the Secret Life of

ICA: Morimoto vs. Tila

NewICAHeader ICA: Symon vs. Johnson

Challenging Chef Jet Tila holds the Guinness World Record for World’s Largest Stir Fry. Will he throw Iron Chef Morimoto into the blazing wok, or will he be tossed to the flames?

Chef Jet Tila is extremely well respected throughout the world.  That’s probably an understatement.  Chef Jet’s Vegas restaurant Wazuzu is one of the top draws in Sin City and his prowess has seen him make guest appearances on Top Chef, The Best Of, Food Finds, The Secret Life Of, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Take Home Chef, Smart Solutions, Weekend Entertaining and more.

Here’s a piece of his bio from his web site:

Jet Tila Iron ChefLearning family traditions from his Cantonese grandmother further piqued his interest and in his early teens, Jet was making appetizers at his family’s restaurants. At 22, he was teaching cooking classes in his backyard – a phenomenon that caught the attention of the Los Angeles Times. Jet’s Le Cordon Bleu education coupled with his extensive knowledge of Asian gastronomy has given him a wide range of ideas to draw upon and a broad framework to create incomparable and innovative cuisine. In culinary school, Jet began to develop his style by seeking novel and inventive approaches to Eastern ingredients using classical French technique. Jet has also completed an intensive study program at the California Sushi Academy. Jet has written two cover stories and several articles for the Food section of the Los Angeles Times and has been featured in Los Angeles magazine.

I have yet to enjoy the flavors of Iron Chef Morimoto but I have been lucky enough to try Chef Jet’s food.  It is tremendously light and fresh with spices that perfectly toe the line between flavorful and delicate.  I would have killed a drifter to have been a judge on Battle: Seaweed.  But I wasn’t; Stefan Gates, Julie White and Michael Fernandez were.

Check below for the outcome.

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Morimoto             Tila
Taste: 27                Taste: 26
Plating: 14              Plating: 12
Originality: 14       Originality: 13
Total: 55                Total: 51

Ted Allen – the Thinking Man’s Foodie

Originally posted at Paper Palate on August 19, 2008.

Ted AllenThough some of Ted Allen’s fans may remember him from his days as the restaurant critic for Chicago magazine, most of us know him from stints on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Iron Chef: America, and Food Detectives. But Allen has been a nationally respected food and wine expert since joining the editorial staff of Esquire magazine eleven years ago.

Ted studied psychology at Purdue University, where he received a B.A. He also has an M.A. in journalism from New York University, as well as an advanced certificate from NYU’s Science and Environmental Reporting Program.  His 2000 Esquire article “This Man Survived Breast Cancer” was a finalist for the National Magazine Award, the magazine equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize.

Allen’s culinary talents and literary acumen have never been better emulsified than in his 2005 Clarkson Potter book The Food You Want to Eat: From Créme Brulee to Cocktails: Delicious Recipes for Entertaining and Everyday.  In The Food You Want to Eat, Ted rethinks calssic recipes like Old School Caesar Salad and Mustardy Barbecued Spareribs. One must-try among the 100+ recipes is the Pan-Roasted Salmon with Tomato Vinaigrette and Thai Green Chicken Curry with Vegetables.

Allen’s book has a number of fans, too: check out some of the star-studded reviews:

The Food You Want to Eat is the book you need to own. Ted Allen is your personal guide to easy entertaining, from thirst-quenching cocktails to classic desserts with a twist, and everything in between.” —Bobby Flay

The Food You Want to Eat is a great first cookbook for anyone and everyone. Ted knows his stuff—which are the best ingredients and what are the smartest, simplest, and tastiest ways to prepare them. More important is his friendliness—he demystifies the daunting mysteries of good cooking, wine pairing and fine dining.”  —Sara Moulton

“When I first picked up Ted’s book, I thought, ‘Ha! How can this man possibly know what I want to eat?’ Then I read it … OK, so he does know what I want to eat, but I bet he can’t make it the way I like it. Then I cooked from the book and … OK, somehow he does know. Accessible, tasty, educational and effortlessly elegant (think Carey Grant), this is the kind of kitchen guide you’ll want to give to all your friends. Just never lend out your own copy.” —Alton Brown

Ted recently answered a few questions for Paper Palate:

Paper Palate: You have worked in both Chicago and New York – how do the restaurant scenes differ?

Ted Allen: New York is the big stage, the biggest stage in America for a chef.  It is a tough market to succeed in because of the competition.  Chicago has a lot of important restaurants and the national press is finally catching on.

PP: What currently has your attention, culinarily speaking?

TA: Barry (Barry Rice, Ted’s Partner) and I have been really getting into the food at this Senegalese restaurant nearby.  I can’t think of the name, but it is very exciting.

PP: You are a renowned food and wine expert, your partner is an accomplished interior designer, and your list of associates includes Padma Lakshmi, Alton Brown, and Carson Kressley – what are your dinner parties like?

TA: Very casual.  We do lots of braises, roasts, and BBQ.  I try to do as much advance work as I can so I can have fun.  Our guests are usually nice, diverse, crazy, funny, and quirky.

PP: Do you have another book on the way?

TA: I just had a meeting this morning to discuss some future projects.  I have a few irons in the fire.

Photo courtesy of

Food Detectives host Ted Allen

Originally posted at Edible TV on August 19, 2008.

I guess it shows how much of a foodie geek I am that I waited with great anticipation for Food Network’s latest hit Food Detectives with Ted Allen. I was justly rewarded. Food Detectives is very entertaining and host Ted Allen is charming. He’s been a judge on every season of Top Chef (Bravo) and Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.” But Ted first hit the small screen on the much beloved Queer Eye for Straight Guy.

Today Allen is an award winning food writer and cookbook author, he is the spokesman for Robert Mondavi Private Selection, and now the host of a hit TV show. According to Allen the ratings for Food Detectives have been great. In fact, the show’s popularity is growing so much that actually had their best ratings the same night the world tuned in to watch Michael Phelps make Olympic history.

Recently, I got to speak with Ted. What I had planned to be a professional interview turned into two foodies sharing tips and stories of culinary adventure. Here’s the interview part:

What has the journey from “Queer Eye” to “Food Detectives” been like?

Things have worked out so well. Queer Eye was a hit and ran for a hundred episodes. I’ve been on every season of Top Chef and Iron Chef: America. I’ve been able to maintain a presence doing something I’m passionate about.

How did the idea of Food Detectives come to fruition?

There have been a few similar shows, the most notable being Alton Brown’s show Good Eats and there was the Secret Life of. But we felt that food lore wasn’t being done. On Good Eats, what Alton does so well is he teaches the science. Alton instructs, we explore. We test the science.

When you judge on Iron Chef and the theme ingredient is revealed do you try to figure out what you would make if you were the challenger?

Of course. Definitely. I don’t think I would think of any of the stuff Morimoto comes up with. And I’m blown away by Michael Symon. Barry (Barry Rice, Allen’s partner and an accomplished interior designer) and I have eaten at both of his restaurants in Cleveland and really enjoyed them. All of them are just amazing Mario, Cat, Bobby Flay.

Speaking of Flay, Ted offered this anecdote:

We used to live across the street from Bobby and his wife, Stephanie March. Barry had recently finished redoing our kitchen when we ran into Bobby and Stephanie on the street. They were getting ready to redo theirs so we invited them up to have a look. At one point Barry says, “You two should come over for dinner.”

I’m thinking, “there’s no way I’m cooking dinner for Bobby Flay.”

One last question, how does one become a judge on Iron Chef?

(Laughter) Get to know the guy who chooses them.

Photo courtesy of

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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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