jag

Interview with Food Network Star’s JAG

Originally published in 2009.

AllWebCo Web Hosting Services

Those of us who have watched Next Food Network Star the past few years have long lamented the disappointing finale of season 3. JAG (Joshua Adam Garcia) was sure to be a runaway star, much in the mold of Guy Fieri who won season 2. Well, that didn’t happen but all who watched NFNS 3 knew that JAG was far too talented not to be a cheflebrity.

Joshua Adam Garcia AKA-JAGFood Network’s loss is Tampa’s gain as JAG is heading up the kitchen at POSH 27, an exciting new restaurant and night club opening later this year in the Cigar City. Chef JAG was kind enough to give Edible TV a few minutes of his time via e-mail and here’s what he had to say:

The menu at Posh 27 appears to take flavors from all over Latin America and the Caribbean. Was this planned or did it just evolve?

This was definitely planned out to showcase a hot new culinary style all on its own. My Latino Fusionè will be tasted in every culinary aspect of Posh 27.

What dishes on the menu are you most proud of? Which ones most accurately proclaim, “This is JAG?”

It would be unfair to the other dishes to proclaim “This is JAG” or that is not JAG enough! LOL… I stand behind every crumb laden morsel and cannot decide or discriminate towards which dish best represents myself or my cuisine. The whole damn menu is all JAG’ed up!

What is the scope of your influence over the operations of Posh 27?

I am currently the Corporate Executive chef and culinary mind of Posh 27’s restaurant concept.

One of the stated goals of Posh 27 is to seamlessly transition from restaurant to nightlife. What exactly does this mean? How is this accomplished?

That is our little secret… All I will say is that the changing of the lighting and ambiance alone will reveal an atmosphere specifically designed to tantalize your senses.

JAG, you remain one of the most popular contestants in the history of Next Food Network Star. How has that popularity translated into your post NFNS career?

Well… Lord knows I don’t see myself as Mr. Popularity but God has definitely blessed me with a loyal post-Food Network following and the much deserved opportunity to showcase my cuisine; for that alone, I am humbled and truly grateful.

With a name like Posh 27 and a celebrity chef manning the kitchen is it safe to say that the restaurant will be a “place to see and be seen?”

I would say so… You be the judge… If I were you, Stuart, I’d start making some plans to be in Tampa Bay surrendering your senses to the hottest combination of Dining and Nightlife to hit the restaurant scene since Emeril went green! To answer your question… YES! It will most definitely will be!

Is there an opening date yet for Posh 27 Tampa?

Our current opening projection is scheduled for the summer of 2009.

Now the segment that should have won JAG season three of Food Network Star:

Ina Garten – The Heartless Contessa?

I never understood the hullabaloo Food Network threw over Robert Irvine slightly fudging on his resume.  After all none of what he listed was false just exaggerated; still he was suspended.  JAG was pulled from the finale of NFNS 4 for the same thing although his “exaggerations” were a bit more exaggerated.  Worst Cooks in America host Beau MacMilan had a minor traffic violation that resulted in his job being pulled, ironically he was replaced by Irvine.

On the grand scheme of things these are not serious infractions.  Not in the least but it does make one wonder how Food Network and parent company Scripps Networks will handle the recent actions of Barefoot Contessa hostess Ina Garten.  After all, punching up your resume or rolling through a stop sign are nothing compared to telling a dying child you’re too busy to meet them.

Apparently that is exactly what Garten did.  On March 25th TMZ and about three dozen other media sources reported that she repeatedly snubbed the dying wish of a terminal Leukemia victim.  Here’s an excerpt from TMZ’s report:

… a little boy named Enzo was approached by the (Make-A-Wish) organization after he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia three years ago.

Enzo told Make-A-Wish … he really wanted to cook with the “Barefoot Contessa” host because he would often watch the show with his mother while resting in bed.

M.A.W. approached Garten with the wish last year … but at the time, she was unable to meet with Enzo due to a book tour.  The organization urged Enzo to pick another wish, but he told them he wanted to wait until she becomes available.

We’re told the organization went back to Ina this year … but her team responded with a “definite no” … once again, citing scheduling conflicts.

A member of Enzo’s family says the 6-year-old is heartbroken … and asked parents, “Why doesn’t she want to meet me?”

Now I have acknowledged that I think Garten’s food and creativity are quite good but I’ve also gone on record as not being a fan of the Barefoot Contessa program.  To me it is one of the most boring cooking shows around.  I am not alone in my belief that if Ina Garten were not Martha Stewart’s best friend no one would know who she was.  She damned sure wouldn’t have a nationally televised cooking show.  That being said, she does score exceptionally well in one demographic – well-to-do housewives from the Hamptons.

However, I don’t see that trend remaining after telling a dying child they aren’t important enough to meet her.  It sounds like someone is taking their “Contessa” title a little too seriously doesn’t it?  It would appear Garten thinks she is something more than just another well-to-do housewife from the Hamptons.

I might could swallow the “scheduling conflicts” excuse but who has a year worth of scheduling conflicts?  I’ll tell who wouldn’t – Bobby Flay.  Flay is an actual chef who runs nearly a dozen restaurants from Vegas to Nassau, owns a production company, makes countless personal appearances and stars in four TV series.  That certainly demands more time than just shooting one TV show from your home and doing the occasional book signing but I’m willing to bet that had Make-A-Wish called Flay would have been on the next flight out.

Since the story has hit the public spotlight, Garten has miraculously found a little time in her busy stay-at-home schedule to honor Enzo with her presence.  For his part Enzo says he no longer cares to spend his last few days on earth cooking scones with her royal highness.  His new last wish is to go swimming with dolphins.  Good for him.

I cannot help but contrast Garten’s callousness with what I witnessed firsthand in tiny Dauphin Island, Alabama.  Dauphin Island is a resort town of 1300 people on the Gulf of Mexico that has two industries – tourism and fishing.  Both of those were eliminated a year ago when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill struck.  Both BP and the White House have essentially Contessa’d the Gulf Coast but Good Eats host Alton Brown managed to spend an entire weekend of his time helping the Island rebound from an ecological, economic and bureaucratic nightmare.

Now if saying you cooked an entire meal for the Royals when it was only dessert results in one year of TV exile and saying you were stationed on the Afghan-front when you were actually stationed at a support facility miles from the action means you don’t ever get a cooking show at all then anything short of Food Network pulling all affiliation with Garten is unacceptable.  She’ll be okay, she still has her pal Martha Stewart to prop her “career” up.  I understand that celebrities cannot honor every single request for their time but when a dying six-year-old says that their last wish is to spend a few minutes cooking with you how do you say “no” and still sleep at night?

Next Food Network Star 6 Rehash

NFNSThe finale to Next Food Network Star Season Six is tonight so I thought I would put together an index of posts to remind us just how we got here:

Next Food Network Star 6 Finale

next food network starWhy does it seem like this season has been going on for years?  Maybe because this was the weakest field of NFNS contestants to date.  Of the twelve seven never stood a chance and an eighth was at best a dark horse.  So that means there were only four legitimate contestants in the whole contest: Aarti, Brad, Tom and Herb.  With the finale upon us three of those four remain – Aarti, Tom and Herb.

Many Tweeting the show and commenting on blogs across the Online have stated that they don’t really see anyone in this year’s cast that they think they could watch.  In fact that seems to be the prevailing thought with most fans of the show.  True there may not be another Guy Fieri in this group but for sure none of the final three are Aaron McCargo Jr or Amy Finley either.  And let’s be honest, other than Guy, no one really watches the shows of NFNS winners.

Here are my thoughts on the final three contestants:

Aarti Sequeira on WannabeTVchef.comAarti Sequeira – She has the most star potential.  She brings something to Food Network that they have never had, an Indian chef.  That is important because Bob Tuschman really wants an Indian show on the “big network.”  But more than that Aarti has proven she has range.  Throughout the competition she not only showed the flexibility of Indian cuisine but she also proved proficient in others having won challenges with Mediterranean, Spanish and Mexican dishes.  Just think, Food Network hasn’t had a chef who’s specialty was an Asian cuisine since Ming Tsai.  That was over a decade ago.

Herb Mesa on WannabeTVchef.comHerb Mesa – He is an immensely passionate person.  His love for his family is something that I think everyone will take away from this season.  In a country were many parents only go through the motions of parenthood, Herb attacks it with zeal.  He is also a talented chef but unfortunately I think that the direction he wants to go, healthy food, is one that the Network has tried on many occasions with little success (see Kathleen Dahlman, Ellie Krieger and Juan-Carlos Cruz before he became a murder suspect).  However, I think Herb’s point of view would make a highly successful show on the right network.  I believe he is tailor made for Planet Green.

Tom Pizzica on WannabeTVchef.comTom Pizzica –What a fricking wild card!  When Tom is on he is another Guy Fieri – humorous, stocky, funky hair and bold food.  When he is off he just flat out sucks.  Aarti I’d like to meet at a food bloggers conference, Herb I’d love to cook with but Tom . . .  Tom I want to grab a beer with.  He seems like the guy who’d sit through a marathon of South Park and then put in the movie.  One thing is for sure, in his best challenge he made a potential employer out of both Bobby Flay and Todd English.  I’d say he is already a winner.

Who do I think should win?  After what we’ve seen this season I would have to say that Aarti has earned the win but not by much.

Who do I think will win?  Again it is hard to go wrong with Aarti.  Herb and Tom, though entertaining, do not bring anything new to the Network where as Aarti brings something they’ve never had and desperately want.  Remember last year the race between Jeffrey Saad and Melissa D’Arabian was very close so ultimately, in my opinion, demographics decided the winner.

Thanks for playing:
Alexis Hernandez – went home week 1.
Doreen Fang – went home week 2.
Dzintra Dzenis – went home week 3.
Darrell “DAS” Smith – went home week 4.
Paul Young – went home week 5.
Brianna Jenkins – went home week 6.
Serena Palumbo – went home week 7.
Brad Sorenson – went home week 8.
Aria Kagan – went home week 9.

There was no real mystery in the final challenge; it’s how they always wrap things up.  Each contestant shoots a pilot for their show concept while some Food Network star acts as the director.  This year it was Rachael Ray.  I highly doubt that the final challenge has ever really determined a winner.  There’s the usual curtain call of former contestants and the seriously over played, mellow dramatic, extended pause before announcing the winner (seriously reality TV producers, that trick has gone stale).

So without further eloquence I would like to congratulate The Next Food Network Star . . .

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

Aarti Sequeira
Aarti Sequeira on WannabeTVchef.com

Congratulations to Aarti. Hopefully for season 7 I’ll be in her shoes or at least some that are similar to hers only in a size 13 extra wide. Until next year NFNS’ers!

Follow Stuart via “the Online”

Sip & Chew with Mike and Stu

Add to Google

addtomyyahoo4

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.

Stu’s Latest Kindle Single is Just $2.99

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

Archives

Subscribe to this blog

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

ISO 9000 Culinary Arts Certification