Fine Living Network

Review: Fresh Food Fast with Emeril Lagasse

Emeril Legasse

I finally got a little more quality time with the Cooking Channel so I am attempting to review several of the shows I have not seen.  This time around Fresh Food Fast with Emeril Lagasse.

There are four kingpins that are responsible for the success of food-based television – James Beard, Julia Child, Graham Kerr (check out my interview with Kerr HERE) and Emeril Legasse.  Legasse was one of the chefs who formed the core of the Food Network’s early days and it was his show Emeril Live that made Food Network.  Without Legasse’s energy, humor and every-guy appeal the network probably looks different today if it survived at all.

Unfortunately, the catch phrases and schtick on Emeril Live eventually became its downfall.  The show had become a charecature of itself.  A few years back FN took it’s marquee show off the air.  For a while it moved over to the Fine Living Network in hopes that Legasse could kick up FLN’s ratings a notch.  It wasn’t enough.  Last year FLN became the Cooking Channel.  The change has proven a wise one.

There’s room on Cooking Channel for Legasse and it is not having to re-create the Emeril of old.  Fresh Food Fast is Emeril in a kitchen (a real kitchen not a set) putting together amazing recipes. Gone are the cries of BAM! and Pork Fat Rules! This Emeril is more under control, his recipes are healthier, most likely a byproduct of his Planet Green series dedicated to healthy, organic and sustainable food, Emeril Green.

While Emeril Green seemed like Legasse was being stuffed into a world that didn’t quite suit him, it did help him to find a happy medium between the calorically challenged recipes of Emeril Live and the über-wholesomeness of the recipes of Emeril GreenFresh Food Fast is that happy medium.  Sure the food is healthier than his old FN days but not as uninspired as the Planet Green show.

Best of all it is Emeril being Emeril.  He is congenial and entertaining without being over the top.  He’s doing a show for foodies again – people who don’t have to have a danceable beat and repetitive lyrics so they can blurt the chorus after just two listenings.  It’s a serious cooking show by one of the master’s of the genre.

Review: Kid in a Candy Store

Adam Gertler on WannabeTVchef.comThis is going to be a very short review.  Because the show isn’t any good?  No, not really.  It’s because the newest show from Food Network, Kid in a Candy Store, isn’t new.  Adam Gertler is just as charming as he was when he (and three other people) should have beaten out Aaron McCargo Jr. on NFNS 4.  It’s the format of the show.  There is nothing really new about it.

If you liked Food Finds, Will Work For Food, Unwrapped, Food Tech, Road Tasted (with either the Neely’s or the Deen’s), Man vs. Food, FoodCrafters, Unique Eats, Follow That Food or How’d That Get on My Plate? then you’ll like Kid in a Candy Store.  It is pretty much those shows.  Only it’s just about desserts.  I’m sure for those of you with strong sweet teeth it will be a fun variation of a tried and true formula with an amusing and talented host.  As for me, I’m not a big dessert guy.  My idea of the perfect dessert is a second cheeseburger.

It is certainly better than Cupcake Wars.

Be sure to check out this recent interview with Adam Gertler.

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Adam Gertler is a “Kid in a Candy Store”

Food Network’s new sweet treat, Kid in a Candy Store, is set to debut July 12 with NFNS 4 alum Adam Gertler playing the part of a real life Willy Wonka.  To help publicize the series the folks at did a great interview with Adam that touches on his NFNS days and what he’s done since the show ended.  Here’s a taste:

Where are you living and working now?

Kid in a Candy Store Adam Gertler on WannabeTVchef.comI’m currently living in Venice Beach, Calif., which has led to much ridicule from my East Coast friends for being a “sellout.” I will accept this moniker in exchange for the weather and being six blocks from the beach. I work (if one could call it that) all over the country in any given city on any given day.

What have you been up to since NFNS?

I began my Food Network show, Will Work for Food, right after NFNS4, and I feel like I’m still stuck in the whirlwind. I did a special for FN called Extreme Sweets, followed by a series of “Freaky” specials for Fine Living Network, including Freakiest Festivals, Freakiest Foods and Freakiest Vacations. These have all been travel shows mostly involving the world of food throughout the country.

I recently participated in episodes of Food Network Challenge and Chefs Vs. City, both of which were incredibly fun and educational experiences. Most recently I began working on Kid In A Candy Store for The Food Network. This is a show where we travel the country to discover the most delicious, creative and unusual desserts out there, which reminds me I have to call my dentist today and schedule an appointment.

What was your favorite thing about being on NFNS? And your least favorite?

I met some friends that I plan on having for the rest of my life. I got to bring the two things I love to do most in this world together and somebody put it on camera. It would be an understatement to say that being on the show was a life-changing experience. My least favorite thing about being on the show was watching the mistakes that I made on TV and just kicking myself. I often found myself saying, “Dude, did you really just do that?”, “What were you thinking?”, “Why weren’t you thinking?” and many other incredulous reactions to my behavior.

Do you keep in touch with other finalists?

I do still keep in touch with several of the finalists from my season. In the past few months I’ve hung out with Lisa Garza, Kevin Roberts, Shane Lyons and, of course, Big Daddy himself, Aaron McCargo Jr., who is just the coolest, truest, most talented dude. I’d be on his team any day.

What was the funniest/coolest/weirdest (or worst!) incident to happen behind the scenes?


WTVC Exclusive: Cooking Channel Star David Rocco

On March 31, The Fine Living Network officially becomes the Cooking Channel (aka Food Network 2).  The new network will feature new shows from old favorites like Bobby Flay and Emeril Legasse.  It will also feature a whole new crew of TV Chefs to entertain and educate our insatiable palates.

Among the new guard is Canadian Italophile David Rocco who made his mark in the Great White North with his hit shows Avventura: Journey in Italian Cuisine and Don’t Forget Your Passport.  His most popular series, David Rocco’s Dolce Vita (DRDV), will be coming to American television sets via the Cooking Channel.  Rocco has also penned two companion cookbooks for his shows: Avventura: Journeys in Italian Cuisine (Bay Books & Tapes, 2000) and David Rocco’s Dolce Vita (Harper Collins, 2008).

Recently David was nice enough to grant me a few minutes of his time for an interview so let’s all learn a little more about America’s newest cheflebrity.

WannabeTVchef: So how are you enjoying the celebrity chef hoopla?

David Rocco: (Laughs) You know it’s crazy.  It’s been good.  It’s a fun ride.  You know we’re now in our fifth season and its been one of those steady growths.  Where when the Food Network first came out it was like, “Wow. There’s a 24 hour food station kind of.  Will it have an audience?” And now it seems to be that every network that doesn’t do food wants to do food.  It’s been fun.  I was in Singapore and Hong Kong touring cuz my show airs there.  It’s a great gig when you do what you love and you get kind of rewarded for it. (Laughs) I can’t complain.

WTVC: You’ve done five seasons of DRDV for Canadian TV?

DR: We’re actually in pre-production of our fifth season.  The show airs pretty much everywhere: on National Geographic, Discovery: Travel and Living, Food Network: Canada and we now decided that we need to go after the big market.  So Food Network’s new station, the Cooking Channel, seemed to be a great fit and we’re real excited about it.

WTVC: Will these be the episodes airing on the Cooking Channel or will you be filming new episodes?

DR: Yeah, no.  It’s going to be season one which has some great episodes and was a lot of fun so it’ll start at the beginning and work your way up.

WTVC: So what can American viewers look forward to when watching DRDV?

DR: Well I think it’s a unique series in that in North America there’s not a lot of series that shoot in one city.  I live part-time in Florence so we basically shoot the entire series on location.  The first couple of seasons we’re actually cooking in our flat in Florence so I think you really can get a sense of the Italian lifestyle, of the food, you know of the simplicity of the recipes and if you’re just looking to escape for a half hour in Florence and the joy of learning a dish or two as well I think it’s really fun.

WTVC: I’ve watched the highlight reel of the first season on your web site and the kitchen seemed awfully small, was that the one at your flat?

DR: Yeah.  Yeah the European flats are much smaller but you know the stuff that comes out of them is pretty damned good so you know it’s a different kind of lifestyle, the European lifestyle.  I mean what’s great is that you know a lot of the stuff comes from the markets, the open air markets and we do some traveling.  We’re on the Amalfi Coast, we’re in Sicily so you get to see a lot of great places as well.

WTVC: How do you see your life changing with your expansion into the US market?

DR: I think we’ve built the foundation for some good stuff and Canada has been a good test market, the cultures are so similar.  We’re kind of like cousins.  I think with the show having done so well here that our cookbook, which is the companion to the TV series, became a best seller here.  It won the Gourmand award (Gourmand World Cookbook Award) so it’s stuff when it goes into the US will just be well accepted and hopefully I get super busy and hopefully enjoy it all.  (Laughs) I’m not sure what to expect, you know.  It’s going to be different so we’ll just kind of ride with it.

WTVC: Do you own a restaurant or can we expect to see you opening one soon?

DR: I love the restaurant business.  It’s always been, obviously, a passion of mine.  But I’m the executive producer of the production company that does the show so we come from a different background.  Obviously a food background as well but our core business is media productions and we have a couple of other shows in development.  There’s always the interest in doing a restaurant clearly, but the time I’d want to spend in the restaurant in terms of proper attention and love would definitely take me away form my core business which is the production company.  It’s a struggle but maybe one day I’d be able to do something and have a happy medium.

WTVC: The new network debuts May 31st. When is the premiere of DRDV?

DR: I believe it’s on that day.  I think, the schedule hasn’t been released.  Actually I’m going to be in New York next week with meetings.

WTVC: Emeril has his pork fat, Rachael Ray her EVOO and Paula Deen loves her some butter.  What’s your favorite lipid?

DR: I’d have to side with Rachael; extra virgin olive oil is where it’s at for me.  Paula Deen would probably be a sad women if she came to my house.  Very little butter is used and very little butter’s in our fridge.

For a taste of David Rocco’s Dolce Vita check out this video:

Avventura: Journeys in Italian Cuisine

David Rocco’s Dolce Vita premieres Monday May 31st at 3ET/2CT.

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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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