John Besh

Holiday Sides From the Nation’s Top Chefs

Gobble, gobble is just a few weeks away. Now is the time to finalize your plans for cooking your Thanksgiving dinner. Some of the country’s best chefs go together at the Aspen Food and Wine Festival and literally talked turkey. Check it out:




Top Chefs Talk Turkey

Gobble, gobble is just a few weeks away. Now is the time to finalize your plans for cooking your Thanksgiving dinner. Some of the country’s best chefs go together at the Aspen Food and Wine Festival and literally talked turkey. Check it out:




Handicapping Next Iron Chef 4

NIC4 BannerWe’re just seven days away from the premiere of Next Iron Chef 4 and one thing is for sure, this cast is sick!  Easily the best line-up since the original NIC which included Traci de Jardins, John Besh, Gavin Kaysen, Aaron Sanchez, Chris Cosentino and eventual winner Michael Symon to name a few.

Dig this roster: Anne Burrell, Michael Chiarello, Elizabeth Faulkner, Alex Guarnaschelli, Chuck Hughes, Robert Irvine, Beau MacMillan, Spike Mendelsohn, Marcus Samuelsson and Geoffrey Zakarian.  That is some serious chef knowledge right there.  The international panel of judges is hefty as well featuring the original ‘Next Iron Chef’ Michael Symon, esteemed food journalist Simon Majumdar and UK Iron Chef Judy Joo.

Anne BurrellMy money is on Anne Burrell and here’s why:

  • Demographics.  All indications are that Cat Cora is giving up her spot in the pantheon and ideally the Network probably wants a woman to replace her.  Only a fool would think that those kinds of things do not play a part in who wins so-called reality TV contests.
  • There is currently no Iron Chef with a strong Italian cuisine background.
  • Those reasons are superfluous compared to the fact that Burrell is a ferocious competitor; ask Robert Irvine.
  • But to me this is the real kicker – Anne has competed in Kitchen Stadium some twenty times as Mario Batali’s sous chef.  There is no replacement for experience.

In the month leading up to the premiere of NIC 4 I have noticed a great deal of Anne Burrell in the news including her first cookbook (Cook Like A Rock Star available at amazon) and tons of TV appearances.  The media push included appearances on Access Hollywood and ABC’s The Chew where she announced that she was set to begin filming season nine of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef and season three of Worst Cook in America which will be co-hosted by Bobby Flay.  I’m not saying the Burrell buzz means she’ll win NIC 4 but it is worth noting.

I also wouldn’t count out Elizabeth Faulkner.  Like Forgione last year she comes in as a dark horse but she also used to be Cat’s pastry chef and has been in Kitchen Stadium a few times.  Faulkner also represents demographic gold.  NIC 4 is hosted by Alton Brown and premieres Sunday, October 30th at 9pm ET/PT.  Be sure to check out my exclusive interviews with contestant Alex Guarnaschelli HERE and judge Michael Symon HERE.


Next Iron Chef 4: Contestant Bios

Anne Burrell
NIC4 AnneAnne Burrell has always stood out in the restaurant business for her remarkable culinary talent, bold and creative dishes, and her trademark spiky blond hair. After training at New York’s Culinary Institute of America and Italy’s Culinary Institute for Foreigners, she gained hands-on experience at notable New York restaurants including Felidia, Savoy, Lumi, and Italian Wine Merchants. Anne has also battled on Food Network’s Iron Chef America as Mario Batali’s energetic and reliable sous chef. Additionally, Anne taught for three years at New York’s Institute of Culinary Education. She served as Executive Chef at New York hot-spot Centro Vinoteca from its opening in July 2007 through September 2008. She stars in Secrets of a Restaurant Chef and Worst Cooks in America on Food Network. Anne’s first cookbook, titled “Cook Like A Rock Star” (Clarkson Potter), will be released on October 4th and seeks to inspire home cooks to take charge of their kitchen and have fun while doing so.

Michael Chiarello
NIC4 MichaelMichael Chiarello is the acclaimed chef/owner of Bottega restaurant in the Napa Valley, as well as a highly-rated vintner, culinary & lifestyle trends pioneer, noted author, and Emmy®-winning television host on Food Network and Cooking Channel. He has been named Chef of the Year by both Food & Wine and the Culinary Institute of America, and his books have received awards and nominations from both IACP and James Beard Foundation. He is the tastemaker behind the NapaStyle line of artisanal foods, kitchenware and home décor, as well as the wine-grower for highly rated Chiarello Family Vineyards. His Emmy Award®-winning show Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello airs daily on Cooking Channel, and he has also appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef, as well as NBC’s The Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, Martha Stewart Living Radio, Regis & Kelly, and the San Francisco Chronicle “Inside Scoop Voices” Column.

Elizabeth Falkner
NIC4 ElizabethBesides running restaurants, Elizabeth Falkner loves culinary competition as a sport and is one of the most recognizable chefs in the culinary scene. She is currently Executive Chef and Owner of the cinematically-inspired Elizabeth Falkner’s Citizen Cake and Ice Cream Parlor and Orson restaurant and bar, both located in San Francisco. Elizabeth has received many awards for her work with pastries, including “Best Pastry Chef” from San Francisco magazine, a James Beard Award Pastry Chef nomination in 2005 and Bon Appetit Pastry Chef of the Year in 2006. Elizabeth was a competitor on Iron Chef America in 2006 and a three time competitor on Food Network’s Challenge. She was also a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, Just Desserts in the fall of 2010 and was a competitor on Top Chef Masters in 2009 and has also appeared as a judge on Top Chef Masters and Top Chef.

Alex Guarnaschelli
NIC4 AlexAs the daughter of an esteemed cookbook editor, Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli spent her childhood surrounded by food. After graduating from Barnard College in 1991, Guarnaschelli worked under acclaimed American chef, Larry Forgione. Encouraged by Forgione, Alex moved to France to study at La Varenne Culinary School in Burgundy. After school she worked for four years at the Michelin three-star restaurant Guy Savoy and moved up to sous chef at La Butte Chaillot, another Savoy establishment. After seven successful years in France, Guarnaschelli returned stateside, joining the venerable Daniel Boulud at restaurant Daniel in Manhattan as sous chef. She moved to Los Angeles for two years and worked at the acclaimed Patina restaurant in West Hollywood. In 2003, she became the executive chef at Butter Restaurant in New York, where she creates an eclectic American and green market-inspired menu. Guarnaschelli is also helming the kitchen of the much anticipated NYC modern dining and cabaret concept, The Darby. Chef Guarnaschelli has previously appeared on Food Network as both a challenger and a judge on the hit series Iron Chef America and is a judge on popular primetime series, Chopped and her own show Alex’s Day Off.

Chuck Hughes
Chuck is the multi-talented star of Cooking Channel’s Chuck’s Day Off and the owner and chef of Montreal hot-spot, Garde-Manger. His unbridled passion for entertaining translates into both unforgettable food and captivating television. Chuck loves food. So much so his favorites are tattooed on his arms: bacon, lemon meringue pie, lobster and arugula just to name a few. After going to culinary school and working in some of the hottest restaurants in town, he partnered with his two best friends and opened Garde-Manger to rave reviews and packed seating. This summer, Chuck and his partners opened their second restaurant in Montreal – Le Bremner. For Chuck, one of the most defining moments of his career took place this year when he walked into New York City’s kitchen stadium and became the youngest Canadian chef to win on Iron Chef America. He also became the only Canadian chef to beat the legendary Bobby Flay. This November, Chuck hits the road to sunny Mexico in his new series Chuck’s Week Off: Mexico.

Robert Irvine
With over twenty-five years in the culinary profession, Chef Robert Irvine has cooked his way through Europe, the Far East, the Caribbean and the Americas, in hotels and on the high seas. Irvine brings his experience to Food Network as host of Dinner: Impossible and has been previously seen on Restaurant: Impossible, and Worst Cooks in America. A native of England, Robert joined the British Royal Navy at the age of 15 and his skills in the kitchen soon came to the attention of his superiors. As part of his service for the Royal Navy, Robert was selected to work on board the Royal Yacht Britannia where the Royal Family and their entourages regularly dined. During his time training U.S. Navy chefs as part of a guest chef program, Robert worked in the White House kitchens and his creations were served to high-ranking government officials. During his career, he has also had the opportunity to serve 6,000 servicemen and women on a U.S. aircraft carrier and plan the menu for a celebrity-studded after-party at the Academy Awards. Robert is the author of two cookbooks, “Mission: Cook!” (Harper Collins, 2007) and “Impossible to Easy” (Harper Collins, 2010). Currently airing its second season, Restaurant: Impossible continues its successful run as one of the networks most popular shows where Robert attempts to save America’s most desperate restaurants from impending failure in just two days with only $10,000. Over the course of the extreme mission Robert assesses all of the restaurants facets and then overhauls their weakest spots with updates to menus, retraining staff and implementing aesthetic changes with the help of his design team before hitting the streets to tell the community about the improved restaurant.

Beau MacMillan
NIC4 BeauBeau MacMillan is the executive chef of Phoenix’s Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain and its signature restaurant, elements, inspiring his staff with his passion for fresh ingredients. His ingenuity in the kitchen is stimulated by his belief that food should not be overworked but rather appreciated for its simplicity and natural perfection. This philosophy is evident in Beau’s innovative seasonal menus that focus on fresh, local ingredients procured from a network of artisans and organic farmers. Beau’s innovation has brought elements national recognition and acclaim. In March 2006, Beau was invited to Food Network’s Kitchen Stadium to compete in an episode of the hit series Iron Chef America. Beau was pitted against Iron Chef Bobby Flay in “Battle American Kobe Beef.” Ultimately, Beau’s cuisine reigned supreme. He has also appeared on the first season of Worst Cooks in America. Beau has cooked at The James Beard House and at Bon Appetit Magazine in New York, and regularly conducts cooking classes for the guests of Sanctuary. He is also the personal chef for Wayne Gretzky and his family and has cooked for such personalities as President Bush, Britney Spears, U2, Michele Richard, Jacques Pepin and Michele Roux, Sr.

Spike Mendelsohn
NIC4 SpikeSpike was born in Montreal, Canada and trained at the Culinary Institute of America. He has worked with Gerard Boyer at Les Crayeres, Thomas Keller at Bouchon, The Maccioni Family at Le Cirque and was chef de cuisine at Mai House Restaurant in New York City. His latest ventures include opening his own two popular Washington D.C. restaurants, Good Stuff Eatery and We, The Pizza. He’s also released his own cookbook, The Good Stuff Cookbook. Spike has appeared in season four of Top Chef and the first season of Top Chef All-Stars and currently serves as a contributing correspondent on the CBS Early Show.

Marcus Samuelsson
NIC4 MarcusMarcus Samuelsson is an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist. His most recent restaurant is New York City’s acclaimed Red Rooster Harlem, which opened in December 2010. Chef Samuelsson has been featured on Iron Chef, Chopped All-Stars, Top Chef Masters, 24-Hour Restaurant Battle, Martha Stewart Show, Today Show, and his own television show, The Inner Chef on Discovery Network. Chef Samuelsson was recently honored as a Guest Chef at the White House under the Obama Administration, where he planned and executed the administration’s first state dinner for the first family, Prime Minister Singh of India and 400 of their guests. In December 2010, Chef Samuelsson opened Red Rooster Harlem. The restaurant celebrates the roots of American cuisine in one of New York City’s liveliest and culturally rich neighborhoods. While Chef Samuelsson has been honored by the prestigious James Beard Foundation on multiple occasions including “Rising Star Chef” (1999), “Best Chef: New York City” (2003), and “Best International Cookbook” (2007), he continues to maintain humility to the art of food and his UNICEF endeavors, working towards immunization and curbing malnutrition for children throughout the world.

Geoffrey Zakarian
NIC4 GeoffreyGeoffrey Zakarian, a master of Modern American cuisine, has presided over some of the country’s top kitchens over the past 25 years. He opened two New York City restaurants, Town and Country, both of which received three stars from The New York Times. Currently, Geoffrey is Chef/ Partner at The Lambs Club and The National in New York City, the Water Club at Borgata in Atlantic City and the newly opened Tudor House in Miami. Outside of his restaurant ventures, Zakarian’s cookbook, Town/Country: 150 Recipes for Life Around the Table was widely acclaimed when released, and he has appeared on Chopped, Chopped All-Stars, Iron Chef America, Best Thing I Ever Ate and 24-Hour Restaurant Battle on Food Network.

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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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