Food and wine festivals are always worth writing about – who wouldn’t want to go to one? If you are in the Malibu area, or you plan on going there in the next several weeks, then you ought to know that the 4th Annual Malibu Calabasas Food and Wine Festival is going to be held on the 19th of June.

It has been described as the celebration of food, wine, and all things Southern Californian! If that isn’t enticing, then I don’t know what is. The location of the festival itself is something worth visiting – the very beautiful Calabasas. Of course, there are activities that will entice anyone who is even slightly into food.

Live cooking demos by celebrity chefs are the highlights of the festival. This year, some really popular names are going to grace the festival: Joachim Splichal, TV Chef Tommy Tang and world champion Chef Frania Mendivil.

Aside from the celebrity chefs, other entities will be participating in the food and wine festival. How does more than a hundred wineries and breweries coming together sound? Various food and wine vendors will also showcase their wares on the said date.

So, from 2 in the afternoon to 7 in the evening on June 19, make sure to drop by Calabasas Inn 23500 Park Sorrento Calabasas, CA 91302 for a one of a kind foodie experience. Visit the official web site of the 4th Annual Malibu Calabasas Food and Wine Festival for ticketing information.

We all know that Jamie Oliver loves to take on public issues and meet them head on. But, did you know that Rachel Ray is also passionate about improving the quality of the food served in schools?

This self-proclaimed big mouthed chef says that she is using it to make her case heard in Congress. She went on a one-day tour to Washington as part of her efforts. On that day, she visited an elementary school and talked to the children about choosing healthy food. She also met with some members of the Congress to lobby her cause. Of course, a food-related visit to Washington is not complete without a visit to the First Lady’s kitchen garden.

So what exactly is Rachel Ray pushing? It is a piece of legislation that will create new standards for school food. The body behind this is the Agriculture Department. And, when we say school food, we mean ALL food that is served in school premises. Aside from cafeteria food, vending machines are also covered. The ultimate goal is to provide healthy choices to the students.

The main problem the bill is facing is the lack of funding. What is proposed is merely half of what the President recommended. Rachel Ray and other lobbyists and supporters are asking for more money to be allocated to the nutrition program.

More than this cause, however, Rachel Ray has also started a charity dubbed Yum-o! The purpose of the charity is to inform children on how to eat in a healthy manner. She’s got it right, I think – you gotta start ‘em young!

In some parts of the world, Fridays are considered to be a “meatless” day. That is, some people do not eat pork, beef, or any other animal flesh (except for fish and other seafood). I think this is because Friday is traditionally believed to be the day that Jesus Christ died. I could be wrong about the reason, but in any case, I am sure about this: Iron Chef Mario Batali has joined a cause. The Meatless Monday cause.

What’s it about? The initiative is being carried out by The Monday Campaigns, together with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The main goal is to cut back on the consumption of meat by 15% by not consuming meat on Mondays.

Now why would they want to do that? The answer is simple: eating less meat can be good for your health. Eating less meat also contributes to the efforts to save the planet.

The idea is noble, and the implementation quite simple – theoretically. For meat lovers, it might not be as easy.

Anyhow, famed celebrity chef Mario Batali, who is known for his love of meat, has decided to join the cause. It might seem ironic at first, since he has this awesome way with all sorts of meat. However, the chef himself justifies his commitment to Meatless Mondays:

“The fact is, most people in the U.S. eat way more meat than is good for them or the planet, Asking everyone to go vegetarian or vegan isn’t a realistic or attainable goal. But we can focus on a more plant-based diet. That’s why I’m such a big believer in the Meatless Monday movement!”

So how’s the chef going to go about it? All of his restaurants – all 14 of them – will be serving at least two vegetarian options every Monday. Pretty cool, although it would have been more radical if he had decided not to serve meat at all on Mondays, right?

For quite some time, Jamie Oliver’s Italian in Cardiff has been enjoying “exclusive rights” to the area. With the opening of a rival Italian restaurant, however, the celebrity chef’s restaurant just might have to prove itself worthy.

Another celebrity chef, Antonio Carluccio has just opened another Italian restaurant in the vicinity, in fact very close to Jamie Oliver’s own. He is starting out with quite a competitive spirit, mind you. During the launch of his Italian diner at St. David’s Centre, Carluccio sent out a message to his rival saying that Oliver’s restaurant “isn’t real Italian.” Strong words, aren’t they?

And, if the feedback from the customers is any indication, Carluccio just might give Oliver a run for his money. According to Simon Kossoff, Carluccio’s partner and the managing director of the restaurant, their customers have indeed been saying that they are the “real deal.” And all this within a week of the opening!

Obviously, I have not had the honor of dining at Carluccio’s new restaurant, but I wouldn’t mind giving it a try. The prices do not seem too bad as well, with an average meal (including wine) costing about ₤17. This is another strong point in favor of Carluccio – they say that people are quite happy with the price as well as the quality of the food. With the trend in Britain shifting from a fascination with French food to Italian food, no one will be surprised to see this new place flourish. I wonder what Jamie Oliver has to say about it all?

So where has he been all this time? Haven’t we seen him in the kitchen in the past several years? I know I have been watching him on TV cooking this whole time!

The matter of going back to the kitchen for Chef Mario Batali is as real as can be, though. He means actually cooking – for real – and not for a TV audience. As you may have heard from other chefs, TV cooking is not the same as actually making your own food in the kitchens of your restaurants. We’ve already heard so many critics lambasting celebrity chefs. They’re too busy cooking on air. They’re too busy running their restaurant empires. They’re not in touch with the real chef in them.

Well, Batali is not content to do that anymore. He wants to go back to his roots and is undertaking a gigantic project. Some time this year, he is set to launch six new restaurants for Eataly. Nice name, huh? But not as nice as what Batali is supposed to be cooking up. Time reports:

There will be a meat restaurant, a fish one, a pasta and pizza operation, a vegetable restaurant, a panino bar and a brewery-gastropub on the roof deck. It’s a giant undertaking, but Batali is a force of nature. He is creating all of the restaurants himself, after having spent years away from cooking. Whether he can pull it off remains to be seen. But he’s psyched to be even trying.

Well I am psyched for him, my favorite American Iron Chef!

Michelin stars are not easy to come by, and we all look at restaurants in a different light once they get these stars. IF they have 3 Michelin stars, that ups the game to a whole new level, doesn’t it? There isn’t any restaurateur in the entire world that would not want to earn those three stars, but chef Ferran Adria is one of the fortunate ones (and deserving as well) to have earned them.

His restaurant El Bulli has been hailed by many – professional and amateur foodies alike – to be the best in the world. I haven’t had the honor of dining there myself, but I would give an arm and a leg to do so. Unfortunately, the rumor is that the chef is closing El Bulli for good. Last month, he announced that he would be closing the restaurant for two years – 2012 and 2013. He did so at Madrid Fusion, a conference for Spanish chefs. Why he would want to do that, who knows.

More recently, chef Adria announced that the closure of El Bulli is going to be for good. He said that instead of running the restaurant, he would be running a culinary school – an advanced one at that. Apparently, he and his partner have been losing money (large amounts of it) steadily on the restaurant. Again, how this could have happened, I haven’t the slightest idea!

In any case, this closure is going to be a sad one for the hordes of foodies around the world – especially for those like me who have never had the chance to sample their fare.

Have you been missing Emeril? Honestly, I haven’t. Still, I find him interesting to watch every now and then. I cannot forget that home style beer clambake that he did one time (many years ago). Anyway, those of you who have been wanting to see more of the “bam!” will be thrilled to know that Emeril has partnered up with ION TV for a whole new TV show.

Dubbed “The Emeril Lagasse Show,” it will be aired on a weekly basis. The hour-long TV show will premiere on the 28th of March at 8pm and will be aired every Sunday. Here’s more information from the Press Release:

“The Emeril Lagasse Show” will feature one of America’s most popular chefs as he has never been seen before. Each week, Emeril will welcome celebrity guests, musicians and entertainers to break news and break bread as Emeril shares his world, his friends and his passions with the studio audience and viewers at home. A house band will be on set, playing live music and interacting with Emeril, guests and audience. The show also will include entertaining and surprising field pieces that will be shot in and around New York City where the show will be taped. TV veteran Karen Katzand After Five Productions, which executive produced Lagasse’s long-running Food Network series, “Emeril Live,” will be executive producer of “The Emeril Lagasse Show”.

Reading that, it sounds quite familiar, doesn’t it? Maybe it is NOT a groundbreaking show, but at least Emeril fans will get to see their favorite chef on TV regularly again.

Giada De Laurentiis is certainly one of the hottest celebrity chefs around. While I may not agree with the physical perception of many, there is no denying that she is one of the most popular chefs today. Retail giant Target seems to recognize that as well as they have partnered up with her to sell a line of cookware and food products.

Dubbed Giada De Laurentiis for Target, the cookware and food products selection is touted to be exclusive and yet affordable. According to Kathy Tesija, executive vice president of Target’s merchandising, their customers “want kitchen gear that makes their daily cooking easier and more enjoyable, and Giada’s collection delivers.” She also says that they “combined design expertise with Giada’s culinary background to create a product collection that pairs utility with great design and affordability.”

What exactly are they selling? Pots and pans, ceramic containers for baking, pasta sauces, flavored coffee, and other kitchen tools. Also available are different varieties of pasta and dressings. One set that I find particularly interesting is the Tri Ply Clad cookset. The inclusions in the set:

• 2 saute pans, one is 8 inches and the other is 9.5 inches; both are open
• 3 sauce pans: 1 quart, 2 quarts, and 3 quarts; all have lids
• 1 Dutch oven with lid: 5 quarts

For $199.99, I think that it’s a pretty good deal.

The idea behind the line is to impart Giada’s cooking expertise and family traditions while at the same time to provide customers with Target quality.

Would you buy these products?

gordon_ramsaySomething new is coming to American television and it will get the average joe cooking and competing with others of his own caliber! Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is reportedly bringing MasterChef to the US and he is excited about it. MasterChef, unlike other cooking shows, features amateurs. That is, the contestants will have no cooking background and will only bring their innate talent with them to the kitchen.

While the basic idea behind the show will be the same as the original MasterChef in the UK, Ramsay says he will do some things differently, and I am not in the least bit surprised. After all, Chef Ramsay has not risen to popularity because of conformity, has he?

He says that he will not stand for chefs (pros or amateurs) stuffing their faces when tasting their concoctions. Whether it is on or off camera, Ramsay says he will be tasting the food in little bits. He also admitted to having problems with vegetarian dishes and claims that he needs MEAT. That’s the way to go, chef!

So when will we be seeing MasterChef on American TV? I haven’t gotten the exact details but it should be anytime this year – preferably sooner than later. As we all know, however, Chef Ramsay is quite the busy bee. He has several shows in the US already (Cookalong Live, Hell’s Kitchen, and Kitchen Nightmares USA among others), not to mention his UK shows. Then there are his restaurants which are scattered all over.

We just have to wait and see, I guess.

JamieOliverPA_450x300Jamie Oliver has always been known for taking up causes close to his heart. As we start a new year, he is making the headlines yet again. The cause? Childhood obesity.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but children these days are leaning towards the big size. It could be because of the amount of food they’re consuming. It could also be due to the quality of the food. Then again, there could be other factors such as the level of physical activity that children engage in nowadays. I am quite sure, however, that all these play a role in the tendency to be unhealthy.

Some non-profit groups in the United Kingdom have banded together, and Jamie Oliver is taking part in their activities as well. He actually recently won $100,000 from TED due to his efforts. The money is intended to fund the celebrity chef’s campaign to improve school lunches in the United Kingdom in terms of their nutritional value. Dubbed “Feed Me Better,” this campaign has been going on for quite some time and has gained a lot of interest.

I wonder if other celebrity chefs will be interested in undertaking similar projects? Take a look around you, in the United States – children are even in more need of help in terms of eating healthily and avoiding all the complications that childhood obesity can bring about. Maybe the change does not need to stem from someone like Jamie Oliver. Maybe you and I can do something about it, even in our own little ways.