thomas keller

7 Questions with Manouschka Guerrier

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

This week kicks off the second season of Food Network’s racy reality show The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills.  At Big City Chefs, Beverly Hills’ premiere private chef placement agency, the only question is who is crazier: the chefs or the clientele? This group of talented chefs is on call 24-7 to cater to the exceedingly over-the-top, wacky, ridiculous and sometimes truly bizarre culinary clientele living the high-life in LA’s poshest neighborhood.

Manouschka Guerrier is the curvy, sultry femme fatale of the group. Her beauty blurs the line between classic and exotic.  Perhaps too sexy to be a real chef?  Not true.  Though Manouschka is a former model, she is all about the food, oh and the single life.  Chef Guerrier is chronicling her voyage from private to celebrity chef on her blog Single Serving.  There you’ll also find some of Manouschka’s cooking videos to help you put that diva-spin on your next party.

Recently Manouschka was kind enough to answer 7 Questions.  Ain’t she a doll?

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

Manouschka Guerrier of Private Chefs of Beverly HillsI started experimenting with flavors when I was 10, my poor brother was my first guinea pig & he still brings up my first attempt at making Chinese food when I was that age ev-ER-y chance he gets… terrible!

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

Food has always been my life but my career focus had always been in performing. Here’s the thing, as an Actor you don’t just get to come straight off a plane & land on a set. You work as a waiter, a bartender or for a catering service… something service industry related until you catch your big break.

Luckily, I worked as a bartender in this Hollywood hotspot & we catered A LOT of private events. I would sneak out from behind the bar & hang in the kitchen & the Chefs Brian Vaccarella & Keven Alan Lee would have me taste things & ask for my input & really nurtured me in understanding food preparation & presentation. They loved that I was like this sponge & we all benefited from me cruising by the kitchen & it was like an invaluable crash course in cooking school, those two changed my life. Using all this new food knowledge I started to cater intimate events for my wealthy & famous friends with my first company called “To Serve With Love” just to make extra money. I have a shoe & French cookware fetish… Mama needed some new babies, but I took it all really seriously about 2 1/2 years ago after I went through a craptastic breakup, lost my job of 9 years & a film I was supposed to star in fell through the week I was supposed to start shooting. At that time Oprah was touting this new book called “A New Earth”, I have ADHD so reading anything other than what’s on the Internet or bills is super hard for me. I’m the girl that waits for the movie to come out… HA!

Anywho, my friends were off to Honduras to chase whale sharks, I had a $1,000 weave & I’m Black… we’re not really into swimming with sharks, so I decided to join them to read the book sans distraction & regroup. 10 days later, I joined a girlfriend who was dancing for Cher. Cooked my butt off every day on this sick Wolf stove we had in our condo, everyone told me I should have my own show….

I started watching Food Network religiously for the first time while I was there. I really didn’t understand the allure of watching food on TV that you can’t eat?!?!? At that time, they were airing a Chefography marathon and THAT WAS IT! I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. Cook on TV. Long story, short, days into my 3 week Vegas adventure I got to meet Oprah Winfrey when she came to town to interview Cher & Tina & I got to thank her personally for getting me to read that book because I found my life’s calling. She wished me well on my journey & said “how cool is, it?” *swoon*. I came back home with this new purpose & immediately, playing on the newly single theme & just attacking this business venture on my own. I started a new catering company, shot a cooking show pilot with my friends Mike Kallio & Shannon Pope & launched a blog all under the name of “Single Serving”. I created a brand & the rest is history… well herstory!



3. Which chefs have influenced you the most?

When it comes to kitchen prowess, my Grandmother Olga & my Mother Jacqueline are who have influenced me the most & it wasn’t until my Grandmother passed 3 years ago did I find out she wasn’t just the best cook in the world, she was actually an accredited Chef who gave it all up to raise her six children & brought them all to this country by herself from Haiti. She put every single one of them into College & Universities like Cornell & Syracuse. She is my hero & I miss her madly. When it comes to kitchen savvy: Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson, Anthony Bourdain & Tyler Florence keep me motivated & hungry for success in food & food TV.

They are all well versed in food knowledge & are dang sexy & super passionate while still being tangible. That is such an incredible gift to posses. What I also adore about them is their authenticity. Media is just bombarded with fakes & frauds but with them what you see is what you get & they make their audience feel lucky that they are sharing their lives with them & that’s why their audience welcomes them into their home, buys their books, cooks their food & eat at the places they recommend…. they’re amazing!

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

Definitely something in the Arts. I’ve worked as a model, dancer, actor, music video girl, writer (I’ve sold 3 scripts), host… performing, like food, has always been a great love affair. The fact I get to combine both is amazing. I’m a very lucky girl.

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

There have been so many! Working for Big City Chefs & having our adventures documented for Food Network is pretty epic. The opportunities that have been awarded to me from this experience have been endless. We work like crazy & Tom Stieber is a fantastic boss. He’s super funny, supportive & honestly, I think of him as a dear friend. He really invested in me a lot this year. Another dear friend, Justin Howard, hooked me up with some super cool gigs like cooking for Selena Gomez’s 18th birthday, I absolutely fell in love with her Grandparents. They just hung with me by the grill all day to make sure I was ok… OH & her Mom makes this cheesy potato casserole dish that’s so ding dang good you might hurt your own mother if you ate it… HA!

He also got me a gig for Garnier hosted by Audrina Patridge & yes Miss Sexy Thang ate my burgers… awesome sauce! Thanks to Chef Stuart who’s also a Spokeschef (HA I love making up words) for Tupperware hooked me up with a gig to work alongside a woman I admire tremendously, superstar caterer & cookbook author Lulu Powers for a Bloomingdale’s event that was attended by Barbara Streisand, Donna Karan & James Brolin.

Manouschka Guerrier6. Of all the crazy things you’ve seen at Big City Chefs what’s the craziest?

Working for a White Witch was definitely the most bizarre experience I have EVER had both in & out of the workplace…. I tried to joke about it & told her I was a Black Witch, but I’m telling you I almost peed my pants the entire time!

7. What’s next for Chef Manouschka Guerrier?

The sky’s the limit, I tell ya. Tuesday, October 12th at 9 pm on the Food Network is the premiere of Private Chefs of Beverly Hills second season. I’m telling you this season is spectacular! The clients are definitely off the chain as opposed to last season & our culinary skills are pushed to the limits. I can’t thank the clients this season enough for what they inspired us to do & all those who are watching will not only be laughing their butts off but will be inspired as well. It really is a stellar season & I am so PROUD of everyone involved & kudos to Food Network for showcasing this side of our business. I am also launching a store on my blog with Opensky where you can buy all of my favourite things I always talk about directly from my blog JUST in time for this Holiday season. I am so thrilled with this partnership with Opensky & I’m honored that they would have me. I will be having a soft opening soon, but you can catch a sneak peek now on www.shopopensky.com.

I am also starting a Single’s cooking class which takes online dating, offline & brings you face to face as I teach you how to cook while you rotate on several dates called “Plate Dates”, It’s fun & sexy & takes the pressure off of online dating or even worse speed dating, where you have mere seconds to impress someone & you learn how to make a meal & possibly connect with someone you otherwise wouldn’t have thought you would have. I am also working on a project with my bestie & Single Serving cohort Shannon Pope, I swear without that guy I am NOTHING.

We are shooting a series for Single Serving that plays on the 7 Deadly Sins called 7 Single Servings. It chronicles 7 different aspects of one single character set in 7 sinful scenes with food. The first 3 letters in single is SIN & I’m not going to be made to feel like being single is a curse or a sin… it’s a lifestyle choice that I make no qualms about flaunting & I LOVE it! With Single Serving I want to empower other single women who are not single because someone left them, but because they chose to be allowing them opportunities to be incredible, powerful individuals that achieved all of their goals & wishes before they partnered up with the one they’re meant to share the rest of their life with. I’ll be releasing the series on my youtube channel & Facebook in less than 2 weeks. The images are amazing & shot by 3 super talented artists Diana Zollicoffer, Leyna Juliet Weber & Zak Zwerin… this thing is going to POP baby, get ready!

Can’t get enough of the folks at Big City Chefs?  Check out my exclusive interviews with Chef Brook Peterson (HERE) and Chef Sasha Perl-Raver (HERE).  The New Season of The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills Premieres Tuesday, October 12 at 9pm/8c.

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ICA: Symon vs. Fraser

iron chef america, wannabe tv chef

After a week off, Iron Chef America is back.  This week we are treated to a battle between Chef John Fraser and Iron Chef Michael Symon.  Kitchen Stadium is ready so let the battle begin.

Chef Neal FraserChef John Fraser according to StarChefs.com:

John Fraser insists he wasn’t shooting for 3-stars when he opened Dovetail; the New York Times’ starry review made him change some things, in fact. What opened as a chic but neighborhood-focused Upper West Side restaurant drew such acclaim that Fraser put his servers in ties and made a tasting menu – but the comfortable, approachable character stayed the same.

Fraser’s first exposure to the culinary industry came as he pursued a degree in anthropology from the University of California, San Diego. He worked as a bartender and line cook during the year, and spent summers in Montauk, Long Island, cooking in various American bistros. Exposure to freshly-caught fish and local Northeast produce captivated his attention, and con­firmed his inkling that a career as a chef was the right path to pursue. He proceeded to cook for two notable Los Angeles establishments, Cocco Pazzo and Raffles L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, rising through the ranks to become sous chef at both locations. Seeking to further cultivate his fine dining expertise, he moved to Napa Valley to become a chef de partie under Thomas Keller at the French Laundry.

Fraser spent two years steeping in the renowned chef’s philosophy of seasonal ingredients and playful creativity, and Keller’s influence shines through on the creative, refined dishes of Dovetail. Stages in Paris at Taillevent and L’Arpege were influential as well – they gave him a global perspective on haute cuisine, and inspired him to move to Paris for a year to return to Taillevent and Maison Blanche, and spend a year exploring the city’s food markets and learning from local restaurateurs, farmers and chefs.

Back in New York, Fraser opened an intimate Greek trattoria, Snack Taverna, with a friend, and 2 years later moved to Compass, where he drew critical acclaim, and 2 stars from The New York Times. Fraser was named one of only four young chefs to watch in America by Esquire magazine in 2006, and rave reviews for Dovetail began pouring in as soon as he opened the doors.

Judges for Battle: Cauliflower were Farmer Lee Jones, Jeffrey Steingarten, and Julie White.  In a stunning turn, Fraser took on the Iron Chef without any sous chefs so Iron Mike kicked his out as well.

READ THE INTERVIEW

I originally had this listed as Chef Neal Fraser but have since made the correction thanks to Yvonne (see comments).  If you haven’t already, check out my recent interview with Iron Chef Michael Symon.

Click HERE for the outcome.

Next week’s match-up is between Bobby Flay vs. Curtis Stone.

IACP Cookbook Awards

Originally posted on eater.com April, 23, 2010.

Last night in Portland, the International Association of Culinary Professionals held their annual cookbook awards, honoring the best in food writing, photography, design and journalism over the last year. Ruth Reichl and Kim Severson presided over hosting duties, and the big winners were: John Besh for My New Orleans in the “American” category, Thomas Keller and Dave Cruz for Ad Hoc at Home in the “Chefs and Restaurants” category, Rose Levy Beranbaum who’s Rose’s Heavenly Cakes picked up both the Peoples’ Choice award and a win in the “Baking: Savory or Sweet” category, and Reichl, who won for Gourmet Today in the “Compilations” category. Also of note: Stumptown Coffee guru Duane Sorenson picked up a Special Recognition award for community service.

BH Chef Sasha’s Tahitian Vanilla Cake

Tahitian Vanilla CakeSo the Private Chefs of Beverly Hills is blowing up.  People are eating it up (pun intended).  Gal-pal Sasha Perl-Raver is the leading search item in conjunction with the show and in episode three she unveiled a cake that is all the buzz.  Sasha recently published the recipe for her much talked about Tahitian Vanilla Cake.

After having suffered hundreds of hours of boring Food Network Cake Challenges I have finally seen a cake that I would actually like to try.  Why does this cake sound better to me than those lame Disney cakes or even the masterpieces churned out by the talented gang at Charmed City Cakes?  No F’ing fondant!  Sure it makes the cake prettier but fondant is devoid of flavor and has an uncomfortable texture.  It’s like eating glue and the last time I checked we are not supposed to eat glue.  Anyway, here is Sasha’s recipe for Tahitian Vanilla Cake.

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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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