renee forsberg

ICA: Flay vs. Hastings

Iron Chef Bobby FlayIron Chef Bobby Flay faces off against Challenger Chris Hastings, chef and owner at Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama. Judges are Anthony Anderson, Donatella Arpaia Stewart and Simon Majumdar.

It has taken 12 years but there is finally a chef from Alabama battling in Kitchen Stadium.  Why is this a big deal?  Alabama has one of the richest food traditions in the country – West Indies Salad, Fried Green Tomatoes, White BBQ Sauce, et al.  And what a chef they have chosen.

Christopher (along with wife Idie Hastings) is the chef and co-owner of the nationally celebrated Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama.  Located in a historic Chef Chris Hastings Hot and Hot Fish Clubbuilding on Birmingham’s Southside, the award-winning restaurant has earned a reputation for serving some of the finest, freshest dishes in the region.

Hastings graduated from the Johnson & Wales Culinary School in Providence, Rhode Island and then returned to the South in 1984 to work at the Atlanta Ritz Carlton.  After stints at Highlands Bar and Grill and Botega, Chef Chris moved to San Francisco, where he helped Bradley Ogden open the Lark Creek Inn.

In 1995, the Hastings returned to Birmingham to open the Hot and Hot Fish Club where Chris focused on the dinner menu and Idie used her pastry experience (earned in the kitchens of Jeremiah Towers’ Stars Café and Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio) to develop the dessert menu. Today, although the menus change daily to highlight the best possible products available, several signature items remain: the Hot and Hot Shrimp and Grits made with Country Ham, Fresh Thyme, Tomatoes and Ver Jus is always a favorite among the locals.

For more on Chef Christopher Hastings and the Hot and Hot Fish Club check out this great article from the Year of Alabama Food web site.

To see what happen when Hastings takes on Iron Chef Bobby Flay in Battle: Sausage tune into the Food Network this Sunday at 10/9 CT.  If you haven’t already be sure to check out my exclusive interview with Iron Chef Bobby Flay (HERE).

For the outcome check below.

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Flay                   Hastings
Taste: 29                Taste: 15
Plating: 12              Plating: 14
Originality: 11         Originality: 14
Total: 52                 Total: 53

ICA: Flay/Vallodolid vs. Morimoto/Zimmern

ICABanner ICA: Zakarian vs. Casanova

Two Iron Chefs are teamed up with special guests in this All-Star Kitchen Stadium battle. Marcela Valladolid, who appears on Food Network’s ‘Mexican Made Easy’ is paired with Iron Chef Bobby Flay; and Andrew Zimmern, of Travel Channel’s ‘Bizarre Foods,’ joins Iron Chef Masuhara Morimoto. Judges are Penn Jillette, Donatella Arpaia Stewart and Simon Majumdar.

Marcela ValladolidGrowing up around expert and traditional cooks in Tijuana, Mexico, Marcela was raised to be passionate about food. She jumped straight into a culinary life by working her first job at her aunt’s cooking school in Baja, Mexico. She realized she too wanted to pursue this growing love for food full time and enrolled in the Los Angeles Culinary Institute, and later graduated from the Ritz Escoffier Cooking School in Paris as a classical French pastry chef.

Marcela went on to run a catering company and teach children about the culinary arts in Tijuana. She collected recipes and applied her knowledge and skills (of her family’s cooking traditions) to map out her dreams. Marcela eventually parlayed her classical training and ability to become a food editor at Bon Appétit magazine.

Andrew Zimmern is a James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, food writer, teacher and is regarded as one of the most versatile and knowledgeable personalities in the food world. As the creator, host and co-executive Andrew Zimmernproducer of Travel Channel’s hit series, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, he travels the globe, exploring food in its own terroir.

In May 2010, Zimmern won the prestigious James Beard Award for ‘Outstanding Television Food Personality.’ He is a three-time Beard Award nominee.  Zimmern is a contributing editor at Food & Wine Magazine, an award-winning monthly columnist at Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine and a senior editor at Delta Sky Magazine. As a freelance journalist, his work has appeared in numerous national and international publications.

Bobby’s faithful (and scorching hot) sous chef Renee Forsberg joined him.  Renee and Marcella on his team?  Bobby Flay is one lucky man.  Battle: Sea Whistle Salmon should be fun.

Check below for the outcome.

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Flay/Vallodolid            Morimoto/Zimmern
Taste: 27                          Taste: 25
Plating: 11                        Plating: 14
Originality: 13                   Originality: 11
Total: 51                           Total: 50

ICA: Flay vs. Stein

NewICAHeader ICA: Flay vs. Stien

After taking a few weeks off so the sugar addicts could satisfy their Jones with some mind-numbing cake bake-offs ICA is finally back for some real cooking.  It’s the Windy City vs. the Big Apple when Chicago-based Chef Todd Stein enters Kitchen Stadium to take on Iron Chef Bobby Flay. Who’s cuisine will reign supreme?

Chef Todd Stein on Iron Chef AmericaChef Todd Stein has been a mainstay of Chi-Town’s restaurant scene for several years going back to his apprentice days at Gordon Sinclair’s self-named Gordon Restaurant.  From there he worked his way up the lardon ladder with stages at Le Bernardin and Moulin de la Vierge before being named Chef de Cuisine at MK the Restaurant in 2003.  Two years later he was promoted to executive chef.

Stein left Chicago in 2006 to take the position of Consulting Executive Chef for Minneapolis’ B.A.N.K. and a year later he was off to Sin City to run the show at David Burke Las Vegas.  In 2009 he returned to Chicago to take command of Roof, then Cibo Matto (where he was employed during taping) and ultimately to head up The Flourentine starting in 2010.

Along the way he has collected an impressive list of accolades highlighted by being named Best New Chef by Chicago magazine and making Cibo Matto a 2010 James Beard semifinalist for Best New Restaurant and Time Out Chicago’s Best Hotel Restaurant.

If you’d like to learn more about Chef Stein the good folks at Zagat sat down with him last year for a terrific interview that you can read HERE.  With a back ground in New American cuisine and classic French it is the flavors of Italy where Stein’s star shines brightest.  We’ll see how bright when he enters Kitchen Stadium to take on Iron Chef Bobby Flay in Battle Mussels.

Chef Flay was once again assisted by Sous Chef Rene Forsberg (who I believe oversees Flay’s Mesa Grill outpost in the Bahamas) and Christine Sanchez, Culinary Director of the Iron Chef’s company, Bold Food.  The two cutest sous chefs in all of Iron Chefdom, when do we get to see Renee with her own show?  The judges for this battle were Julie Chen, David Rocco and Laura Calder.

If you haven’t already be sure to check out my exclusive interview with Iron Chef Bobby Flay (HERE) or my extensive interview with judge David Rocco just before the Cooking Channel went on the air last year (HERE).

Check below for the outcome.

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Flay                              Stein
Taste: 25                     Taste: 25
Plating: 12                   Plating:  13
Originality: 12             Originality: 10
Total: 49                      Total: 48

ICA: Flay vs. Stone

iron chef america, wannabe tv chef

Epic.  That is the only word to describe the last Iron Chef America of May 2010.  Perhaps this should be called Battle: Celebrity Chef?  Bobby Flay is a master of Kitchen Stadium and he welcomes Cheflebrity Curtis Stone for the second of four consecutive new episodes.

Curtis Stone, Iron Chef, Celebrity Apprentice, Biggest LoserIf, for some strange reason, you are not familiar with Curtis Stone check  out his IMdb profile which documents his more than 100 TV appearances.  The fact that he has a profile at IMdb should tell you he’s a pretty big deal.  Most known for appearances on NBC’s two popular reality series The Biggest Loser and Celebrity Apprentice, Stone has also hosted over 70 episodes of his own shows Take Home Chef (TLC) and My Restaurant Rules (Seven Network, Australia).

But Stone is as much chef as he is celebrity.  He began cooking professionally at the age of 18 at the five-star Savoy Hotel in London.  As a young chef he worked alongside Marco Pierre White at The Café Royal and at Mirabelle.  From there he moved on to the exclusive Restaurant 301.  Stone has also been a part of four top selling cookbooks including Surfing the Menu the companion book to the eight-part mini series Stone filmed with fellow Aussie chef Ben O’Donoghue.  The guy’s got chops.

This episode is tailor-made for the ladies as it pits two of the sexiest chefs in the country.  Flay’s curly red mop and Cheshire grin have long made him eye candy for Food Network viewers while Stone was named one of the sexiest men alive by People in 2006.  Chef Curtis greatly resembles actor Owen Wilson only without the fugly nose.

How cool would it be if Brett Michaels, Summer Sanders and Holly Robinson Peete were the judges?  Well they weren’t.  Judges for Battle: Skipjack Tuna were John T. Edge, Cady Huffman and Jeffrey Steingarten.  A special condition was that each course had to feature a grilled item.  Chef Flay was once again assisted by blond bombshell Sous Chef Rene Forsberg (who I believe oversees Flay’s Mesa Grill outpost in the Bahamas).  Chef Rene was sporting her signature Pocahontas ponytails.  Also adding heat to Flay’s kitchen was the adorable Christine Sanchez, Culinary Director of the Iron Chef’s company, Bold Food.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my exclusive interview with Iron Chef Bobby Flay.

Flay and Stone have now teamed up for NBC’s new reality competition America’s Next Great Restaurant.

Click HERE for the outcome.

Surfing the Menu

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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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