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Sip & Chew with Mike and Stu

Sip & Chew

Well, it isn’t quite Food Network (yet) but I am proud to announce the premiere of “Sip & Chew with Mike and Stu.”  This one-hour live radio call-in show devoted to the complete gastronomic experience will air Sundays at 8 AM (CT) on 106.5 FM radio in Mobile, AL.  My co-host, Mike Bailey, is one of the most knowledgeable wine guys in the biz and has made his bones by presenting wine in a way that regular folk can understand.  The show will stream live for those of you not in L.A. (Lower Alabama) via the station’s web site and I will be posting the shows here in the MEDIA Section. You’re welcome.

The premiere episode will air this Sunday May 5th (Cinco de Mayo).

Review: The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook

As a child I remember watching evening news footage of what the media referred to as “boat people.”  In reality they were Vietnamese and Thai refugees fleeing the violence in their homelands.  Whether they were running from the Red Menace, a tyrannical government or just tired of having their rice fields carpet-bombed I do not recall.  I do have memories of people on makeshift rafts swamped by waves and Coast Guard choppers and the older generation with their whispered-apprehension about our new neighbors.

A sizable number of those refugees and subsequent generations now call the Gulf Coast home.  The trepidation felt by those older and supposedly wiser than me has since been replace by admiration.  Sure the newcomers look different and their native language is . . . well, foreign, but they have an amazing work ethic and if there is one thing folks on the Third Coast appreciate it is hard work.  Plus their food is exciting!

Though a wok cooker-er from way back, I have done very little with Asian food professionally.  Recently, I had decided to make chicken lollipops with a Thai peanut sauce for a catering job.  I tried to duplicate flavors I had experienced at some of the great Thai restaurants in the area.  It tasted right to me, the rest of the staff loved it but I was still worried.  What if an expert on Thai food were at the wedding?  Each time I do a job like this my reputation as a chef is on the line.  I had to make sure my Thai peanut sauce was right so I whipped out my laptop and shot a quick Tweet to Jaden Hair.  In less than 140 characters she let me know I had it right.

That’s Jaden for you.  That’s why she is so beloved in the food-blogging, cookbook-writing, TV-demo’ing world.  A peaceful spirit is always lurking beneath her bubbly exterior.

It isn’t often that I get to review the work of someone I consider a friend.  Consequently I always worry that I can aptly separate friendship from the task at hand.  In this case, however, I do not have to.  When great chefs like Martin Yan and Ming Tsai praise the Steamy Kitchen Cookbook then I can rest assured that the recipes are technically sound.  And when renowned food writers like the Washington Post’s Kim O’Donnel and Michael Ruhlman give it their approval then is it safe to say the prose is sound as well.

So with objectivity no longer an issue I’ll jump right to what I love about Jaden’s book.  It teaches while it entertains.  Though Jaden was born in Hong Kong, the is not a Chinese cookbook, it is an Asian cookbook featuring flavors from Korea, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam and yes, China.

One lesson is that different cultures in Asia have vastly different cuisines.  Japanese is not Chinese.  Chinese isn’t Korean.  Another lesson that all Americans need to learn is that stuff on the steam table at the Red Dragon Buffet is far from being Chinese food.  It is American food.

steamy-kitchen-cookbookThe Steamy Kitchen Cookbook has 101 authentic or inspired Asian recipes.  It also boasts the most entertaining cookbook introduction I have ever read.  Damned clever, in fact.  And for you picture gawkers, Jaden is big into food porn, too.  Quite the accomplished food photographer, she has packed the 160 pages of the book with tons photos bursting with color and allure.

Jaden makes her home in the Tampa area with her husband, kids and a covey of culinary cohorts.  She can be seen working her gastronomic magic on TV shows like the nationally syndicated Daytime TV Show and NBC’s Today Show.  You can also just drop by the blog that started the whole Steamy Empire by clicking HERE.  Oh, yeah, buy the frickin’ book!

Food Network Shines Spotlight On Child Hunger

Official Food Network Press Release:

NEW YORK — In the wealthiest nation in the world, one in five children live in the shadow of hunger. In a new Food Network produced documentary, HUNGER HITS HOME, audiences will get a first-hand look at the crisis of childhood hunger in America through the eyes of the people on the frontlines of the battle–parents and children, anti-hunger activists, educators and politicians committed to eradicating the problem. HUNGER HITS HOME examines the causes, complications and misconceptions about childhood hunger in the United States and offers a glimpse at some of the innovative solutions being put into practice today.

Jeff Bridge's hosts "Hunger Hiuts Home"Narrated by Oscar®-winning actor and longtime anti-hunger activist Jeff Bridges, HUNGER HITS HOME is a heart-wrenching, yet empowering hour-long look at one of our nation’s little-known emergencies. An urgent call to action against this burgeoning crisis, the film is part of an ongoing partnership between Food Network and Share Our Strength, whose No Kid Hungry initiative aims to eradicate child hunger in America by 2015 by surrounding children with nutritious food where they live, learn and play.

“Producing this documentary with our partner, Share Our Strength, has been a highlight in our five-year relationship,” says Brooke Johnson, President, Food Network & Cooking Channel. “Food Network strives to entertain, inform and empower our audience with the programming we create; I can think of no better way to harness the power of Food Network’s reach than by offering our fans the chance to connect and, if they so choose, take action to join us in this important fight.”

Every day, more than 16 million children in the U.S. struggle to get enough to eat, and the ongoing economic downturn forces more and more Americans to slip beneath the poverty line. A steady job no longer guarantees a full cupboard and the stigma attached to asking for help persists, leaving already over-stressed parents facing choices they never imagined. And, in the halls of the nation’s capitol, funding cuts threaten existing assistance programs even as the need for them increases.

“This is the moment to act,” said Billy Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength. “Right now, a fifth of our youngest generation is struggling with hunger. When these kids get the food they need, they feel better, they learn more and they grow up stronger. The good news is that, together, we can make that happen.”

HUNGER HITS HOME goes on a cross-country odyssey from urban New York City and Washington, D.C., to suburban Virginia and Texas’ prosperous Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, giving viewers a bird’s-eye view of the hunger crisis through the lives of three hardworking families struggling to make ends meet. In Norfolk, Virginia, an ex-military man with four children must take a civilian job for a fraction of his service pay; a single father in Allen, Texas, is on the verge of losing his home and unable to feed his 10-year-old son; a young couple in New York City lack the access to the fresh fruits and vegetables their children desperately need. All of them have discovered that no community is immune to childhood hunger.

But HUNGER HITS HOME also offers hope for children in need. The film profiles some of America’s heroes in the continuing fight against childhood hunger, including a determined food pantry founder who makes the battle personal and an elementary school principal who refuses to let his students go hungry. It documents the work of government officials and not-for-profit leaders who will move mountains to mobilize necessary resources. With efforts large and small, these people are helping to fulfill Share Our Strength’s commitment to ending childhood hunger in America by 2015.

Each family profiled in HUNGER HITS HOME finds unique solutions to their unique problems, utilizing traditional methods like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps), innovative ideas such as subsidized Community Supported Agriculture baskets for families without access to fresh foods and in-classroom meals that ensure students get a balanced breakfast. But with problems this diverse, anti-hunger activists agree that there is no quick fix to the devastating effects of hunger on American children. They also agree that finding a solution is one of the most critical issues facing Americans today.

Food Network and Share Our Strength will host screenings in Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., in the coming weeks, offering both an advance look at and discussion on how to take action locally.

Food Network presents a Magical Elves production, HUNGER HITS HOME. Directed by Alexandra Lipsitz. Executive Producers: Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz, Alexandra Lipsitz, Kris Lindquist. Producers: Ben Mack, P.J. Davenport and Juan Carlos Saizar. Editors are Austin Flack and Jenn Viola.

Review: Bama Glama

So Food Network is once again traipsing down the road of Reality TV and farther from actual Food TV.  Their new series, Bama Glama, premiered last week.  So what’s it about?  Here’s how the Network defines it:

Friday nights on Food Network are about to get a little more fabulous. From incredible food to lush floral arrangements, Alabama event designer Scot Wedgeworth creates one-of-a-kind events in Bama Glama, a six-episode original series premiering Friday, December 16 at 8p.m. Eastern/7p.m. Central. With his signature edgy flair, unfiltered sense of humor and volatile team, Scot makes every wedding, birthday party and reception an over-the-top affair.

Bama GlamaBama Glama is remarkable in that it manages to offend me on every possible level.  First and foremost this is not a show about food.  Period.  In an episode they might spend four or five minutes discussing food.  I’m offended that this type of show is on a network that is supposed to be about food.

The acting and writing are wretched.  Perhaps “acting” isn’t the right word.  The “reading” is wretched.  Many scenes of this “reality” program feature people clearly reading (poorly) from cue cards or fighting to remember their lines.  Now I’m not saying the entire show is fake but it’s apparent that certain scenes didn’t go according to plan so they had to fabricate what they had hoped would occur naturally.  I’m offended that they think I’m so stupid I wouldn’t notice that.

Another highly offensive gimmick for the show is the inclusion of a weekly Bridezilla or Mother-of-the-Bridezilla.  You know the types, they feel that a wedding is the bride’s chance to be a princess for a day; in other words raging egomaniacs.  These women never marry for love they marry so they have can be the center of attention for a day.  Well, three days – one for each of their inevitable marriages.

A tangential word of advice to my fellow men.  If at any time during your engagement your fiance says, “Our wedding day is the most important day of our lives” your marriage is doomed.  How can it be the most important day of your lives when it is the least important day of your marriage?  The most important day of your marriage is every day after the wedding.  Now back to business.

Then there is event designer Scot Wedgeworth.  Clearly he is a very creative person.  But, Scot, whenever you have one of your extravagant ideas it doesn’t matter how many times you say “that’s how we do it in the South” it won’t make it true.  They are your very original ideas, take ownership.  But trust me, the average Alabama wedding does not include ballerinas.  I mean 75% of the state’s inhabitants are Southern Baptist, they don’t believe in dancing for any reason.

Many of the things Scot says are typically Southern, aren’t.  I know this because I’ve lived in the South my entire life – seven years in Tennessee, three in Mississippi, a few months in Florida and over three decades in Alabama.  Nothing about this show is an accurate portrayal of life in the modern South.  That blatant and deliberate misrepresentation of an entire culture offends the hell out of me.

Mystery Diners is a great show and so far it’s gotten one episode and now everyone at T Group Productions has to play the waiting game to see if the Network will pick it up.  But this dribble gets a six episode deal?  That means for the next month there is no point in watching Food Network on Fridays because they will be forcing this VH1 reject down our throats.  Now if you’ll excuse me I feel like I need to take a shower or six.

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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.

Stu’s Latest Kindle Single is Just $2.99

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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