Operation Repo

Food Network Star Exit Interview: Judson Todd Allen

The bulk of people who watch trash like Jersey Shore or Operation Repo are, I believe, largely societal parasites – people who don’t work and don’t contribute to their community.  They also do not have any disposable income.  But they do watch a lot of TV.  A lot of shows air trash so that they can attract these viewers just so they can brag about the numbers that watch to potential advertisers.

There are times when blogging Food Network Star that it effects me on a personal level.  I am often offended as a longtime fan of the network when they pull ratings stunts to attract new viewers.  One day Food Network and more importantly their advertisers will learn that while controversy attracts viewers it does not attract viewers with money.

So when FNS pulls stunts like they did last night it effects me on on a personal level.  As a fan I want the rules to be set in stone.  If they are not than it isn’t a genuine contest; it’s just another work of fiction.  I have long had trust issues with Food Network Star and last night did nothing to help that.

And I’m not alone either.  Alton Brown was noticeably upset with the last second rules change.  That’s understandable since it certainly appeared to be done simply to trim his team down to three regardless of what happened in the competition.

The Twitterverse certainly had a lot to say about the last minute rules change.  Check it out:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/MzzRandom/statuses/212028736999145473″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/SerenaPalumbo/statuses/212003635842912257″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/ron1n/status/212286374706036737″]

Judson Todd AlenThere was a point in the Pitch Room after Emily and Justin had been excused that Susie was addressing Martie and Judson.  She said, “We like and respect both of you so much.”  I am a student of body language and facial expressions.  When Susie said that statement her eyes looked up and to the left – a classic sign of deceit.  Who is the BS artist again?

There’s another reason last night’s outcome bothered me.  Judson is a very good friend of mine.  We chat all the time and have hung out together.  I can’t see visiting Chicago again without making time to meet up with him for a bite to eat.  So I didn’t just see an injustice on a reality TV show, I saw an injustice that had an effect on the life of a very good friend of mine.

But Judson is always a class act and one of the most passionate people I’ve met in this business.  He’s far from done.  See for yourself.

Is there anything in your life’s experiences that compares to competing on Food Network Star?

Hmm, I would say yes and no.  In college I pledged a traditionally black fraternity.  Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.  We are the first black Greek letter fraternity.  I went through the pledging process in college.  It was difficult.  I told myself that if I can go through this I can go through anything.  So I went into the competition thinking I pledged a fraternity; I can do this.  Yeah, not so much.

I really wasn’t ready for what Food Network Star brought my way.

What’s the number one thing you have taken away from your experience on the show?

The number one thing that I think I’ve been able to walk away with is knowing my value, embracing my new brand.  I didn’t come in with it to the show but I found it at the end of the show.  And I recognize that there’s a major, major opportunity for me to touch the lives of millions of people not only in America but around the world.

You know I was pushed into the national spotlight with Food Network Star but the journey has just begun.  I think I’m ready now.  I’m ready to tell my story, to talk about the struggles.

Weight isn’t something that you’re going to lose and then your home free.  It’s an addiction like drugs,  It’s an addiction like alcohol.  At any point in any given time you can relapse.  So it’s something that I have to be cognizant of my whole life.  This is a chance for me to really drive home that point.  I’m ready to take people on that journey of what I’ve gone through.

What was it like meeting each of the Food Network celebs?

I mean to actually be in the same room with people that I’ve admired and looked up to for a long time, wow.   Bobby is like this swagged out cool guy.  I think it’s cool because it works for him.  If I good get my hands on whoever makes Bobby’s suits, I mean he was always decked out.

How would you describe working with Alton Brown?

How lucky was I to be paired with Alton Brown?  I am on record as saying he is one of my favorites on Food Network.    You know with my quirkiness it was great working with him.  Initially working with Alton Brown was a bit intimidating but the more I got to know his heart the more I began to realize he’s in this for us.  There was a genuineness to how he actually valued us as a team.

What’s next for the “Architect of Flavor?”

I’m doing an event on Thursday with the American Cancer Society.  It’s an amazing opportunity to raise awareness about stomach cancer.  We’re going to have about 500 people in Brooklyn, NY at the Irondale Theater.  How cool is it, Macy Gray is our celebrity entertainment?  So we’re going to be working together.  She’s going to be DJ’ing and performing and I’m going to be the guest chef.

Who is your favorite food blooger to split a pie from Lou Malnati’s with?

Stu of course!  I read your blog all the time and I’m telling you it’s some deep stuff.  I’m on Team Stu.


For more on the Eat, Drink & Be Hopeful event with Judson and Macy Gray visit the web site HERE.  To keep up with what’s happening with Judson you can visit his web site HERE.  Be sure to check out all of the Star Season 8 Exit Interviews HERE.


Review – Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-off

I have to admit I was filled with revulsion the first time I saw this promo:

Rachael vs. GuyI really like Guy, I adore Rachael but I’m not a fan of has-been celebs who’ll doing anything to get back into the public eye. Hopefully I’m proven wrong and RvG is actually entertaining.  Here’s the lowdown from the FN web site:

Two of the world’s best-known culinary personalities will lead star-studded teams of amateur cooks in a fun, fast-paced culinary fight to the finish on the new Food Network prime-time series Rachael vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-Off. The six-episode show is set to premiere on January 1 at 9pm ET/PT.

The show’s all-star lineup with my thoughts in italics:

  • Summer Sanders – Two-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer and national sportscaster.  She’s hot, that’s about all I know about her.
  • Lou Diamond Phillips – Golden Globe®-nominated actor (Stand and Deliver, SGU Stargate Universe). Chavez Chavez!
  • Aaron Carter – Multi-platinum-selling recording artist and actor (Popstar, Supercross).  Never heard of her.
  • Joey Fatone – Singer, actor, television personality and founding member of top-selling supergroup ‘N Sync.  I think I speak for everyone one when I say, “Joey Fatone – he’s dead, right?”
  • Taylor Dayne – Chart-topping recording star and actress (Broadway’s Aida, television’s Nightman).  Toni Basil wasn’t available I guess.
  • Coolio – Grammy®-winning hip-hop artist.  I don’t care for most hip hop but this cat is cool. . . io.
  • Cheech Marin – Grammy-winning® comedian, screenwriter and actor (Judging Amy, Cars 2).  He said is name was Ralph, man!
  • Alyssa Campanella – Winner, Miss USA 2011 and Runner-Up, Miss Teen USA 2007.  This isn’t the funny chick from the comedy roasts?  Too bad cuz that would have been entertaining.

And here’s what I thought of the show itself:

Well it’s cool that the winnings, $50,000, go to charity.  I’m always for that.  There was also a lot of bragging by some of the celebs.  I’m never for that.

The outfits each celeb wore were cheesy at best – Cheech wearing a tye-dye T, Alyssa Campanella wearing her pageant sash (and desperately in need of a sandwich), Summer was sporting her gold medal but the two craziest were Coolio looking like, well, Coolio and Taylor Dayne, her clothes weren’t bad but the face by Dupont was frightening.  She’d been injected with so much BOTOX® and ass fat her mouth couldn’t hardly move.

Was it as seedy as Bama Glama or any of the garb on MTV?  No.  I’d rank it somewhere between wretched and dreadful, it’s certainly not interesting enough to ever watch another episode.  These folks are not great cooks and I have no interest in watching them butcher recipes, make snide remarks and constantly remind us how famous they used to be (except for Cheech – he’s an icon).

Judging by the comments flying in the Twitter stream at #RvG I’m in the minority.  Then again maybe Operation Repo is on hiatus so the slime that watches that crap just happened onto RvG by accident and saw an automaton, the fourth Jonas Brother and an anorexic cooking so they decided to stick around.  For those of you who like that kind of stuff, enjoy.  For those of you who like to cook and learn about food you might want to switch over to Cooking Channel on Sunday nights.

I guess I should predict a winner.  Since Lou Diamonds Phillips has judged a few episodes of Iron Chef (a real cooking competition), is a co-owner of a restaurant and his charity of choice is Share Our Strength (the favorite charity of Food Network) I’m going to say  Chavez Chavez FTW!

UPDATE:  Tonight was the finale.  So how did my prediction stand up?  I nailed it.  LDP.

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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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