whitney miller

Congratulations to MasterChef Winner Jennifer Behm

Tonight was the finale of MasterChef America season two.  For those who don’t watch MasterChef it bills itself as American Idol for cooks.  It’s Top Chef meets Karaoke.

Jennifer Behm MasterchefTo contrast MasterChef with Fox’s other “reality” cooking show Hell’s Kitchen, Fox packages MC as ametuers vying to be pros where HK is pros trying to reach the top of their field.  In actuality MC has a lot of professional chefs pretending to be ametuers while HK features a lot of minimum wage Whopper Floppers pretending to be chefs.  Though last year’s MasterChef winner, Whitney Miller, was a very talented home cook who is actually taking the next step, her opponent in last year’s finale, Sheetal Bhagat, was a professional chef/instructor at a Chicago cooking school.  Conversely, very few Hell’s Kitchen winners are ever heard from again.

The three finalists this year were Achiote Buffalo (stereotypical nice guy), Christian Collins (stereotypical d-bag) and Jennifer Behm (stereotypical angry chick).  The winner was the stereotypical angry chick, Jennifer Behm.

Review: Modern Hospitality by MasterChef Whitney Miller

The other day I caught an episode of Two Fat Ladies the quaint BBC cooking show hosted by corpulent culinarians Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer MasterChefPaterson.  The particular episode I watched the ladies were waxing about how much they love the food of the American South.  I couldn’t help but think Who wouldn’t?

The ladies decided to demonstrate some traditional Southern recipes for their British audience.  They then went on to cook a menu that was anything but Southern.  The Two Fat Ladies are adorable. . .  except when they are butchering your native cuisine.  That got me thinking Why is it UK’ers cannot get Southern food right?

I remember another Brit, Danny Boome, on his old show Rescue Chef for the Food Network showing up in Atlanta to help a young bride make a traditional Southern chicken dinner.  Instead the menu consisted of chipotle-marinated chicken in a cornmeal batter, mango salsa, lemon-sour cream corn muffins, black beans and a raspberry tea cocktail with Prosecco.  Innovative?  Yes.  Traditional?  Hardly.

That’s why I was so happy when my review copy of Modern Hospitality – Simple Recipes with Southern Charm by MasterChef winner Whitney Miller arrived.  Miller is from Poplarville, Mississippi which is not too far from my home in South Alabama.  I went to college just 25 miles from Poplarville.  I knew Whitney would get it right and I was not disappointed.

Modern Hopisitality by MasterChef's Whitney MillerModern Hospitality weaves recipes, tips on entertaining and wholesome narrative with effortless grace.  There are plenty of color photos of both the food and Whitney’s famous smile.  Where the MasterChef cookbook was a chrome-plated amalgamation of recipes from contestants and every judge not named Gordon this book is all Whitney.  And, because I know you’re wondering, there is a foreword by Gordon Ramsay.

Whitney’s recipes strike a perfect balance between tradition and innovation.  She takes indigenous ingredients and gives them a make over like in her Field Peas with Okra and Andouille Sausage – three great ingredients that are seldom put together. When Miller does her version of a tried and true recipe her twists are whimsical yet logical.  Like her Jalapeño Cornbread.  It is cornbread kicked up with corn kernals, cheddar cheese and fresh jalapeño.

When I say it is cornbread I mean it is real cornbread – there’s no flour and more importantly no sugar.  You can play games with the fat in order to make it healthier or more luxurious but flour and sugar are two of my pet peeves.  Well, the flour thing isn’t a peeve as much as it is a philosophical difference.  It’s CORNbread not a baguette.  The sugar, however, is non-negotiable.  Cornbread should never, ever, under any circumstances be sweet.  If you add sugar you don’t have cornbread; you have corn cake.

Here, let me show you what a real cornbread recipe looks like courtesy of Miss Whitney Miller.

Jalapeño Cornbread
Recipe Type: Side
Author: Whitney Miller
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 4 – 6
From “Modern Hospitality – Simple Recipes with Southern Charm” by MasterChef winner Whitney Miller.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups fine ground cornmeal
  • 1 TBL baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 TBL canola oil
  • 1/2 cup corn kernals
  • 3 TBL shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 TBL diced fresh jalapeño
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Mix the cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the egg, buttermilk, fat-free milk, and 1/4 cup of the oil and stir until well combined. Mix in the corn, cheese, and jalapeños.
  3. Add the remaining 1 1/2 TBL oil to 9-inch cast-iron skillet. Rub the oil around to thoroughly coat the bottom and sides of the skillet. Heat in the oven for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour in the batter.
  4. Bake until the crust is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve hot.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties

Food and sex have been kindred spirits ever since that first cro magnon man landed a mate because of his ability to hunt.  It was around 300 BC that Epicurus first equated the two in philosophical terms.  The belief that a person’s life ambition should be centered on the pursuit of modest pleasures in order to attain a state of tranquility now bares his name.  Epicureanism is the PG-13 cousin of Hedonism and has at its core the belief that one should never pass up the chance for an extravagant meal or generous lover.

Nothing has changed in the thousands of years since.  Take blogger extraordinaire Jennifer Iannolo for instance.  In addition to her work with the Gilded Fork, Jennifer has also caused quite a stir with her Sex on a Plate attitude which she exhibits on her blog Food Philosophy that is dedicated to food, sexuality and sass.  Food based television programming  is no stranger to the concept either.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comOddly enough it was the Style Network that introduced American audiences to the concept of “food porn” with the British import, Nigella Bites starring the effervescent Nigella Lawson.  The saucy Brit with the plunging neckline soon had many imitators like Food Network’s Sandra Lee, Giada De Laurentiis and Ingrid Hoffman all of whom have tastefully celebrated their ample curves.  And who can forget Cat Cora AND Rachael Ray tripping saucy in the pages of men’s magazine FHM.

That was the first wave and it was soon followed by Bravo’s Padma Lakshmi and Kelly Choi from the network’s two Top Chef franchises and two more Food Network hosts, Gina Neely and Anne Burrell.  And there has been some eye candy for the ladies like Jamie Oliver and Tyler Florence on Food Network and TLC’s Curtis Stone.  But now there is a new wave of haute cuisine hotties looking to lure more male viewers to networks whose regular viewership is predominately female.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comEarlier this year Food Network kicked it off with the Private chefs of Beverley Hills which chronicles six chefs (three male, three female including Sasha Perl-Raver who has been named one of LA’s hottest chefs) that are all considerably easy on the eyes as they cater, literally, to the BOTOX® crowd.  And of course many of their clients also look as if they just stepped out of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comNow get ready for the full court press.

Travel Channel fired first with Food Wars host Camille Ford.  Each week she takes viewers to cities across America to decide which local eatery makes the best example of their town’s signature dish.  In 2008 Camille founded Sassy Pole Girls a fitness group that uses striptease and pole dancing for exercise.  But Ford is much more than a pretty face and rock hard abs, she is the award-winning producer of the Off Broadway production Jitter.  She is also an avid adventurer often spending her free time rock climbing, kayaking, water skying, snow skying and hiking.  Camille Ford is the consummate modern woman who proves that feminism is wrong, you do not have to choose between intellectual and beautiful.  For more of Camille Ford in action watch full episodes of Food Wars online HERE.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comFood Network, not wanting to be outdone, came back with season six of The Next Food Network Star which featured a cougar (Dzintra Dzenis), a pocket hottie (Doreen Fang), a Giada clone (Serena Palumbo) and a self-proclaimed diva (Brianna Jenkins) plus three hunks – Herb Mesa, Darrell “DAS” Smith and Brad Sorenson.  Sorenson especially seemed to resonate with female viewers who gushed over his dimpled smile via Twitter and the blogsophere throughout the contest.  The young chef even made an impression on guest star Eva Longoria who openly flirted with him during one segment.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comCamille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comThey followed that up with their newest reality show, The Great Food Truck Race which pits seven lunch wagons against each other in a cross country race, ala the Cannonball Run.  Two of the teams feature ladies who are already beginning to rack up Google searches.  They are Nom Nom Truck co-owners Misa Chien (who has also been named one of LA’s hottest chefs) and Jennifer Green and Rajun Cajun’s very own Creole princess Jazmina Banionis.  While Banionis is an aspiring actress and model, Chien and Green all about the food.

Sheetal Bhagat of MasterChefEven Fox’s MasterChef has gotten into the mix.  How lucky are they that two of the fifty finalists to make the final four were the breathtakingly beautiful Sheetal Bhagat and the adorable Southern belle Whitney Miller?  Miller is a student from Poplarville, MS while Bhagat is a cooking instructor from Chicago who apparently has designs on being a star.  On her web site there are MP3’s of her original music, a gallery of photos that look straight from a Cosmo spread, her MasterChef diary and links to her cooking videos.

And “the Online” has its share of haute cuisine hotties as well.  There’s the Bikini Chef Susan Irby who’s known for her figure flattering flavors and the Kitchen Vixen Elizabeth Brown is single-handedly responsible for making “quinoa” a popular Sara O'Donnel is Average Betty and Susan Irby the Bikini Chefsafe word.  And one would be remiss to not mention the super fly red head who has a voice as so hot it could melt an iceberg, Average Betty.

Is this a trend that will continue?  Frankly, I hope so.  I know there will be critics who say that these women are just being exploited for their looks but that is just code wording for all pretty people are stupid.  I say as long as the pretty faces and muscle bound chefs can actually cook no sane person could have a problem with it.

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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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