premiere

Food Network Introduces Special Series “Cupcake Champions”

FOOD NETWORK’S FAMED BAKERS RISE TO THE OCCASION IN CUPCAKE CHAMPIONS

Former ‘Cupcake Wars’ Winners Compete in Premiere May 13th at 8pm ET/PT

PLUS Food Network Introduces Food Network Cupcakes! App for iPad® at the end of April

Cupcake WarsNEW YORK – April 9, 2012 – The crème de la crème of the cupcake world take their skills to the next level when they return to Food Network for the sweetest competition yet in five-part special series Cupcake Champion premiering Sunday, May 13th at 8pm ET/PT.  Each week, four previous Cupcake Wars winners face off in three tasty elimination challenges until only one decorator remains and wins the opportunity to showcase their cupcakes at the winning gig.  For the four winners from each episode, the competition for the coveted title of Cupcake Champion and a $50,000 cash prize culminates in the finale on Sunday, June 10th at 8pm ET/PT. These decorated bakers pull out all the stops to impress judges Candace Nelson (owner, Sprinkles Cupcakes) and Florian Bellanger (chef and co-owner, MadMac).

“The flavors, creativity, and artistry that our Champions unleashed in this high stakes competition took cupcakes to a dazzling new level,” said Bob Tuschman, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Food Network.

Over the course of five exhilarating episodes, the finest?and Cupcake Wars approved?baking masters use their cupcake creativity competing to earn the Cupcake Champion title.  In the series premiere, bakers use their “Spidey” senses to channel the famous superhero and be the star attraction at a VIP party for the hit Broadway show, SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark.  Episode two brings the lovable characters of DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wantedto life, with a special twist for the final two teams having their own Hollywood special effects designer to give their display some movie magic. In episode three, bakers aim to hit a high note with their school lunch-inspired cupcakes to serve at a wrap party for the Emmy® and Golden Globe® award-winning show, Glee!.  Episode four showcases the all-stars’ cupcakes for a party at Pixar Animation Studios, where bakers use Scottish-based ingredients inspired by the new Disney-Pixar movie BRAVE and create a royal castle filled with cupcakes.  In the star-studded finale, the champion bakers create a cupcake work of art inspired by the brightest Food Network stars. Guest judges (and Food Network Star regulars) Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson look for the “it” factor and the winner’s cupcake concoction is presented to Food Network Star mentors, Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay at the Food Network Cupakes! app for iPad® launch party.

Food Network’s Cupcake appFor cupcake fanatics, Food Network will also be launching Food Network Cupcakes! app for iPad® available on iTunes at the end of April.  Food Network Cupcakes! appfeatures over 100 delicious and creative cupcake recipes including many from Food Network stars like Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, Anne Burrell and more!  The app also includes over 30 all-new exclusive cupcake recipes from the experts at the Food Network Kitchens.  Not only can cupcake lovers access recipes to satisfy their sweet tooth, but they’ll have exclusive decorating how-to videos at their fingertips. iPad® users can download Food Network Cupcakes! App for $2.99. For more information visit www.foodnetwork.com/cupcakes

Food Network Cupcakes! takes Cupcake Champions fans into the kitchen to bring inspiration to life,” said Bob Madden, General Manager/SVP, Digital – Food Category, Scripps Networks Interactive. “Our fans of all ages look to Food Network for entertainment and ideas, and Cupcakes! is the first of many new apps that’ll give consumers fun, interactive know-how whenever and wherever they need it.”

Food Network Cupcakes!

Review: Restaurant Stakeout

Last month I wrote about a new series coming to the Food Network that wasn’t really that new.  Restaurant Stakeout was a retooling (or so it would seem) of a pilot the Network ran last fall called Mystery Diners.  Tonight there was a sneak peek of the finished product.

Food Network’s description:

Willie Degel Restaurant StakeoutFollow tough-love restaurateur Willie Degel as he busts the bad habits of struggling restaurants on Food Network’s new show, Restaurant Stakeout. See what really happens when waiters, bartenders and kitchen and service staff think no one is watching. Armed with hidden-camera footage and covert surveillance from restaurants across the country, Willie doesn’t hold anything back. He tackles kitchen hazards and impossible customers alike, but is it enough to make a difference?

My thoughts:

I could live without the Jersey Shore seediness but I guess “asshole” is de rigueur on reality TV these days.  On the whole I prefer Mystery Diners because it combined the key elements of feel-good shows like Restaurant: Impossible with gotcha shows like To Catch a Predator while Restaurant Stakeout is more about Degel’s Tony Soprano-esque personality than anything.  Mystery Diners had more substance; Restaurant Stakeout is more gimmick.

Firefly TapasEnough contrasting, the production value of Restaurant Stakeout was top notch.  The music was pretty good, the cinematography was spot on as well.  The cut-aways to Degel sitting behind a desk like Donald Trump while pontificating about service were pretty cheeky.  That being said, he was absolutely on target in his evaluation of the service team at Las Vegas’ Firefly Tapas Bar.  Sadly enough, it is a common site at most American restaurants.

There were certain scenes that just seemed acted rather than the result of hidden cameras.  In particular one argument between an experienced server and a newbie about snaking a table.  Those kind of arguments go on everyday and they get quite heated.  I’ve seen hundreds of them.  That’s why I think this one seemed staged.  The emotions seemed right but there was just something about the body language that felt off.  In fact, one of the servers in the dispute, Diane, was constantly showing up on camera doing outrageous things.  She just came off as as fake.  But most things seemed on the up and up, just not the scenes with Diane.

However both variations on this concept (Mystery Diners and Restaurant Stakeout) help demonstrate why 50% of new restaurants fail within two years – the pure, unbridled selfishness of the employees.  And that’s a very good thing.  Just knowing that you might be exposed as a thief on national television would surely put a dent in the rampant pilferage of today’s restaurant employees and their “Occupy Wall Street” sense of entitlement.  Wanting something is not the same thing as earning something.

Tune in for the series premiere Wednesday, March 14 at 10 pm EST to catch the drama.

Country Star Trisha Yearwood is Coming to Food Network

Food Network Press Release:

Grammy-Winning® Music Superstar And Best-Selling Cookbook Author Trisha Yearwood Shares Family Favorite Meals And Down-Home Recipes In Trisha’s Southern Kitchen

Six-Episode Daytime Series Premieres Saturday, April 14th at 10:30am ET/PT

Trisha YearwoodNEW YORK – March 7, 2012 – Music superstar and best-selling cookbook author Trisha Yearwood brings her family-inspired recipes and food traditions to Food Network this spring, with the premiere of the new daytime series Trisha’s Southern Kitchen on Saturday, April 14th at 10:30am ET/PT.  The series invites viewers into the kitchen with Trisha for her favorite meals, nostalgic stories and visits from family and friends.

Themed shows range from preparing traditional dishes from her childhood to planning a baby shower and a family reunion barbecue to offering tips on lightening up standard Southern recipes. Shot in Nashville, the six-episode series features Trisha’s unique how-to tips and techniques for down-home dishes like Barbecued Chicken, Uncle Wilson’s Grilled Onions, Chick-less Pot Pie and Sweet and Saltines.

“Trisha’s best known as a music legend, but her talents don’t stop there.  She’s a passionate and talented cook, whose down-to-earth style, winning recipes, and southern hospitality will charm and inspire viewers,” said Bob Tuschman, General Manager and Senior Vice President Programming, Food Network.

“For me, cooking is very connected to my family and friends,” said Yearwood.   “Every recipe on the show carries wonderful memories with my loved ones and I can’t wait to share my meals, stories and family photos with Food Network viewers.”

Trisha Yearwood, who has won three Grammy Awards®, two Academy of Country Music Awards, three Country Music Association honors and had 19 top-ten singles, released her first best-selling cookbook “Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen” (Clarkson Potter) in 2008.  Her second book “Cooking for Family and Friends (Clarkson Potter) followed in 2010.  Both books reached the #1 position on the New York Times best-seller list in the Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous category.

For more on Trisha’s Southern Kitchen check out the interview she did with CBS HERE.

“Restaurant Stakeout” Coming to Food Network

Television is a heartless bitch.

Late last year Food Network ran a pilot for a show called Mystery Diners which was produced by T Group Productions.  On MD, struggling restauranteurs called in experts to set up hidden cameras to help them curb pilferage.  The stings were conducted by the staff at BES (Business Evaluation Services) who are headquartered in Arroyo Grande, CA.  BES provides full-service secret shopper evaluation designed for businesses by a network of professionals.

I loved the concept.  Just knowing that you might be exposed as a thief on national television would surely put a dent in the rampant pilferage of today’s restaurant employees and their “Occupy Wall Street” sense of entitlement.  I even chatted with some of the crew at T Group about whether the show would be picked up or not.  They were hopeful.

New York Restauranteur Willie DegelWell, Food Network has green lighted the concept. . . only with a different production company, a different team setting up the stings, a different title, a different city and a different host.

RelativityREAL’s Restaurant Stakeout premieres March 14th on Food Network.  It’s pretty much the same premise as Mystery Diners with a geographical shift from Disneyesque SoCal to the gritty streets of New York.  That’s where we find Willie Degel owner of Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse (a NYC chain with a slightly above-average reputation – 3.5 stars from Yelp and Menu Pages, 77% “like it” from UbranSpoon) dishing out tough love Soprano’s-style.  Degal is the self-proclaimed “toughest steakhouse boss” in New York who uses hidden cameras to help problematic eateries trim the fat.  Check out this trailer he did for as-yet un-aired reality series for TruTV:

I know what you’re thinking, this guy’s a d-bag.  Well, it’s that kind of confrontational, in-your-face approach that the d-bags who steal from their employers understand and it also brings in ratings.

So how does it stack up against Mystery Diners?  We’ll just have to wait until March 14th to find out.  However, this is the same production company behind The Great Food Truck Race, a show that has serious integrity issues.  Perhaps that is why they chose the name RelativityREAL.  For more information on Restaurant Stakeout read these articles, one from the New York Post and the other from Tulsa World.  The series will air at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on the Food Network.

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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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