Review: Chef Hunter

I have been excited about Food Network’s latest cooking competition, Chef Hunter.  A) Because it does not involve cake. 2. Because it’s real.  Finally, because I was a candidate for season one and will try again for season two.  Oh, and host Carrie McCully is a very cool lady.

McCully is the principal of Force of Nature Media, a boutique-consulting firm that specializes in recruitment and placement of culinary professionals in the United States. Carrie found her niche 15 years ago in New York City when friends who owned restaurants and clubs began asking for advice about servers’ uniforms, designs, menus, marketing and help with finding talented new chefs from her vast network of connections. Soon she realized that her passion for fine food, design and thinking outside the box, along with her innate skill of balancing tradition with foreseeable trends, was her career calling. Over the years Carrie has had the privilege of working with some stellar forces including Alain Ducasse, Terrance Brennan, Martha Stewart, Alison Price Becker, The Museum of Modern Art and Kathryn Bigelow, among others.

Here’s the gist.  There’s a restaurant that is looking for a new chef.  Maybe theirs has opened his own place, maybe theirs has retired, maybe theirs sucked.  Doesn’t matter.  Restaurants from around the country vie to have Carrie find them their new chef.  Cameras roll!

Each restaurant owner has a vision and a plan and three chefs fitting that vision go head to head to prove they are the best fit for the restaurant of the week.  In essence it is an audition for a chef’s job and there happens to be a film crew there to capture the drama.

The show started with three chefs.  They were given the task of inventing an appetizer that reflects both their point of view and the vision of the restaurant owner.  Afterwards one chef is cast off.  The other two take turns running the restaurant for a day.  Actually running the restaurant including ordering, dealing with purveyors, creating specials, cooking the current menu, expediting supervising the kitchen staff and working with the general manager.  This is the job.

My take:  Chef Hunter was exactly what I expected.  This is reality TV that is actually real.  Sure some of the responses might have been canned from time to time but that will always happen.  Sometimes someone gives a frank response at the same time a bus passes by so you have to do it over.  For the most part, though, the drama on Chef Hunter is real.  The chefs going for the position are real chefs who are actually applying for this job.  The winner actually gets the job.  That’s high drama and best of all it is not contrived.

Will it be a hit?  I hope so.  I would hate to think that people would watch crap like Cupcake Wars or Hell’s Kitchen and not watch a show this good.  I know this for sure though, I’ll be watching it.

Review: Hungry Girl

I finally got a little more quality time with the Cooking Channel so I am attempting to review several of the shows I have not seen.  This time around Hungry Girl.

Lisa Lillien has lived the food blogger’s dream as well as just about anyone.  She has a popular web site, 1M+ news letter subscribers, a best selling book and now the crowning achievement we all strive for, her on TV show.  Here’s a blurb from said web site:

Approximately 1,000,000 fans eagerly wait for Hungry Girl’s recipes, tips & tricks each weekday. What started as a daily email to friends and family has turned into a nationwide, multimedia phenomenon!  In addition to the almost one million die-hard fans subscribed to her daily emails, Lisa also reaches millions more with weekly columns on and Yahoo!, regular contributions to Redbook magazine and recurring appearances on the television shows like Rachael Ray and Extra.

Hungry GirlLillien’s focus is on low fat, low calorie fare that is easy for the home cook.  Think of her as the love child of Rachael Ray and Ellie Krieger with a splash of Melissa D’Arabian.  Her energy is understated not unlike Micheal Chiarello but with a definite soccer mom sensibility.

The show is shot in a style that is reminiscent of Food Network in the late 90’s.  The set looks like a mash-up of shows such as Sara’s Secrets, Caprial’s Kitchen and the early years of 30 Minute Meals.  The cinematography is quite good and each episode packs a lot of information into it.  Lillien has a bevy of tips and substitutions that help lower fat and calories while still maintaining food that is appetizing.  All though this may not be the kind of show to inspire professional chefs it is a great instructional series for the home cook.  It’s the kind of show that sister Food Network was built on.

Lisa is currently doing a book tour in support of her newest release 300 Under 300: 300 Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Dishes Under 300 Calories.  To see if Lisa is headed your way check out the tour dates 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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