramsay

7 Questions with Manouschka Guerrier

7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know better.

This week kicks 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.

Manouschka Guerrier is the curvy, sultry femme fatale of the group. Her beauty blurs the line between classic and exotic.  Perhaps too sexy to be a real chef?  Not true.  Though Manouschka is a former model, she is all about the food, oh and the single life.  Chef Guerrier is chronicling her voyage from private to celebrity chef on her blog Single Serving.  There you’ll also find some of Manouschka’s cooking videos to help you put that diva-spin on your next party.

Recently Manouschka was kind enough to answer 7 Questions.  Ain’t she a doll?

1.How old were you when you first started to cook?

Manouschka Guerrier of Private Chefs of Beverly HillsI started experimenting with flavors when I was 10, my poor brother was my first guinea pig & he still brings up my first attempt at making Chinese food when I was that age ev-ER-y chance he gets… terrible!

2. When did you decide that you could make food your career?

Food has always been my life but my career focus had always been in performing. Here’s the thing, as an Actor you don’t just get to come straight off a plane & land on a set. You work as a waiter, a bartender or for a catering service… something service industry related until you catch your big break.

Luckily, I worked as a bartender in this Hollywood hotspot & we catered A LOT of private events. I would sneak out from behind the bar & hang in the kitchen & the Chefs Brian Vaccarella & Keven Alan Lee would have me taste things & ask for my input & really nurtured me in understanding food preparation & presentation. They loved that I was like this sponge & we all benefited from me cruising by the kitchen & it was like an invaluable crash course in cooking school, those two changed my life. Using all this new food knowledge I started to cater intimate events for my wealthy & famous friends with my first company called “To Serve With Love” just to make extra money. I have a shoe & French cookware fetish… Mama needed some new babies, but I took it all really seriously about 2 1/2 years ago after I went through a craptastic breakup, lost my job of 9 years & a film I was supposed to star in fell through the week I was supposed to start shooting. At that time Oprah was touting this new book called “A New Earth”, I have ADHD so reading anything other than what’s on the Internet or bills is super hard for me. I’m the girl that waits for the movie to come out… HA!

Anywho, my friends were off to Honduras to chase whale sharks, I had a $1,000 weave & I’m Black… we’re not really into swimming with sharks, so I decided to join them to read the book sans distraction & regroup. 10 days later, I joined a girlfriend who was dancing for Cher. Cooked my butt off every day on this sick Wolf stove we had in our condo, everyone told me I should have my own show….

I started watching Food Network religiously for the first time while I was there. I really didn’t understand the allure of watching food on TV that you can’t eat?!?!? At that time, they were airing a Chefography marathon and THAT WAS IT! I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. Cook on TV. Long story, short, days into my 3 week Vegas adventure I got to meet Oprah Winfrey when she came to town to interview Cher & Tina & I got to thank her personally for getting me to read that book because I found my life’s calling. She wished me well on my journey & said “how cool is, it?” *swoon*. I came back home with this new purpose & immediately, playing on the newly single theme & just attacking this business venture on my own. I started a new catering company, shot a cooking show pilot with my friends Mike Kallio & Shannon Pope & launched a blog all under the name of “Single Serving”. I created a brand & the rest is history… well herstory!



3. Which chefs have influenced you the most?

When it comes to kitchen prowess, my Grandmother Olga & my Mother Jacqueline are who have influenced me the most & it wasn’t until my Grandmother passed 3 years ago did I find out she wasn’t just the best cook in the world, she was actually an accredited Chef who gave it all up to raise her six children & brought them all to this country by herself from Haiti. She put every single one of them into College & Universities like Cornell & Syracuse. She is my hero & I miss her madly. When it comes to kitchen savvy: Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson, Anthony Bourdain & Tyler Florence keep me motivated & hungry for success in food & food TV.

They are all well versed in food knowledge & are dang sexy & super passionate while still being tangible. That is such an incredible gift to posses. What I also adore about them is their authenticity. Media is just bombarded with fakes & frauds but with them what you see is what you get & they make their audience feel lucky that they are sharing their lives with them & that’s why their audience welcomes them into their home, buys their books, cooks their food & eat at the places they recommend…. they’re amazing!

4. If you hadn’t followed this career path, what other career could you see yourself in?

Definitely something in the Arts. I’ve worked as a model, dancer, actor, music video girl, writer (I’ve sold 3 scripts), host… performing, like food, has always been a great love affair. The fact I get to combine both is amazing. I’m a very lucky girl.

5. What’s the highlight of your career so far?

There have been so many! Working for Big City Chefs & having our adventures documented for Food Network is pretty epic. The opportunities that have been awarded to me from this experience have been endless. We work like crazy & Tom Stieber is a fantastic boss. He’s super funny, supportive & honestly, I think of him as a dear friend. He really invested in me a lot this year. Another dear friend, Justin Howard, hooked me up with some super cool gigs like cooking for Selena Gomez’s 18th birthday, I absolutely fell in love with her Grandparents. They just hung with me by the grill all day to make sure I was ok… OH & her Mom makes this cheesy potato casserole dish that’s so ding dang good you might hurt your own mother if you ate it… HA!

He also got me a gig for Garnier hosted by Audrina Patridge & yes Miss Sexy Thang ate my burgers… awesome sauce! Thanks to Chef Stuart who’s also a Spokeschef (HA I love making up words) for Tupperware hooked me up with a gig to work alongside a woman I admire tremendously, superstar caterer & cookbook author Lulu Powers for a Bloomingdale’s event that was attended by Barbara Streisand, Donna Karan & James Brolin.

Manouschka Guerrier6. Of all the crazy things you’ve seen at Big City Chefs what’s the craziest?

Working for a White Witch was definitely the most bizarre experience I have EVER had both in & out of the workplace…. I tried to joke about it & told her I was a Black Witch, but I’m telling you I almost peed my pants the entire time!

7. What’s next for Chef Manouschka Guerrier?

The sky’s the limit, I tell ya. Tuesday, October 12th at 9 pm on the Food Network is the premiere of Private Chefs of Beverly Hills second season. I’m telling you this season is spectacular! The clients are definitely off the chain as opposed to last season & our culinary skills are pushed to the limits. I can’t thank the clients this season enough for what they inspired us to do & all those who are watching will not only be laughing their butts off but will be inspired as well. It really is a stellar season & I am so PROUD of everyone involved & kudos to Food Network for showcasing this side of our business. I am also launching a store on my blog with Opensky where you can buy all of my favourite things I always talk about directly from my blog JUST in time for this Holiday season. I am so thrilled with this partnership with Opensky & I’m honored that they would have me. I will be having a soft opening soon, but you can catch a sneak peek now on www.shopopensky.com.

I am also starting a Single’s cooking class which takes online dating, offline & brings you face to face as I teach you how to cook while you rotate on several dates called “Plate Dates”, It’s fun & sexy & takes the pressure off of online dating or even worse speed dating, where you have mere seconds to impress someone & you learn how to make a meal & possibly connect with someone you otherwise wouldn’t have thought you would have. I am also working on a project with my bestie & Single Serving cohort Shannon Pope, I swear without that guy I am NOTHING.

We are shooting a series for Single Serving that plays on the 7 Deadly Sins called 7 Single Servings. It chronicles 7 different aspects of one single character set in 7 sinful scenes with food. The first 3 letters in single is SIN & I’m not going to be made to feel like being single is a curse or a sin… it’s a lifestyle choice that I make no qualms about flaunting & I LOVE it! With Single Serving I want to empower other single women who are not single because someone left them, but because they chose to be allowing them opportunities to be incredible, powerful individuals that achieved all of their goals & wishes before they partnered up with the one they’re meant to share the rest of their life with. I’ll be releasing the series on my youtube channel & Facebook in less than 2 weeks. The images are amazing & shot by 3 super talented artists Diana Zollicoffer, Leyna Juliet Weber & Zak Zwerin… this thing is going to POP baby, get ready!

Can’t get enough of the folks at Big City Chefs?  Check out my exclusive interviews with Chef Brook Peterson (HERE) and Chef Sasha Perl-Raver (HERE).  The New Season of The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills Premieres Tuesday, October 12 at 9pm/8c.

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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.

Review: Gordon Ramsay’s MasterChef

MasterChef is the latest American incarnation of a successful British reality competition.  The original MasterChef has been a hot commodity for years in the UK as has its cousins MasterChef: Australia and MasterChef: Hungary.  For the American version Fox has teamed Gordon Ramsay, one of the world’s greatest and most renowned chefs with two of the kingpins of the US restaurant industry, Chef Graham Elliot Bowles and restaurateur Joe Bastianich.  Fox was nice enough to let me catch a preview of MasterChef’s debut episode, a sneak peek so to speak.

Meet the players:
Graham Elliot Bowles on WannabeTVchef.comBowles is a prodigy who became America’s youngest 4 star chef at the age of 27.  He is a pioneer of the trendy molecular gastronomy movement that couples cooking and chemistry.  His groundbreaking restaurant, graham elliot, combines cutting edge American cuisine with humor and just a touch of moxie to create Chicago’s first “bistronomic” restaurant.  His accolades are many having brought home traditional culinary affirmation like the coveted James Beard Award and new age recognition as a competitor on both Bravo’s Top Chef: Masters and the Food Network’s Iron Chef America.

Joe Bastianich on WannabeTVchef.comIf the name Joe Bastianich sounds familiar it should.  His mother is famed Italian cheflebrity Lidia Bastianich.  He is also friend and business partner to America’s most successful Italian chef, Mario Batali.  But Bastianich’s life is about more than just great restaurants.  He is also a noted winemaker who is described as a “street-level philosopher.”  He has been honored as both vintner and restaurateur by the likes of Food & Wine and the James Beard Foundation.  His book on wine pairing, Vino Itialiano (available at amazon.com), is considered the standard by which the genre is judged.

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Gordon Ramsay on WannabeTVchef.comFew people in the western world are not familiar with the name Gordon Ramsay.  Though his reputation in the states is built mainly around his explosive temper and colorful use of metaphors in Europe he is thought of as one of the best chefs in the world.  It is a shame that most Americans only know the exaggerated personality shown on TV because he is one of the most gifted and passionate people in the culinary world.

The premiere episode features 100 hopeful home cooks vying to be one of the 30 finalist competing for the title MasterChef.  To earn one of the coveted MasterChef aprons each competitor is asked to cook the meal of their lives for the three judges.

The first round of dishes fails to yield a single plate worthy of remaining in the contest.  This forces Chef Ramsay to give a pep talk to the remaining contestants filled with the bleep riddled prose that the host is known for as well as a bit of the overcharged, dare I say forced drama that is the mainstay of virtually every “reality” show.

As with every “reality” contest on TV there is a plethora of over-critiquing.  Negative comments are far more negative than they need to be and positive comments are stuffed with Pentecostal exuberance.  Nothing is ever mediocre in “reality” TV; it is either dreadful or the best thing ever.  This lack of gray area is why television is anything but real.

The best example of overly-negative critiquing is when Gordon takes a stuffed bell pepper garnish from one plate, dumps out the contents so he can spit out the mouthful of fish taco he is tasting.  The best example of made-for-TV positive shtick is Bowles tasting one contestant’s Korean duck wrap and stating, “That is like sex in your mouth . . . in the best possible way.”  There are plenty of the tear jerking moments that producers love to show as well.  MasterChef follows the American Idol formula to a “T.”

But, as with any of Ramsay’s shows, there are truly honest moments.  It is these glimpses of lucidity that make him a star.  At his soul, Ramsay is a compassionate person and it is evident that he genuinely cares for other people.  It is likely that his persona and Graham Elliot’s lovable big guy personality will produce a similar chemistry to Paula and Simon.  Although I highly doubt Bowles would look as good in a short red dress.  Bastianich is the wild card; he lacks that biting English snark while at the same time he is cold and calculating in his critiques.

MasterChef separates itself from “Worst Cook in America” because it starts with ametuers who can already cook and seeks to make them better.  It also separates itself from “Next Food Network Star” because it allows Southern cooks to compete.  The best home cooks in America traditionally hail from the South but NFNS has clearly avoided casting calls in the South for some reason opting for mainly East Coast and West Coast auditions.

MasterChef also separates itself from all other TV cooking contests with its prize – $250,000 cash and a major cookbook deal which is potentially worth millions.  I like MasterChef more than I do Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen or Chopped and far more than I do NFNS.  But at the same time it is a far cry from Iron Chef America.

MasterChef premieres Tuesday July 27th (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on Fox.  For more information check out the official press release 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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