Jeff Mauro

The Best of SoBe Wine & Food 2012

The events at SoBe are mammoth.  For those not in the know that is the nickname of the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival and it has turned into one of the premiere events, gastronomical or otherwise, in the world.  It is the Sundance of food.

Hang out with all the top Food Network, Cooking Channel stars all weekend long. All your favorite hosts and chefs were here: Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, Paula Dean, Melissa d’Arabian, Alex Guarnaschelli, Robert Irvine, Nadia G, Marc Forgione, Sunny Anderson, Anne Burrell, Jeff Mauro, Rachel Ray, The Neelys, Michael Symon, Geoffrey Zakarian and more!

Take a look back at the best that Miami had to offer as Food Network recaps a weekend of sun, sand, BBQ, small bites, sweet treats and tons of starving fans:

Hang out with all the top Food Network, Cooking Channel stars all weekend long. All your favorite hosts and chefs were here: Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, Paula Dean, Melissa d’Arabian, Alex Guarnaschelli, Robert Irvine, Nadia G, Marc Forgione, Sunny Anderson, Anne Burrell, Jeff Mauro, Rachel Ray, The Neelys, Michael Symon, Geoffrey Zakarian and more!

Take a look back at the best that Miami had to offer as we recap a weekend of sun, sand, BBQ, small bites, sweet treats and tons of starving fans.

“Sandwich King” Jeff Mauro Returns with New Season

Official Food Network Press Release:

Season Premiere Sunday, February 19th at 11am ET/PT on Food Network

NEW YORK – February 7, 2012 Jeff Mauro, season-seven Jeff Mauro Sandwich Kingwinner of Food Network Star and hoagie aficionado, returns to Food Network daytime for a second season of Sandwich King premiering Sunday, February 19th at 11am ET/PT.  Mauro takes Food Network viewers on a mouthwatering journey as he visits his favorite hometown restaurants in Chicago, including the Palace Grill, Sugar Fixé Pâtisserie and Chicago’s French Market, in search of his favorite sandwiches.  Whether it is a Deep-Fried Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich, a Fried Chicken and Waffle Sandwich, or a Cheesy Eggplant Parmesan Hero, Jeff heads back to the kitchen to add his own spin on these sandwiches and more, proving you can make any sandwich into a meal, and any meal into a sandwich.

Episodes include:
Premiering Sunday, February 19th at 11am – SEASON PREMIERE!
“Double-Dose of Cozy”

Jeff doubles up on the coziness by creating dishes that exemplify comfort food, as he heads to the Palace Grill to get the scoop on a couple of classics from his friend, George. Gooey Grilled Cheese is on the menu, and Jeff takes some of that inspiration home and does it one better with his Grilled Cheese Two Ways. Next up, the Sandwich King pairs Meatloaf with Crispy Onions on a Potato Roll, while finishing with a warm bowl of Roasted Tomato Soup.

Premiering Sunday, February 26th at 11am

As an Italian-American from Chicago, Jeff’s heart pumps red sauce. Good thing Italians are also known for their spectacular sandwiches. Jeff’s friend Paula from Danny’s Café makes his all-time favorite Italian-style sandwich, the Fried Meatball Hero. The Sandwich King soaks in some inspiration before heading home to have a whack at this special sandwich himself. When he’s done with that, it’s on to another slice of Italy, with a Cheesy Eggplant Parmesan Hero, before rounding things off with a simple Chopped Salad.

Premiering Sunday, March 4th at 11am 

“Deli Delights”

During Jeff’s formative years as a Sandwich Prince, he worked at a deli working the meat slicer, with his constant companions of corned beef, pastrami and lots of fresh rye bread.   As the Sandwich King, Jeff visits Fumare Meats in Chicago’s French Market where he gets a tasty tour of some of Fumare’s favorites, before putting together his special take on that tart and cheesy creation, the Pastrami Reuben. You can’t be truly deli without Coleslaw, so Jeff shreds up a fresh batch before slicing and stacking roast beef into a sandwich that reaches new heights of savory deliciousness.

Premiering Sunday, March 11th at 11am

“Sweet and Yummy Dessert Sandwiches”

Sandwiches can be a lot of things – but dessert?  The Sandwich King heads to innovative pastry shop Sugar Fixé Pâtisserie to prove it. With some pointers from chef and owner Cindy Summers, Jeff gets inspired to whip up a sandwich that would make Elvis proud – a crunchy, sweet, and creamy Deep-Fried Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. Next, he reinvents the ice cream sandwich by pairing ice cream with homemade chocolate turtles. Wash it down with a decadent Chocolate Cake Shake, and you’ll be ready for a nap.

Premiering Sunday, March 18th at 11am

“Bring Home the Baking”

There’s one thing all sandwiches have in common: bread. Whether white or wheat, roll or hero – good bread is essential for a good sandwich. The Sandwich King pays a visit to his Aunt Rita and Uncle Joel, who happen to run a deli & bakery, to get some ideas for dressing up the outside of the sandwich.  After a little time at the kneading board, Jeff heads back home to get yeasty with it, baking a Homemade Focaccia for a Mediterranean-inspired Grilled Chicken Sandwich and some Pretzel Bread to elevate a humble hot dog.  A show so delicious, you’ll want to eat it fresh out of the oven.

Premiering Sunday, March 25th at 11am

“Breakfast for Dinner”

Most of us think of sandwiches as lunch, but when you’re having breakfast for dinner anything goes!  Chicago’s Deluxe Diner lives up to its name, and makes one of Jeff’s favorite breakfast sandwiches, a Monte Cristo on French Toast; the Sandwich King then heads home to work the griddle and break out his own version. Later, Jeff takes the day-for-night inspiration even further and makes a sandwich as delicious as it is audacious, a Fried Chicken and Waffle Sandwich.  Finish with a side of Bacon Braised Collard Greens and you won’t care what time it is.

Revamped “Food Network Star” Begins Taping 8th Season

Food Network is giving its most successful series a total makeover.  This season Food Network Star will greatly resemble other reality cooking shows like Worst Cooks in America and Rachael vs Guy: Celebrity Cook-off with established cheflebrities taking on mentoring rolls over three teams of wannabe TV chefs none of whom are named Stuart Reb Donald.  I know.  What’s the point of even having the show, right?

From a Food Network Press Release:

Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis Joined by Alton Brown as Series Regular

NEW YORK – January 23, 2012Food Network Star returns to New York City as production begins on the eighth season of the long-running hit series, scheduled to premiere on May 13th, 2012.  The revised format brings returning favorites Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis from behind the judges table to square off with new regular Alton Brown in a three-way team competition to find the next Food Network Star.  Bobby, Giada and Alton, all television producers in addition to being culinary superstars, lead the charge to find and develop the new talent with each hand-selecting a team of five finalists, who they will produce and mentor through the ‘Star’ experience to find one winner who possesses personality and culinary chops.   In another fresh twist to the series, the viewing audience will vote before the finale to determine who will receive the ultimate prize: their own Food Network show, to be produced by their ‘Star’ team leader.

In the new format, each episode will begin with a team “Star Challenge” and the two losing teams must then send a member to the bottom two.  During the “Producer’s Challenge,” the bottom two contestants each shoot a segment with their ‘Star’ producer to be presented to the selection committee in the “pitch room.”  Returning judges Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson decide who stays and who goes, along with a roster of guest judges scheduled to join.


Food Network StarLast year’s season of Star set new precedents in seediness with contestants who never really stood a chance of winning but were clearly chosen just to create drama.  It made the show uncomfortable to watch and by far the worst season in the history of the series.  Perhaps that is what has lead to the total overhaul in format.

At the same time, there were bright spots in last year’s cast like the graceful and charming Jyll Everman, the bubbly Orchid Paulmeier and Whitney Chen who proved equally deft in the kitchen and on camera.  Eventual winner Jeff Mauro’s show debuted to great ratings and then disappeared but don’t fret, season two of The Sandwich King is currently in production.

Currently only three of the previous winning FNS shows are still on the air.  Here’s a quick review of the first seven FNS winners:

  1. Party Time with the Hearty Boys got six episodes then was canceled.  Was brought back for 13 episodes and then canceled again.
  2. Guy’s Big Bite is still in production after 120 plus episodes.
  3. The Gourmet Next Door got six episodes then was canceled.  Reportedly Food Network offered host Amy Finley 13 more episodes but she declined and moved to another country.
  4. Big Daddy’s House despite atrocious ratings lasted five seasons before being canned this past fall.
  5. Ten Dollar Dinners has to date produced more than 30 episodes over four seasons.  New episodes continue to air on Sundays while older episodes joined the M-F daytime line-up last September.  The move to the daily line-up is a strong sign that Food Network plans to many more episodes of Ten Dollar Dinners.
  6. Aarti’s Party produced 28 episodes over three seasons.  The ratings were pretty good but Food Network has moved it to the Cooking Channel in re-runs only.  Aarti has a new show in the works with season five winner Melissa D’Arabian.
  7. The Sandwich King premiered to great reviews and a second season is currently in production.

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Update on Aarti’s and Jeff’s Shows

Jeff and AartiAfter scanning a few web sites and Facebook statuses I decided to reach out to Food Network itself about the status of the last two Food Network Star winners Aarti Sequeira and Jeff Mauro.  I chatted with Krista one of the network’s PR agents.  Here’s what I asked and her response.

Is Sandwich King still in production and if so when will new episodes air?

Information regarding Sandwich King is not yet available, though you may contact us around the middle of December and we hope to have an update available.

That sounds grim right?  The ratings were extremely good.  I wonder if there are other factors at work.  Jeff hasn’t updated his web site since late August but in that post he said:

Shooting a cooking show is the most mentally taxing performance art I’ve ever attempting.  The juggling of mental and physical requirements left me exhausted at the end of the day.  One flub and you have to do another take.  As the days went on, I did get more comfortable, so hopefully, by next season (if they give one) I’ll be even better.

Til’ then, it’s back to recipe development, sandwich research (eating), and maybe a little vacation with the family.

So will there be a second season?  I have to admit that after speaking with Food Network it sure didn’t look like it.  Jeff’s dormant web site and that last post didn’t help.  So I did a little digging, talked to some other cast members from season seven and they sent me to a post by Jeff on his Facebook page just this past Saturday:

Things are really starting to move along with Sandwich King Season 2. It will be similar, but more of what worked and less of what didn’t. Regardless, it will feature amazing sandwiches and fantastic locations. I’ll keep you posted when we start shooting in December. Look for it airing sometime in January. I think I smell an Emmy..local Emmy.

Is Aarti Party still in production and if so when will new episodes air?

New episodes are not scheduled for Aarti Party as those just finished airing in September. Her show is airing on our sister network, The Cooking Channel, though an episode will air on our network on November 26th and December 3rd at 8:00am ET/PT.

Aarti remains busy and has maintained her web site as she has done for years.  It’s where she got her start.  Though Krista’s answer seemed a little vague I think the picture we get is that new episodes of Aarti Party are all but done.  Old episodes will rerun on Cooking Channel.  Aarti did announce the other day that she has a super secret new show that just started production; more on that project HERE but be forewarned, it isn’t much more.

Guy Fieri Food Network StarBut now we are back to an issue that has plagued Food Network Star since it’s inception – it’s inability to produce sustainable hit shows. With this revelation that means that, at the moment anyway, only three of the seven winning shows are still in production – Sandwich King, Guy’s Big Bite and Ten Dollar Dinners.

In terms of the volume of shows Big Daddy’s House had the longest run of any show except Big Bite; it was recently canceled.  I cannot understand what goes on at Chelsea Market sometimes.  Big Daddy’s House had poor ratings because, quite frankly, it was not a great show yet it got 60+ episodes while Aarti Party had solid ratings but only got 30.  I think I have a better shot at figuring out the complexities of the female mind than I do the complexities of food television but admittedly the prospects don’t look good for either.

There you have it.  Now talk amongst yourselves.  That’s what the comments section is for.

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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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