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Review: The Minimalist with Mark Bittman

The Minimalist with Mark Bittman

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 The Minimalist.

Mark Bittman is one of the more respected food writers in the country.  He has nearly two dozen cookbooks to his credit highlighted by his popular How to Cook Everything (available at amazon) series, another food show (PBS’ Spain – On The Road Again) with Iron Chef Mario Batali and a long running column that was one of the few reasons to read the tabloid known as the New York Times.   The name of that column?  The Minimalist Apparently Bittman is such a minimalist that he figured why bother coming up with a new name.

According to the Cooking Channel web site:

With Cooking Channel’s The Minimalist, beloved food journalist and celebrated New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman brings his expertise to your kitchen with his tried-and-true recipes. From finger foods and soups to ethnic and Asian fare, Mark shares his clear and simple techniques that have made him an iconic name in American kitchens.

The show is about what I expected from Bittman.  A straight forward stand-and-stir that is low on flash but high on content.    Bittman has a calm energy that instills you confidence and a dependable knowledge of the kitchen.  He also has a dry wit (like most New Yorkers) that creeps in every now and then and if you aren’t careful you might miss it.

If you are a home cook looking to up your game The Minimalist is a prime show for helping you get to the next level.  It airs Sundays at 10:30am ET on the Cooking Channel.

Chef’s Story: Bobby Flay

Originally posted at Edible TV on January 15, 2008.

For Christmas I was lucky enough to receive a copy of a series that until now I knew nothing about. Chef’s Story is a series of in-depth interviews of prominent chefs hosted by Dorothy Hamilton, founder of The French Culinary Institute (FCI) in New York City. Among Hamilton’s esteemed guest have been prodigies like Marcus Samuelsson, and icons like Daniel Boulud, even the odd cheflebrity like Cat Cora, Anthony Bourdain, and the subject of my DVD, Bobby Flay.

Anyone who has seen Food Network’s Chefography knows that Flay was in the first graduating class at FCI and was in fact named the outstanding student in his class. Most people know that he is from Manhattan, took over his first kitchen at the age of 19, and that he is married to Law and Order: SVU star Stephanie March. But did you know that Flay once lived in Arizona, or that he once shot 42 half-hour shows in six days?

Hamilton leads off her interview by addressing Flay’s stature and drawing attention to the importance of his Spanish restaurant Bolo. She points out that Bolo was the only Spanish restaurant to have three stars from the New York Times, “making it the most acclaimed Spanish restaurant in New York City.” She also points out that Bolo opened before anyone else was doing Spanish. Bolo has since closed because the building that housed it was sold and is being torn down to make room for a luxury condo tower, but its importance is felt every time a menu features paella.

But Southwestern cuisine is what Flay is known for. However, many may not know that the New Yorker spent some time working in restaurants with Southwestern pioneer Jonathan Waxman and he further expanded his repertoire when he, “got on a plane and worked in a bunch of kitchens around the Southwest.” Many would argue that Flay is now the bell cow of Southwestern cuisine.

Flay also discusses his short lived series Food Nation and what an impact it had on him professionally. He cites that on Food Nation he wasn’t cooking, he was learning. Or as he put it he, “traveled the whole country through food.” He admits that Midtown eatery Bar Americain was born from the travels he did on the show and the many different styles of cooking to be found across the nation.

Hamilton is a knowledgeable and amiable host and as a whole the thirty minute program was brilliant and insightful. But the bonus features on the disk were just as good. For one, the complete interview did not air on TV. On the DVD you get to see it in its entirety plus you also get to see a Q&A with a group of FCI students and there is also a bonus cooking segment as well. This was my first introduction to Chef’s Story but I can assure you it will be occupying an ever increasing portion of my DVD collection.

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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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