alain ducasse

South Beach Wine & Food Festival

SoBe FestIt’s just about here again.  The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival is next month and once again the stars of the culinary world will be out in force.  Known as SoBe in culinary circles, this festival has turned into one of the premiere events, gastronomical or otherwise, in the world.  It is the Sundance of food.

The events at SoBe are mammoth.  How about a BBQ sponsored by Original MOONSHINE that’s hosted by Adam Perry Lang (Daisy May’s BBQ USA, NYC)?  Or maybe brunch with Gail Simmons and sponsored by Dolce Wines.  Do you love pasta?  Well Barilla is teaming super chef Bryan Voltaggio and Food Network’s Claire Robinson for an interactive lunch.  There’s also a SoBe Fest 2011private cocktail hour hosted by Next Food Network Star winner Aarti Sequeira.

Perrier-Jouet, makers of great champagne, host an annual cookout on the beach called Bubble Q.  This year it will be hosted by Bobby Flay featuring some great cuts from Allen Bros. – the finest steak purveyors in America.   But that’s not all.  You can get cooking tips from Ted Allen and Alex Guarnaschelli or cocktail ideas from Zane Lamphrey.  Just a few of the other cheflebrities who’ll be hanging out at SoBe are Rachael Ray, Charlie Trotter, Guy Fieri, Paula Deen, Alain Ducasse and Laura Werlin.  Heck even Ming Tsai will be there laying out a mean Dim Sum.

Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival CookbookThere is more heavy duty, high dollar, blue blooded eating going on than you would ever be able to do in just four days.  Seriously.  There are all kinds of private dinner parties, seminars and star studded happy hours going on.  Heck, this festival is so big it even has its own cookbook.  If there is a chef with a well known restaurant you can bet they’ll be at SoBe.

If you have the time and money I highly urge you to check out this amazing event.  Book your reservations HERE but remember where it says, “How did you hear about this package?” remember to put in WannabeTVchef.  Maybe they’ll send me a T-shirt or something.


ICA: Flay vs. Greenspan – Outcome

SPOILER ALERT: The following information is the outcome of Flay vs. Greenspan. If you want information on the combatants click HERE. If you are only interested in the outcome read on.

The judges for Battle: Goose were Cady Huffman, Donatella Arpaia and Andrew Knowlton.

Flay                        Greenspan
Taste: 22                     Taste: 22
Plating: 9                    Plating:  10
Originality: 8               Originality: 12
Total: 39                      Total: 44

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ICA: Flay vs. Greenspan

iron chef america, wannabe tv chef

Epic.  That is the best word to describe the pending battle between LA’s Eric Greenspan and NYC’s Bobby Flay.  This episode has “sweeps period” written all over it.  What better way to put to bed season 8, the longest and most adventurous season to date of America’s best TV cooking competition.

Eric Greenspan Iron Chef AmericaGreenspan is a fixture on the US dining scene; a bona fide star.  Greenspan was born Jersey, raised in California and forged in the kitchens of the Big Apple.  He has spent time working at Bouley, Union Pacific, Essex House and even El Bulli.  He has learned under the great chefs of our era like David Bouley, Rocco DiSpirito, Alain Ducasse and Ferran Adria.

Chef Eric’s own star burst onto the scene at Patina in Los Angeles.  At Patina, Greenspan was charged with pampering guests with seasonal tasting menus, gourmet cheeses, caviar service, and an award-winning wine list.  From there Greenspan took over the kitchen of Meson G which was like a shooting star having rocketed to the A list and then burning out all in a brief period of time.

Today Eric Greenspan is the chef/owner of the highly popular The Foundry on Melrose Place which the chef describes as “fine dining restaurant for the every day man.”  The Foundry is famous for making the best burger in LA and the best grilled cheese sandwich in the known universe.  The trip to Kitchen Stadium is one that Greenspan has been on for quite a while.  He came up just short of his goal in last year’s Next Iron Chef competition which was won by Jose Garces but now his time has come.

Foundry's ICA Tasting MenuBased on Chef Greenspan’s tasting menu for the Iron Chef viewing party at Foundry Sunday night I’m going to go out on a limb and say the secret ingredient is goose.  Of  course it could be a phony.  If so then I guess it is my goose that has been cooked.

The judges for Battle: Goose were Cady Huffman, Donatella Arpaia and Andrew Knowlton.

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

Click HERE for the outcome.

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7 Questions with Chef Gui Alinat

7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know better.

Most folks have seen Chef Gui Alinat whether they are aware of it or not.  In the commercial for there is a chef that looks too pretty to be a real chef.  Clearly he is a model or actor.  Nope, that’s Chef Gui.

Gui Alinat is an ACF Certified Executive Chef, food writer and a culinary instructor at the Art Institute of Tampa and the Jacobson Culinary Arts Academy in Tarpon Springs. He also published his first book, The Chef’s Répertoire, in January 2010.  Gui regularly contributes to the St Petersburg Times food section and Creative Loafing’s blog: Daily Loaf.

The Chef’s Répertoire has earned Gui a great deal of notoriety and accolades.  Here’s what the experts are saying about it:

“In a flash, you are reminded of a recipe or technique that you might need to reference. This book will be attached to my kitchen counter!”
Chef Ariane Daguin of D’Artagnan

Chef Gui’s répertoire is a short version of many international recipes which will delight professionals and cooks with basic culinary knowledge.”
Chef Marie-Annick Courtier, author of The Saint-Tropez Diet

“Alinat’s répertoire lists the modern classic recipes chefs must have at their fingertips. This book should be on the desk of every high-end restaurant chef.”
Chef Hugh J. McEvoy, President, Chicago Research Chefs

Chef Gui was kind enough to take time to answer 7 Questions:

1. How old were you when you first started to cook?

Gui:  Well, coming from the south of France, you never really “start” cooking. Everything revolves around food, and making it. So of course I have memories of a culture almost essentially made of long lunches at the table, family dinners, wild mushroom foraging, and pantagruelian feasts revolving around wild boar, hare and partridge. I remember learning the obscure technique of “flambadou” grilling, making grand aioli Provencal, and pitting apricot pits (yes, there is a slightly bitter, velvety, eatable nut inside the pit of an apricot) for my grandma’s jam.  But I started cooking professionally when I was 16 years old, when I went to chef school in Marseilles, France.

2. When did you decide that you wanted to make food your career?

Gui:  I actually started chef school upon recommendation from my mother, and because I didn’t know what else to do at 16 years old. All I knew was that I wanted a school as far away as possible of my hometown. Chef school was it. It’s only after the first year there that I really started to enjoy this. I stayed 6 years (chef school + 2 years of restaurant management) and really enjoyed it.

3. Which chefs have influenced you the most?

Gui:  Many. Cooking professionally is a journey. You never stop learning and looking around for what others are doing. Early on, I was impressed by the local chefs whom I worked under: chefs Gerald Passedat (now a 3 Michelin star in Marseilles), René Alloin, Michel Siepen of Le Revestel, Jean-Claude Rouyer. At the time, back in the 80s, I was influenced by the Nouvelle Cuisine chefs, especially those from the south of France like Roger Vergé and Alain Ducasse. More recently, the chefs I really admire are Michel Bras, Grant Achatz, Nobu, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Pierre Gagnaire. And of course chef Rick Tramonto of TRU who’s not only a fantastic chef but a genuinely nice person.

4. If you hadn’t followed this career path, what other career could you see yourself in?

Gui:  I think I would have directed independent movies. Or be a photographer.  Or become an interior designer.  I am very attracted by the visual aspect of things.

5. What’s the highlight of your career so far?

GA:  Besides meeting you, you mean?  Opening my own fine catering business has been an outstanding source of enjoyment, and that would probably not have happened anywhere else than in the United States. So that was a big highlight of my career. My team and I have become somewhat of a local culinary hallmark. We cooked for head of states and celebrities, and we have catered some really, really cool events, like the 300 VIP donors event at the Dali museum.  And of course, publishing my first book this year, The Chef’s Repertoire, and winning a Cordon d’Or International Culinary Award for it is a big deal for me.

6. What aspect of your professional life do you enjoy the most?

Gui:  I enjoy many parts of it. But what never ceases to attract me is the passion for crafting food. I love cooking of course, especially at home for friends and family, and I love writing.

7. What’s next for Gui Alinat?

Gui:  I am planning my second book and focusing on the promotion of my first. I’ve also been approached by a TV producing company so who knows, maybe you’ll see me somewhere else than in those cheesy eDiets commercials!

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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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