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Diane Hendricks will host the Culinary Battles Finale to find the best Asian chef in the country
The Culinary Battles Finale for 'Supreme Asian Chef' will take place at Caesar's Palace on April 26th.
Chef and culinary nutrition expert Diane Hendricks has been announced as the host of the Culinary Battles Finale, which will decide the ‘Supreme Asian Chef’ out of top contenders from the East and West Coasts. The grand finale will take place at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas on April 26th.
Representing the East Coast are Jay Cho and Dave Park, who won the semifinal round in Atlantic City. Cho is currently obtaining his degree from the Culinary Institute of America and has worked in restaurants in Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Seoul.
Dave Park has worked previously under Grant Achatz, Takashi Yagihashi, and is set to open his restaurant ‘hanbun’ in Chicago next spring.
Representing the West Coast are Chris Oh and Perry Cheung. Chef Oh is the chef behind Seoul Sausage and has previously won competitions on Cutthroat Kitchen and Knife Fight. Perry Cheung is the owner of Phorage restaurant in Los Angeles.
Judges will include Master Chef Joe Poon, Iron Chef challenger and celebrity chef Jet Tila, and James Beard award-winning food writer Damon Gambuto.
“I am thrilled to showcase Asian cuisine along with an entertainment giant such as Caesars,” said Hendricks. “Everyone loves and deserves good food and this is a wonderful platform to celebrate the Asian community, culture, and cuisine.”
The Culinary Battles Finale is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Reserve tickets now.
Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.
How American Cuisine Became a Melting Pot
The State of the Food Industry Is Rotten
Ina Garten’s Quarantine Playbook
Initially, Taste the Nation wasn’t even supposed to be about food. After the 2016 election, she told Eater, Lakshmi was working with the American Civil Liberties Union and had decided to research a project on immigration, as an immigrant who was offended by the rhetoric coming out of the White House. She landed on food as a way to become more intimately acquainted with some of the communities she wanted to investigate. But what becomes clear through the series’s 10 episodes is how distinctly American cuisine encapsulates a paradox, in which dishes made by immigrants are quickly appropriated as national staples while the people who make them are rejected over generations. Perhaps because a country founded on the violent displacement of Native Americans will always expect violence from successive new arrivals, wave after wave of immigrants has tried to use food as a pacifying, neutralizing force. “It’s all ‘Don’t be scared of us,’” is how the comedian Ali Wong characterizes Americanized Chinese food to Lakshmi as the pair eat their way through San Francisco’s Chinatown. At the end of the El Paso episode, Lakshmi idly mulls why shared tastes can’t bring people together in a more substantial way. “Who,” she ponders, “doesn’t love a taco?”
This knife-edge dance between adoption and rejection comes to define Taste the Nation, as Lakshmi considers what a particular dish or place reveals about immigration, assimilation, and the hunger for home. In Milwaukee, she examines how the seemingly effortless absorption of hot dogs and lager as American staples belies an uneasy history of German immigration to the United States. In an episode dedicated to chop suey, a dish almost totally removed from authentic Chinese cooking, she explores its enthusiastic U.S. adoption in the 19th century even as Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred immigrants from China for decades. “How do you convey who you really are in a place where nobody understands you?” Lakshmi asks in one episode. Taste the Nation also conveys how often authenticity and uniqueness have to be sacrificed in the quest to be accepted.
At home, in New York, Lakshmi shares her mother’s story of coming to this country in search of a better life, and cooks coriander chicken with a pioneer in the mainstreaming of Indian food, Madhur Jaffrey. Lakshmi is particularly attuned to the women she interviews, and to their understanding of food as a totem of love, security, and prosperity. “Your mom was like me,” a Peruvian immigrant named Aida tells Lakshmi in one scene, raising a toast to the bravery of another woman who made a leap into the unknown. Saipin Chutima, who has become the doyenne of high-end Thai cuisine in Las Vegas, explains that when American diners initially rejected her cooking because they were used to greasy, inexpensive Thai fare, “I was not afraid, because I have 10 fingers I can do anything.”
In the series’s most striking episodes, Lakshmi looks at communities whose traditions and history tend not to be included in kitschy celebrations of culinary Americana. One features the Gullah Geechee people of the southern coast, described by Lakshmi as among “the most beautiful cultures you may have never heard of,” whose ancestors were enslaved and transported to America to turn swampland into rice fields. With the culinary historian Michael Twitty, Lakshmi makes red rice, a meal whose varying components traditionally came from whatever happened to be available. At this point in history, the dish has been so broadly incorporated into southern cooking that even Martha Stewart has a recipe for it. But as Lakshmi and Twitty prepare it, the context they provide adds fraught symbolism: the wealth of the early American economy built on the blood and forced labor of enslaved people. It’s this quality, the particular “dichotomy of the splendor and the suffering,” Lakshmi argues, that truly defines American cuisine as a whole.
Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives the show isn’t. Still, for all the comparisons it has garnered to adventuristic travelogues like Parts Unknown, Taste the Nation kept reminding me of Guy Fieri’s long-running Food Network series, an unabashedly populist celebration of “real” American food. Fieri, with his cherry-red hot rods and his unique bowling-shirt chic, is the antithesis of a food snob, as enamored of a deep fryer as he is of a farm-to-table joint. His conception of American cuisine has always been an inclusive one. Bosnian refugees, Jamaican matriarchs, British purveyors of pub fare—all are welcome in Flavortown. But while Fieri makes acceptance seem easy, Lakshmi exposes the overlooked battles that have defined the making of the American melting pot. She documents how Indigenous food traditions were lost when Native Americans were forcibly removed from their land and given government-supplied commodity foods that made them sick. She considers questions of food sovereignty, colonization, and trauma. She does all this with a kind of educated breeziness, and speech peppered with colloquial “dudes” and “mans” that resists heaviness, but respects viewers’ ability to figure things out for themselves.
At the end of the El Paso episode, Lakshmi interviews Maynard Haddad, a second-generation Syrian American entrepreneur who owns the H&H Car Wash and Coffee Shop, a Tex-Mex restaurant. Haddad employs a number of Mexican cooks who cross the border every day to get to work. He also voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and expresses no reservations about doing so, although he’s irked by how much harder his chefs’ commutes have become. Lakshmi doesn’t press him on the disconnect. She wanted, she told Eater, to document his point of view, not try to manipulate it. She’s been criticized for this unwillingness to hold to account someone with views that directly threaten his staff’s lives and livelihoods, and for her faintly platitudinous conclusion that food might be able to unite people divided by much more than physical borders. But the episode has already exposed the conflict at the heart of American cooking, the inequity of a culture that gets to selectively take and absorb whatever it wants without having to offer anything significant in return. Haddad can profit from Mexican food and the labor of migrant workers while directly betraying those same employees because that’s exactly what American cuisine has always done.
I'm Todd Wilbur, Chronic Food Hacker
For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.
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This delicious crispy chicken in a citrusy sweet-and-sour chicken is the most popular dish at the huge Chinese take-out chain. Panda Express cooks all of its food in woks. If you don't have one of those, you can use a heavy skillet or a large saute pan.
Menu Description: "Quickly-cooked steak with scallions and garlic."
Beef lovers go crazy over this one at the restaurant. Flank steak is cut into bite-sized chunks against the grain, then it's lightly dusted with potato starch (in our case we'll use cornstarch), flash-fried in oil, and doused with an amazing sweet soy garlic sauce. The beef comes out tender as can be, and the simple sauce sings to your taste buds. I designed this recipe to use a wok, but if you don't have one a saute pan will suffice (you may need to add more oil to the pan to cover the beef in the flash-frying step). P. F. Chang's secret sauce is what makes this dish so good, and it's versatile. If you don't dig beef, you can substitute with chicken. Or you can brush it on grilled salmon.
I've cloned a lot of the best dishes from P.F. Chang's. Click here to see if I coped your favorite.
I never thought dinner rolls were something I could get excited about until I got my hand into the breadbasket at Texas Roadhouse. The rolls are fresh out of the oven and they hit the table when you do, so there’s no waiting to tear into a magnificently gooey sweet roll topped with soft cinnamon butter. The first bite you take will make you think of a fresh cinnamon roll, and then you can’t stop eating it. And when the first roll’s gone, you are powerless to resist grabbing for just one more. But it’s never just one more. It’s two or three more, plus a few extra to take home for tomorrow.
Discovering the secret to making rolls at home that taste as good as the real ones involved making numerous batches of dough, each one sweeter than the last (sweetened with sugar, not honey—I checked), until a very sticky batch, proofed for 2 hours, produced exactly what I was looking for. You can make the dough with a stand mixer or a handheld one, the only difference being that you must knead the dough by hand without a stand mixer. When working with the dough add a little bit of flour at a time to keep it from sticking, and just know that the dough will be less sticky and more workable after the first rise.
Roll the dough out and measure it as specified here, and after a final proofing and a quick bake—plus a generous brushing of butter on the tops—you will produce dinner rolls that look and taste just like the best rolls I’ve had at any famous American dinner chain.
Getting a table at the 123-year-old original Rao’s restaurant in New York City is next to impossible. The tables are “owned” by regulars who schedule their meals months in advance, so every table is full every night, and that’s the way it’s been for the last 38 years. The only way an outsider would get to taste the restaurant’s fresh marinara sauce is to be invited by a regular.
If that isn’t in the stars for you, you could buy a bottle of the sauce at your local market (if they even have it). It won't be fresh, and it's likely to be the most expensive sauce in the store, but it still has that great Rao's taste. An even better solution is to copy the sauce for yourself using this new and very easy hack.
The current co-owner of Rao’s, Frank Pellegrino Jr., told Bon Appetit in 2015 that the famous marinara sauce was created by his grandmother many years ago, and the sauce you buy in stores is the same recipe served in his restaurants. The ingredients are common, but correctly choosing the main ingredient—tomatoes—is important. Try to find San Marzano-style whole canned tomatoes, preferably from Italy. They are a little more expensive than typical canned tomatoes, but they will give you some great sauce.
After 30 minutes of cooking, you’ll end up with about the same amount of sauce as in a large jar of the real thing. Your version will likely be just a little bit brighter and better than the bottled stuff, thanks to the fresh ingredients. But now you can eat it anytime you want, with no reservations, at a table you own.
You might also like my #1 recipe of 2019, Texas Roadhouse Rolls.
This 220-unit downscaled version of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro targets the lunch crowd with a smaller menu that features bento boxes, bowls, and small plates. The bestseller on the menu is this orange chicken, which I have to say is pretty damn good orange chicken. Obviously, a clone is needed for this one, stat.
The name “Wei Better Orange Chicken” is a competitive callout to Panda Express's signature orange chicken, which is made with pre-breaded and frozen chicken. Pei Wei claims its orange chicken is prepared each day from scratch with chicken that is never frozen, so we’ll craft our clone the same way. But rather than assemble the dish in a wok over a high-flame fast stove like they do at the restaurant, we’ll prepare the sauce and chicken separately, then toss them with fresh orange wedges just before serving.
By the way, this dish goes very well with white or brown rice, so don’t forget to make some.
To get their Extra Crispy Chicken so crispy KFC breads the chicken two times. This double breading gives the chicken its ultra craggy exterior and extra crunch, which is a different texture than the less crispy Original Recipe Chicken that’s breaded just once and pressure fried.
As with my KFC Original Recipe hack, we must first brine the chicken to give it flavor and moisture all the way through, like the real thing, then the chicken is double breaded and deep fried until golden brown. KFC uses small chickens which cook faster, but small chickens can be hard to find. If your chicken parts are on the large side, they may not cook all the way through in the 12 to 15 minutes of frying I’m specifying here. To be sure your chicken is cooked, start frying with the thickest pieces, like the breasts, then park them in a 300-degree oven while you finish with the smaller pieces. This will keep the chicken warm and crispy, and more importantly, ensure that they are cooked perfectly all the way through.
On my CMT show Top Secret Recipe I chatted with Winston Shelton, a long-time friend of KFC founder Harland Sanders. Winston saw the Colonel's handwritten secret recipe for the Original Recipe chicken, and he told me one of the secret ingredients is Tellicherry black pepper. It's a more expensive, better-tasting black pepper that comes from the Malabar coast in India, and you should use it here if you can find it. Winston pulled me aside and whispered this secret to me when he thought we were off-camera, but our microphones and very alert cameramen caught the whole thing, and we aired it.
I first published this hack in Even More Top Secret Recipes, but recently applied some newly acquired secrets and tips to make this much-improved version of one of the most familiar fried chicken recipes in the world.
This recipe was our #2 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).
The talented chefs at Benihana cook food on hibachi grills with flair and charisma, treating the preparation like a tiny stage show. They juggle salt and pepper shakers, trim food with lightning speed, and flip the shrimp and mushrooms perfectly onto serving plates or into their tall chef's hat.
One of the side dishes that everyone seems to love is the fried rice. At Benihana this dish is prepared by chefs with precooked rice on open hibachi grills, and is ordered a la cart to complement any Benihana entree, including Hibachi Steak and Chicken. I like when the rice is thrown onto the hot hibachi grill and seems to come alive as it sizzles and dances around like a bunch of little jumping beans. Okay, so I'm easily amused.
This Benihana Japanese fried rice recipe will go well with just about any Japanese entree and can be partially prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until the rest of the meal is close to done.
Crafting a clone of Olive Garden’s signature Lasagna Classico became the perfect opportunity to create a beautiful multi-layered lasagna hack recipe that uses up the whole box of lasagna noodles and fills the baking pan all the way to the top. This Top Secret Recipe makes a lasagna that tips the scale at nearly 10 pounds and will feed hungry mouths for days, with every delicious layer copied directly from the carefully dissected Olive Garden original.
I found a few credible bits of intel in a video of an Olive Garden chef demonstrating what he claims is the real formula on a midday news show, but the recipe was abbreviated for TV and the chef left out some crucial information. One ingredient he conspicuously left out of the recipe is the secret layer of Cheddar cheese located near the middle of the stack. I wasn’t expecting to find Cheddar in lasagna, but when I carefully separated the layers from several servings of the original dish, there was the golden melted cheesy goodness in every slice.
This clone recipe will make enough for 8 big portions, but if you make slightly smaller slices this is easily enough food to fill twelve lasagna-loving bellies. If you like lasagna, you're going to love this version.
Browse my other Olive Garden clone recipes here.
Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken and Biscuits has become the third-largest quick-service chicken chain in the world in the twenty-two years since its first store opened in New Orleans in 1972. (KFC has the number-one slot, followed by Church's Chicken). Since then, the chain has grown to 813 units, with many of them overseas in Germany, Japan, Jamaica, Honduras, Guam, and Korea.
Cayenne pepper and white pepper bring the heat to this crispy fried chicken hack.
Did you like this recipe? Get your hands on my secret recipe for Popeyes Chicken Sandwich and other Popeyes dishes here.
A popular staple of any Chinese chain is the fried rice so it better be good, and the version served at Panda Express most certainly is. Here's an easy hack when you need a stress-free, low-cost side for your entrées. But I do suggest that you cook the white rice several hours or even a day or two before you plan to make the finished dish. I found that the cooked rice called for in this recipe works best when it's cold.
As for a shortcut, bagged frozen peas and carrots will save you from the hassle of petite-dicing carrots since the carrots in those bags are the perfect size to produce an identical clone. And they're already cooked.
Now, how about some Honey Walnut Shrimp, or Beijing Beef to go with that rice? Find all my Panda Express copycat recipes here.
The problem with adding sauce to fried food is that the wet sauce makes the crunchy fried food not so crunchy. Panda Express manages to keep the crispy beef in Beijing Beef crispy even though it may be sitting for over 20 minutes in the sauce on its way to a hungry you. My early attempts at hacking my favorite dish at the massive Chinese food chain all resulted in gummy, soggy beef pieces that were more like flat dumplings than the delicious, crunchy strips of joy they were meant to be.
Then finally, on one batch, I decided to fry the coated beef for much longer than I intuitively felt it should be cooked, resulting in dark browning on the cornstarch coating and an even darker piece of meat beneath it. I anticipated a beef jerky experience, but when I took a bite, I found it to be delicious! It wasn’t tough and chewy as I expected it to be. And when this seemingly overcooked beef was stirred into the sauce, it stayed crispy until served, just like the real thing.
Now, with the soggy beef problem solved, we’ve finally got a good hack for this famous sweet-and-spicy dish.
Braised and shredded pork shoulder is a staple of Mexican cuisine that Chipotle prepares with a simple blend of flavors, and a surprising ingredient you may not have expected: juniper berries. Once you track those down (they’re easy to find online), the berries are combined with thyme and bay leaves in a braising liquid that will transform your own pork roast into an easily shreddable thing of beauty in under 3 hours. Then you can use your freshly cloned carnitas on tacos, in burritos, or in a bowl over rice and beans just like they do in the restaurant.
When picking your pork roast, try to find one without too much fat. If your roast has a thick cap of fat on it, trim off the excess. You want some fat in your braising liquid, but if the cap of fat is too thick, it may not fully render down and you’ll get chunks of fat in the shred.
It’s often assumed that the pork butt is from the rear end of the pig, even though cuts from the back region already have a name: ham. The pork butt, also known as a Boston butt, is cut from the other end, the upper shoulder of the pig. It’s called a “butt” because in pre-Revolutionary War New England the roasts were stored and transported in barrels called “butts”, and the confusing name stuck.
In early 1985, restaurateur Rich Komen felt there was a specialty niche in convenience-food service just waiting to be filled. His idea was to create an efficient outlet that could serve freshly made cinnamon rolls in shopping malls throughout the country. It took nine months for Komen and his staff to develop a cinnamon roll recipe he knew customers would consider the "freshest, gooiest, and most mouthwatering cinnamon roll ever tasted." The concept was tested for the first time in Seattle's Sea-Tac mall later that year, with workers mixing, proofing, rolling, and baking the rolls in full view of customers. Now, more than 626 outlets later, Cinnabon has become the fastest-growing cinnamon roll bakery in the world.
Menu Description: "Lightly-dusted, stir-fried in a sweet Szechwan sauce."
The delicious sweet-and-spicy secret sauce is what makes this dish one of P. F. Chang's top picks. Once the sauce is finished all you have to do is saute your chicken and combine. You'll want to cook up some white or brown rice, like at the restaurant. If you can't find straight chili sauce for this recipe, the more common chili sauce with garlic in it will work just as well.
Check out my other P.F. Chang's clone recipes here.
Menu Description: “Creamy marsala wine sauce with mushrooms over grilled chicken breasts, stuffed with Italian cheeses and sundried tomatoes. Served with garlic mashed potatoes.”
This recipe includes a marsala sauce that even marsala sauce haters will like. My wife is one of those haters, but when she tried this sauce, her eyes lit up and she begged for more. That’s great, now I won’t have to eat alone.
Not only is Olive Garden's delicious marsala sauce hacked here (and it’s easy to make), you’ll also get the copycat hack for the chain's awesome Italian cheese stuffing that goes between the two pan-cooked chicken fillets. Build it, sauce it, serve it. The presentation is awesome, and the flavor will soothe your soul.
Try this dish paired with my recent clone of Olive Garden’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes for the complete O.G. Stuffed Chicken Marsala experience.
Braised Beef Pasta Menu Description: “Slow-simmered meat sauce with tender braised beef and Italian sausage, tossed with ruffled pappardelle pasta and a touch of alfredo sauce—just like Nonna’s recipe.”
It’s a mistake to assume that a recipe posted to a restaurant chain’s website is the real recipe for the food served there. I’ve found this to be the case with many Olive Garden recipes, and this one is no exception. A widely circulated recipe that claims to duplicate the chain’s classic Bolognese actually originated on Olive Garden’s own website, and if you make that recipe you’ll be disappointed when the final product doesn’t even come close to the real deal. I won’t get into all the specifics of the things wrong with that recipe (too much wine, save some of that for drinking!), but at first glance it’s easy to see that a few important ingredients found in traditional Bolognese sauces are conspicuously missing, including milk, basil, lemon, and nutmeg.
I incorporated all those missing ingredients into this new hack recipe, tweaked a few other things, and then tested several methods of braising the beef so that it comes out perfectly tender: covered, uncovered, and a combo. The technique I settled on was cooking the sauce covered for 2 hours, then uncovered for 1 additional hour so that the sauce reduces and the beef transforms into a fork-flakeable flavor bomb. Yes, it comes from Olive Garden, but this Bolognese is better than any I’ve had at restaurants that charge twice as much, like Rao’s where the meat is ground, not braised, and they hit you up for $30.
As a side note, Olive Garden’s menu says the dish comes with ruffled pappardelle pasta, but it’s actually mafaldine, a narrower noodle with curly edges (shown in the top right corner of the photo). Pappardelle, which is the traditional pasta to serve with Bolognese, is a very wide noodle with straight edges, and it’s more familiar than mafaldine, so perhaps that’s why the menu fudges this fact. In the end, it doesn’t really matter which pasta you choose. Just know that a wide noodle works best. Even fettuccine is good here.
For the little bit of alfredo sauce spooned into the middle of the dish I went with a premade bottled sauce to save time. You can also make this from scratch if you like (I’ve got a great hack for Olive Garden’s Alfredo Sauce), but it’s such a small amount that premade sauce in either a chilled tub from the deli section or in a bottle off the shelf works great here.
This recipe was our #3 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1) KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken (#2), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).
8 Flavorful Origins (2019)
For foodies with little time and even shorter attention spans, Flavorful Origins is the perfect Netflix cooking show to watch. The series about various Chinese cuisine and customs comes in short doses of 10-12 minute episodes at a time.
With 40 episodes so far, the first volume of the show highlights various Chaoshan Cuisine, the second series focuses on Yunnan Cuisine, and the third and most recent chapter revolves around Gansu Cuisine. Everything from mutton, flaxseed, fish sauce, galangal, and beef noodles to Niang pi, lei cha, tofu cake, mussels, pickled vegetables, and more are highlighted.
Tournament of Champions: Was the bracket upset really unexpected?
Foodies love their Food Network culinary competitions. Tournament of Champions, hosted by Guy Fieri, has been one of the highly anticipated new Spring shows. Bringing together some of the biggest chefs to compete in a bracket style competition, the predictions for ran the gamut. While everyone knew that the dishes would impress, the final outcome was uncertain. But just like March Madness, a perfect bracket is almost unthinkable.
After the chefs were seeded into their bracket positions (some not thrilled with their rankings), only a few of the first round battles aired on the premiere episode. While it is a culinary competition, there was more back story and chef reactions than actual cooking. Unlike the original Iron Chef where foodies watched the meticulous preparation, the cooking was more of a summary.
The biggest challenge for the chefs wasn’t their opponent it was the unpredictable randomizer. After spinning the wheels, the chefs learned their protein, produce, equipment, style and time. Although all the options were never revealed, the combinations could be brutal.
In the first battle Antonia LoFaso (a number one seed) took on Marcel Vigneron. The battle of the former Top Chef contestants had more than bragging rights on the line. It was clear that Antonia did not want to lose to Marcel.
The chefs had to cook cod with avocado in a sweet preparation and use a microwave. Unless you want to cook a quick cake, most chefs would prefer to avoid the microwave. Like most Food Network competitions, it is about making smart choices.
Still, it was good that neither chef had a mistake. They each presented beautiful dishes that captured the challenge.
One of the keys to this competition is that the three judges rate the dishes blindly. With Simon Majumdar and Justin Warner offering insight on the dish’s ingredients, how it was made and answering any other questions, there seems to be no favoritism in the judging. Still, if the judges know who is competing, they might be able to guess a chef’s dish.
Judging this episode was Curtis Stone, Nancy Silverton and Marcus Samuelsson. Given that these chefs are all very different, it was nice to have a wide range to offer insight on the dishes.
In the Antonia versus Marcel challenge, the judges were impressed with both dishes. The cod was cooked well. The balance was sweetness was lovely. Even the uses of avocado was appreciated.
Still, only one chef could move into the next round. The judges choose Antonia. To say that she was relieved that she survived round one was an understatement.
In the second battle, Jet Tila took on Eric Greenspan. Both chefs have very, very different approaches. Jet focuses on Asian cuisine while Alan is more classic (or grilled cheese, which he will never lose that designation).
For their randomizer, they got steak sirloin, mushrooms, smoke, and juicer. Looking at this list, the smoke was the hardest part. Trying to infuse smoke flavor in just 35 minutes was almost impossible.
The two dishes were quite different. As expected, Jet went with an Asian inspired dish. While the judges were torn with his beef, the “smoked” rice powder was a highlight. Although toasted rice in a cast iron pan might not be “smoked,” it did have a little bit of that “burning” flavor.
Eric went in an unlikely direction, meatballs. While this idea helped to keep the beef tender, the meatball had the unexpected ingredient of sweetbreads. Even the judges had never thought to put ground sweetbreads in a meatball.
Giving the meatball a luscious texture and a slightly different flavor, Eric was applauded for the creativity. But, his smoke flavor did not come through in the dish.
In the end, Jet edged Eric in the competition. He moves on to the next round of Tournament of Champions.
For the final battle of the night, it was a big one. All episode long, everyone was talking about Alex Guarnaschelli having a target on her back. The Iron Chef was the one to beat and she would be taking on a rookie. Given the build it, anyone could have guess that an upset was in the making.
While some people might not instantly recognize Darnell, he has done well in Food Network competitions. Alex even praised him as he won Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge. He wasn’t going down with out a fight.
For their randomizer, the ingredients were pork tenderloin, peas, waffle iron and glazed. To say that Alex was bitter about the waffle iron was an understatement. It definitely through her off her game.
Unlike other Iron Chef competitions, Alex seemed off from the beginning. It looked like she was having a hard time trying to find the right balance in her dish. If the dish didn’t have to deal with the waffle iron, she could have knocked it out of the park.
Putting a quesadilla with her French-influenced pork was strange. It was a food mash-up that no one needs and it cost her.
Truthfully, lots of food can be cooked on a waffle iron. There are whole sites devoted to “waffle it.” Darnell used cooked mushrooms in his waffle iron. There are many options that were totally overlooked.
While Alex’s flavors were good, the small mistakes were not overlooked by the judges. Darnell wasn’t perfect but he was impressive.
In the end, Darnell edged out the Iron Chef and took down the number one seed from the East. While it would have been nice to see Alex win, this outcome will have people watching next week. Just like March Madness, everyone likes that big upset. It makes the event more exciting.
Next week’s Tournament of Champions episode will feature three more battles. Whether or not there is another upset in the making remains to be seen.
What did you think of Tournament of Champions? Do you think that Food Network has a winner with this new culinary competition?
Yelp's list of top 10 foodie cities looks like this:
- San Francisco, California
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Plano, Texas
- San Diego, California
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Richmond, Virginia
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Austin, Texas
In the writeup about Plano, Yelp notes "this North Texas city is way more than just barbecue." And that's true. Outside of Lockhart Smokehouse, Plano is not widely known for its barbecue — not like other parts of Texas are. Yelp lists a few restaurants in Plano, like Lima Taverna (which we reviewed in 2017) and First Watch. Oddly, First Watch is a chain, and Plano is but one of nearly 10 North Texas cities where First Watch can be found.
It's great to see Union Bear Brewing Co. on Yelp's list. But we're left wanting to see these popular shops: Mudleaf Coffee, Yao Fuzi Cuisine, Bavarian Grill, Whiskey Cake and so many more.
What others would you have added, to help show that Plano is a great foodie city?
6. Michel Roux Jr. – Top 10 chefs in Great British
Michel Roux, who was conceived on 23 May 1960, is an alum of Le Gavroche. He is considered as at sixth position among top 10 chefs in England. He got his education in his kitchens and is taught to cook with his own environment and style. He is among the most popular French-English chefs.
Michel has a deep appreciation for the establishments of French cooking. The name Roux is synonymous in Britain with the French haute food. Roux has composed a few books named Le Gavroche Cookbook The Marathon Chef and Matching Food and Wine, which was the best book on forming wine for the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
The 24 Best Cooking Shows of All Time, Ranked
Fast food taste tests, waitresses getting massive tips, the best restaurants across America — these are just a few of the topics Yahoo Food readers loved the most. In a tribute to you, our reader, we are revisiting some of our most popular stories of 2015.
Cooking shows have covered a lot of ground over the years. Want to learn how to turn your garden pots into tandoori ovens? There’s a show for that. Want to watch sweaty combatants duke it out in a culinary stadium? There are… a lot of shows for that, actually. But for every program that finds success in teaching ordinary folks how to chop onions like a pro (DON’T YOU DARE CRY ON ME!), there are more than a few that don’t quite make the cut.
So, to separate the wheat from the chaff, we ranked the best cooking shows of all time. We hope you like Gordon Ramsay, because that guy’s everywhere.
24. MasterChef Junior
2013 - Present
Can kids today cook just as well as — if not BETTER THAN — grown-ups? That’s the question this spinoff culinary competition posits to its viewers, who are invariably reminded that yes, yes they can. And there’s only slightly more crying than in the adult version of the show.
2009 - Present
Cake Boss didn’t originate the idea of the “pastry-making rock star” (that would be another entry on this list), but it is a frequently entertaining mashup of big attitudes, personal drama, inventive cakes, and unabashed Hoboken promotion.
2014 - Present
Food Network’s foray into the cooking talk-show format features a multi-headed Hydra of their most popular hosts (Zakarian, Anderson, Mauro, Valladolid, and Lee) that teach you how to entertain in the intimacy of… a studio kitchen! The show sometimes feels a bit rushed, but it’s nice to see the hosts getting along, even if their chemistry was created in a lab by some executive scientists.
21. Throwdown! with Bobby Flay
2006 - 2011
Bobby Flay can cook. That much should come as a surprise to no one. So, too, though, can the unsuspecting down-home chefs that he challenged in this reality show. And while it was occasionally fun to see him struggle to come up with a more New York-influenced recipe for jambalaya, mostly you just wanted to know exactly how the defending cook worked their time-tested magic.
20. Cutthroat Kitchen
2013 - Present
While watching Cutthroat Kitchen, you’ll wonder how the show managed to think up the strange and tortuous sabotages it inflicts on its contestants. Then you’ll wonder how the show managed to find contestants who were willing to shell out $10,000 to buy said sabotages. Then you’ll wonder why Alton Brown looks so gleefully mischievous. And then you’ll settle in to watch another episode.
19. Barefoot Contessa
2002 - Present
With the goal of taking fancy cuisine and adapting it for the masses, Ina Garten has had quite a few successes. Sure, she uses a metric ton of butter and always has fresh floral arrangements adorning her home/set in the Hamptons. But after watching, don’t you kinda want them too?
1997 - 2007
When you think of bombastic personalities in televisual cooking… Guy Fieri is probably the first that comes to mind. But without the influence of the original larger-than-life spice-flinger Emeril Lagasse, many chefs of today wouldn’t even have gotten their start. Watch the guy effortlessly perform culinary stunts in front of an enormous, riveted live audience and you’ll gain a larger-than-life amount of respect for him. BAM! That’s the sound of respect. And spices.
17. Hell’s Kitchen
2005 - Present
It’s true that Gordon Ramsay is a vulgar guy. The amount of casually tossed-around bleeps in this nightmarish cooking competition could just as easily have been allotted to an entire season of South Park. But damn, if it isn’t good television, and it probably turned an entire generation of would-be home cooks off of risotto.
16. Top Chef Masters
2009 - Present
The aspect of the original Top Chef that really sets it apart is the aspirations of its contestants — many of them come from smaller cities and want to make it big on a national scale. The entrants in Top Chef Masters are already established professional chefs, which makes this show more of a sandbox for their considerable talents. Not that we’re complaining.
15. Ace of Cakes
2006 - 2011
Master cake-maker Duff Goldman’s goofy personality and wealth of interesting friends made this one of the best shows out there strictly about baking. The realities of running a small cake shop were presented in an informative (if frenetic) manner, and Duff’s creative approach to problem-solving kept it eminently watchable week after week. Now if only the things he made weren’t 95% fondant…
2010 - Present
After seeing Gordon Ramsay in Hell’s Kitchen, viewers needed to see where he went next. This cooking competition, judged by our favorite angry Brit along with Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich in its earliest iterations, successfully combined all the variables of a typical cooking show with intense individual analysis… and — again — a whole lot of crying.
13. Iron Chef America
2005 - Present
A huge, dark room. Smoke machines. Two dueling chefs attempting to outdo each other while Alton Brown cries out commentary. No, it’s not your rich friend Josh’s bar mitzvah — it’s Iron Chef America. While campier aspects of the original Japanese show took on a more serious tone in Food Network’s version, the number of hilarious sound bites still easily tops any other show on this list.
12. Guy’s Big Bite
2006 - Present
“Who is Guy Fieri?” is a question you rarely hear anymore, mostly because his frosted tips are so bright that they can be seen from a couple states over, but also because his meteoric rise started when Food Network picked him up as a cooking personality with Guy’s Big Bite, his inaugural instructional cooking show. Here, we learned about his affinity for big flavors, and how we could borrow them for our own dishes. Say what you will about the guy, but he opened up home cooking to a whole new audience of dudes.
11. Everyday Italian
2003 - 2008
Daytime Emmy Award-winning host Giada de Laurentiis managed to effortlessly fuse Italian and American cuisines in this bright, warm, realistic, and elegantly presented instructional cooking show. Also introduced cooking to a whole new audience of dudes, albeit for a different reason.
10. The Naked Chef
1999 - 2001
Also known as “that show your Mom tuned into because she thought Jamie Oliver was cute and wanted to see if the title was for real,” The Naked Chef introduced the world to everyone’s favorite Cockney rising star for the first time. The show was so-named because Oliver stripped his ingredients down to their barest forms. Not himself. Sorry Mom.
9. Two Fat Ladies
1996 - 1999
Unabashedly enthusiastic and more than a little unorthodox, Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson (aka “Two Fat Ladies”) created lavish meals from scratch in every episode of their eponymous show, cooking with a ton of lard, and driving around from location to location in an old motorcycle and sidecar. What this show lacked in polish, it made up for in Two Fat Ladies cooking with lard and driving around in an old motorcycle and sidecar.
2007 - Present
Every episode of Chopped is an all-out brawl. It takes the competitive aspects of Top Chef and condenses them into a show that pulls viewers into a quick, dirty, and ultimately supremely enjoyable viewing experience. The prize might only be $10,000, but because of that, there’s no pretense — all the chefs are there purely for the joy of putting their skills up against one another.
7. America’s Test Kitchen
2000 - Present
Public television’s America’s Test Kitchen might not be as well known to mainstream viewers as the rest of the examples on this list, but its simple format and experimental approach to problem-solving while cooking gets more into the technical side than most other shows would dare. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise to pretty much anyone who’s ever watched public television.
2006 - Present
Top Chef revolutionized food on TV when it originally aired, and while subsequent seasons have seen diminishing returns, it will always be the first cooking show that drew us in with personal stories, inventive challenges, and unfamiliar locales, like Survivor for the set who wanted to see people eat something other than bugs.
5. East Meets West with Ming Tsai
1998 - 2003
Ming Tsai’s easy-going approach to food — and early entrance onto the scene in 1998 — bridged two formerly disparate worlds (cooking and being cool… what did you think we meant?), and introduced a new generation of aspiring food fans to Asian-influenced ingredients.
1996 - 2010
If the who’s-who of popular chefs that stopped by Mario’s show to sample his extraordinarily well-informed Italian cuisine isn’t an indication of his skill (and this show’s importance), then I don’t know what is. As effective a communicator as he is a chef, Mario brilliantly segues from history to influences to personal anecdotes to actual instruction and manages to teach more than almost any other chef can in a single episode — you get the feeling that secrets of the cooking world are being imparted. And more often than not, they actually are.
1993 - 1999
For American viewers, the hilariously dubbed Iron Chef was a dense, intriguing labyrinth of fast-talking commentators, synthetic smoke, dramatic backstory, and almost perplexing culinary skill. We saw the chef-challengers as dueling titans, even though we didn’t really know what was going on half the time, or whether to believe the crazy-sounding history between them. This is the show against which all cooking competitions are judged (probably by an old fortune teller, which is actually who they brought in half the time anyway).
1999 - 2011
Alton Brown doesn’t have a background in cooking. But while watching his show, you might think that he’s got some experience in… MAD SCIENCE. Strangely not set in a laboratory overlooking a town that misunderstands his genius, Good Eats combined practical technology with a desire for the best food possible. You could count on every episode to include at least a few geeky pop culture references, random bits of history, or bit-part actors pretending to be a butcher, baker, or… an ancient Greek philosopher. In a grocery store. Giving a lecture about grapes.
1. The French Chef
1963 - 1973
There is no single figure more responsible for making Americans feel like they can actually cook than Julia Child (she was also responsible for keeping them safe —during her tenure AS A SPY). Her first-ever show, The French Chef, was the program responsible for introducing French cuisine to the home-cooking populace, who had previously associated it solely with escargot and silly hats.
There is no other show that can claim to have had as much of an influence as this one, as it took an activity that most Americans had long ago abandoned for being “too difficult” — COOKING GOOD FOOD — and made it into something that was actually fun.