WTVC Exclusive: Food Network Star Justin Warner

Justin Warner Rebel with a Culinary CauseSeason 8 of Food Network Star is now but a memory.  I have made some terrific friends in this year’s cast and I have to honestly say that all 15 contestants were good enough to have a show on TV.  That’s never happened before.  That also makes Justin Warner’s run all the more impressive.

In a season where any of the fifteen contestants could have won on previous seasons, Justin eclipsed the competition.  We haven’t seen a contestant dominate FNS like Justin did since Kelsey Nixon in season four.  Despite coming in fifth (Bob Tuschman that was just wrong!) Kelsey remains the only cast member still on the Food Network payroll.  Justin was just as dominant and against an even better cast.

So who is this kid with the quirky palate and puffy red lips?

Well why don’t we let Justin tell you in his own words:

Justin’s whimsical Brooklyn eatery, Do or Dine, has already gotten the attention of the folks at Michelin and now America will be lining up to bust through its doors.  For a 28 year old he’s been quite busy.  But Justin was not too busy to answer a few of my questions.

Justin Warner Food Network StarWhat chefs (other than Alton) have had an influence on you and your cooking style?

Gabriel Kreuther of The Modern in NYC.  Masakazu Suzuki of JeJu in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Some fans may be fearful that Rebel with a Culinary Cause is going to be a reboot of Good Eats.  Can you contrast your show from the science-based cooking shows that have come before it?

I’ve never presented science as my thing.  Sure, I might know it, but I’m not here to feed that to you.  Alton Brown is.  I’m here to take those scientifically perfect dishes and make them bonkers.  I am here to expand the palate and culinary creativity of America’s hungry TV-watchers.

A lot of professionals in the culinary arts are excited about your show.  Do you feel added pressure to put out a product that not only teaches the masses but also entertains your peers?

I have never felt more pressure in my life…. but that’s what it’s all about, right?

Was there a dish that one of the other contestants prepared that really knocked your socks off?

Anything Ippy made.  He and I have similar palates.

Do you plan to have any of the other members of Team Alton on your show?

Right now I am planning on having a currywurst for lunch.  All the rest is TBD.

Food Network Star: The Wannabe TV Chef Interviews

WTVC Exclusive: Emeril Legasse

This week I was lucky enough to attend a luncheon and interview session with super star chef Emeril Legasse.  Chef was in town plugging both his new TV show Emeril’s Table and also his newest cookbook Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders.

The event was sponsored by Page & Palette and featured a menu of recipes from Emeril’s new book as prepared by the staff at The Wash House.  The menu included Chicken Pot Pie w/ Biscuit top, Mussels in a green curry, Pozole, Grits & Grillades and Key Lime Bread Pudding.  While everything was good, the mussels and Pozole were easily the best dishes.  The interview was conducted by good friend and Mobile Press Register food editor David Holloway. However, I was able to ask one question.

ME: Chef, when you first came to New Orleans you were replacing one of the nation’s great chefs in Paul Prudhomme at one of America’s most historic Emeril Legasserestaurants, Commander’s Palace.  Can you speak to what it was like taking the helm of such an important restaurant?

Emeril:  Well, and thank you for mentioning Chef Paul.  That guy is one of the real greats.  It was an honor to follow him at what is one of the truly great American restaurants.  When I took over at Commander’s I wanted to subtly make changes.  I wanted to maintain the standard already set by Chef Paul and the Brennan family but at the same time start slipping in dishes that were my own and that reflected my interpretation of Louisiana cooking.

In the kitchen, I was kind of like the coach of a football team.  If I called play 61 you don’t run play 62.  You run the play I called.  That’s how I was, I showed the way I wanted things to be done and I expected them to be done that way.  And we were making everything from scratch and by everything I mean even ketchup and mayonnaise and even Worcestershire Sauce.

I wanted everything done right and I was not tolerant of things not being done right.  When I first started I had a staff of 19, after a rough couple of days dealing with attitudes I fired nine people in one night.  Nine out of 19.  It was tough the next couple of days but I replaced them and we moved on.


See, I only needed the one question.  Chef also announced that he was about to open another new restaurant in Charlotte but I’m not sure of the name or the cuisine.  I got some footage of the event including some of David’s interview with Emeril.  Watch it:

Interview with Jennifer 8. Lee

Charlie Rose sits down with Jennifer 8. Lee, author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food:

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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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