Manouschka Guerrier

Has Reality Hit Reality Food TV?

If the universe has taught us anything it’s that life is cyclical.  Greece becomes the world’s first global empire but in just a few hundred years it is replaced by Rome.  Rome lasts a few hundred years giving way to the Ottomans who then yield to Great Britain.  See what I mean?

The same is true with television programming.  Remember when westerns ruled the tube?  Of course not, if you are old enough to remember that chances are you don’t know what a blog is.  You’ve heard the names though: The Rifleman, Big Valley, Rawhide, Bonanza, Have Gun Will Travel, et al.  Every channel (all three) had several westerns.  That was followed by family sit coms, cop-buddy shows and the night-time soap opera.

The same is true for food television.  Remember when food shows featured talented chefs who taught you how to cook and actually made learning entertaining?  Then came the food contests like the original Iron Chef which was followed by Iron Chef America, Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, etc.

Chamed City CakesWhen Ace of Cakes hit the air back in 2006 it was a revelation of food programming.  Food Network had simply taken a camera crew to chronicle the everyday lives of the anything-but-everyday cake decorators at Baltimore’s Charm City Cakes.  It was an instant hit.  The Network tried to duplicate the magic a year later with Two Dudes Catering but the forced dialog and contrived tension between the owners did not resonate with viewers.  Though that copycat failed dozens have flourished like TLC’s Cake Boss, Planet Green’s Future Food, Private Chefs of Beverly Hills and the feel good mini-series The Chef Jeff Project.

A scant five years later and it appears this trend is petering out.  Just a few months ago Ace of Cakes wrapped it’s final show.  On March 3rd Food Network attempted to regain the glory of Ace with a new series about ice sculpting called Ice Brigade which features the same eye-popping creativity and a gaggle of cool characters headed by Chef Randy Finch.

Just before the premiere I spoke with Finch and asked him if Ice Brigade can do for ice sculpting what Ace of Cakes did for cake decorating?  He replied, “I tell you I really hope that it does.”  The ratings thus far have been fine but Ice does not appear to be creating the same buzz that Duff and the gang at Charmed City Cakes did when they first hit the airwaves.  This despite the fact that it is easily as entertaining in every way.

Also saying goodbye earlier this year was the Private Chefs of Beverly Hills, gone after just two seasons. PCOBH burst onto the scenes with a cast of chefs straight out of the pages of a fashion magazine (literally in the case of former model Manouschka Guerrier).  The blogosphere exploded with debates over whether the uber-demanding clients were real (they were) and proclamations as to who was everyone’s favorite chef.  They were the hottest caters in the nation by far.  Now PCOBH has gone its way like roman candles fizzing out.

The latest sign that the reality food show is waning is the recent premiere of SyFy’s new show Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen starring Chef Marcel Vigneron.  It would seem that a show about the hottest trend in food right now, molecular gastronomy, hosted by a Top Chef alum would be a cinch hit for a network that caters to the comic-con crowd.  After a tremendous media blitz the first episode failed to draw even one million viewers.  A paltry 600,000 according to TVbyTheNumbers.com.

Sasha Perl-RaverI asked PCOBH alum Sasha Perl-Raver her thoughts on the matter and she opined, “I think, if anything, reality cooking shows will only grow. The market is just starting to boom and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Next Great Restaurant might not be a hit, but Top Chef has spawned three spin offs, Masters, All-Stars and Just Desserts, Food Network gave birth to Cooking Channel.”

Sasha should know.  Not only did she star in a hit food reality show but she has also used her considerable connections in Hollywood to become a genuine TV trend spotter doing work as an entertainment reporter at NBC Universal and for SheKnows, LLC .  Sasha also maintains the very popular blog, Hollywood Bites.   So what’s her expert opinion?  “If anything, I think this is just the beginning.”

Sasha certainly knows her stuff.  While the numbers on behind-the-scenes reality food shows may be on the decline, reality food competitions are only becoming more popular.  Next Food Network Star is currently putting together its seventh season while Iron Chef America and Top Chef continue to capture ratings and both have generated popular spin-offs.  Chopped has gone from cult favorite to bona fide hit with this month’s special series, Chopped All-Stars which pits some of the network’s most popular chefs head-to-head for a $50,000 payday for the charity of their choice.  The numbers from the first two weeks were staggering as host Ted Allen recently revealed on his Facebook page, “Chopped All-Stars was the number one show on cable last Sunday: 6.3 million viewers!”

 

For more on Chopped All-Stars click HERE.

Chopped All-Stars was the number one show on cable last Sunday: 6.3 million viewers!

The TASTYs – What a Night!

It was a night of glamor, humor and networking.  It was the TASTYs!

Egyptian Theater in HollywoodWhat happens when you get Jolene Sugarbaker (the Trailer Park Queen), Average Betty, the Private Chefs of Beverly Hills, Chef John of Foodwishes and the Bikini Chef together?  I wish I could tell you.

It’s not a secret – one of those “what happens at the TASTYs stays at the TASTYs” scenarios.   Nor is it the result of alcohol-amnesia albeit not for a lack of trying.  The entire evening was such a blur that my feeble mind struggles to put things together.  My memories seem like one of those flash back episodes that sitcom’s do when everyone wants a week off.

Here’s a short rundown on the celebs I hung with:

  • Manouschka Guerrier and Sasha Perl-Raver of The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills are far more beautiful in real life than on the tube.  They are both extremely sweet as well while oozing sex appeal.  Chef Stuart O’Keeffe was also there and the few femmes not hooked on his James Bond looks were undone by his Irish brogue.
  • Jolene Sugarbaker was a huge hit in LA!  Her humor is so natural and genuine that everyone wanted their picture taken with her.  A true original who refuses to let corporate bigwigs force her into the cookie cutter molds they so love.
  • Chef Nathan Lyon of PBS’ Growing a Greener World and Discovery Health’s A Lyon in the Kitchen appears to be the next big chef sex symbol.  His easy style and and charming mannerisms were even noticeable in a town filled with those traits.  He’s also a great guy with an inspiring message about knowing the person who grows your lettuce.  This cat is also hysterically funny.
  • Average Betty, Chef John and Jolene SugarbakerSara O’Donnell, known to the world as Average Betty, was like the hippest chick in high school – funny and unpretentious.  She is the female friend that guys love to hang out with which is shocking since her long shapely legs and seductive red locks drew more second glances than the runway models on hand for the fashion side of the awards.  She was stunning!  Let that be a lesson to you model-types – eat a F’ing sandwich!
  • What can one say about Chef John?  The most humble guy ever.  He’s so good at teaching people how to cook that they never notice they are learning something.  If there is a word that sums up John it has to be “wholesome.”  Just a real guy with a charm that sneaks up on you.  And I’m not just saying that because he promised me a bottle of his wife’s new San Francisco style BBQ sauce.
  • Bobby Bognar of the History Channel’s Food Tech posses all the cool I have come to expect from musicians.  He’s as funny as a stand-up comedian, a good one, too, not like Pauly Shore.  He has that every-guy appeal that makes you want to be his friend.  He also seems like a good guy to have at your back in a bar room brawl.
  • Susan Irby the Bikini ChefSusan Irby was sporting her trademark Bikini Chef jacket with strategically placed see-through polka-dots that reveal just a hint of her hard body.  The brilliance of her jacket is that it doesn’t really offer a glimpse of the scandalous lady-parts but bewitches you with promise of more.  One photog remarked to me that she beams like the sun; an understatement.  Susan made sure I got to meet Wolfgang Puck and introduced me to the people that mattered at the pre-awards reception.  She took me into the Hollywood Hills so I could see everything LA has to offer in one awe-inspiring view.  Thanks for keeping me from looking like a rube.

This is but a capsule of the great people and sites of the evening.  There’s more to come.  I mean, I still have two more days to kill and I don’t plan on spending them tapping on a laptop from my hotel room when Los Angeles is just outside my window.  I’m off to find a taco!

LA Skyline

Chef Stuart O’Keeffe

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.

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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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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