about_1There is no dearth of cooking shows these days. From the United States to the United Kingdom to Asia – shows featuring one celebrity chef (or a group of them) are everywhere. So why should we be excited about Top Chef Masters?

If you have not already heard, Top Chef is one of the most popular shows, but the previous season is over. I am pretty sure that a lot of you are having Top Chef withdrawal right now, so this pece of news about Top Chef Masters should whet your appetites somehow.

So back to my question, why should we be excited? Here are a few reasons. One, there will be 24 chefs in the show, all of them pitted against each other. Not one, not two, not even 12, but a whopping 24!

Two, the successful formula that has been followed in Top Chef will be followed in Top Chef Masters. This is certainly something that a lot of people will appreciate (Top Chef withdrawal symptoms remember?).

Three, the line up is more than interesting – both for the judges and the contestants. For the judges, how do Tom, Padma, and Gail sound? Previous winners are always interesting for me. We also have some surprise judges thrown in – writers and produces of Lost, for example. As for the contestants, they are only some of the most well known personalities in the restaurant scene.

For more details, visit the Top Chef Masters web site.

learn-how-to-prevent-039-heartburn-039-caused-by-fatty-food-feasts-2I am in an argumentative mood. I am not sure why but perhaps reading all these things targeting celebrity chefs is contributing to it. In my previous post, Jamie Oliver was being attacked by pregnant women in metal cages. Now I read about a Fat Panel saying that celebrity chefs offer recipes that have too much fat in them.

The Straits Times had a write up on this a few days ago:

A REPORT from United Kingdom group, the Fat Panel, has found that the single servings of recipes in celebrity chef cook books contain too much fat.

Some recipes from celebrity chefs like Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsey’s were found to have more than the entire daily recommended fat intake of 30g for men and 20g for women said a report on Friday.
‘Celebrity chefs are incredibly influential when it comes to what we eat,’ dietician Sian Porter said. ‘While these delicious meals are fine as occasional treats, people do not realise the health implications.’

Mind you, I am not a big fan of either Nigella or Gordon Ramsey but hey, aren’t we thinking adults here? If you see a recipe and you decide to make it, wouldn’t you figure out if there is too much fat in it? And wouldn’t it be up to you to decide whether or not to make it anyway?

Come on, people of the Fat Panel. Don’t take away our treats. Let us decide if we want these recipes or not.

petaJamie Oliver seems to be one of the favorite celebrity chefs of various activist groups. This time, he is being targeted by PETA, the well known animal rights activist group. In a demonstration held in front of Jamie’s Italian restaurant in Brighton, members of PETA held placards stating ‘Be Pukka to Pigs: Go Vegetarian.

The demonstrators didn’t stop at written protestations. One demonstrator, Lynzi Waddington, took it upon herself to imitate a pregnant sow (and she is heavily pregnant by the way), knelt down on the ground inside a metal cage. Apparently, this is one practice that is common in the hog raising industry. Her comment? “Pigs are very sensitive animals, they do feel pain, and they deserve to be treated right.”

What does the celebrity chef have to say about all this? His spokesman said that “The meat Jamie is serving up is very high quality. They should go make a protest somewhere that imports its meat.”

While that does not directly answer the demonstrator’s remarks on “humane” treatment of pigs, it does make sense to me. I might become the target of animal rights activists because of this post but seriously, there is a place for everyone, everything. It’s called the food chain. It is part of life.

While I do not see Jamie Oliver as the perfect person (well he is hunky, I have to say that!), I do not see him forcing vegetarians to eat meat either. So why not leave meat-eaters alone?

marc250209200You don’t know who Marc Veyrat is? He is a French celebrity chef – and yeah, the French know all about good food! – who is known for his forays into the countryside to gather wild herbs to incorporate into his excellent dishes. Late last month, news reports spread like wildfire that the celebrity chef is “quitting the kitchen.”

His restaurant, La Maison de Marc Veyrat (more popularly known as L’Auberge de l’Eridan) is closing down, much to the dismay of many. Unlike other chefs, who are closing down their shops because of the credit crunch, Veyrat cites health reasons for this closure. He is quoted as saying “I am stopping work in Annecy because physically, I have to, following a serious ski accident three years ago.”

The restaurant is located near Annecy and has earned 3 stars in the Michelin Guide. It was opened by Veyrat in 1992 and is best known for its traditional dishes infused with lots of wild herbs. Veyrat also introduced the concept of “molecular gastronomy.” This concept is basically the use of chemistry in coming up with unique recipes. That is, chemistry inspired the chef to put his own twist to various kinds of dishes, making them one of a kind.

Sad to say, that era seems to be coming to an end. Veyrat says that perhaps, the restaurant will make a comeback in the future but if it does, it will certainly be transformed. Still, the good news is that he says he might come back if he becomes fit again.

Mixing Eggs

For those of you in Jacksonville, Florida, tomorrow is a good day! March 5, 2009, Thursday, is the day of the 23rd Annual Celebrity Chefs Tasting Luncheon And Silent Auction. This charity event will be held from 11 in the morning till 1 in the afternoon at the Prime Osborn Convention Center.

I got wind of this event from the blog Florida Foodies – lots of stuff to be found here, by the way! – and after reading about the luncheon, I couldn’t help but wish that I were nearer to Florida! More than the actual foodie experience itself, you can get the satisfaction of knowing that your money is going to a good cause. The luncheon is actually the annual fundraiser of the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary and a large percentage of the earnings from the event will go to worthy causes such as scholarships, homework assistance, and the Child Development Center and Towers Memorial Center. Another beneficiary of this event is the Senior Center and the Adult Rehabilitation Center.

Locals will be delighted to know that the celebrities on the guest roll are as follows:

• Daryl Smith, linebacker, Jacksonville Jaguars.
• Mike Schneider, Owner, Loop Restaurants and Bistro Aix
• Chef Jessica Bright, Chef, TV/Radio Personality & Florida Foodies Contributor
• Jennifer Bauer; reporter for Channel 4
• Victor Blackwell and Jeannie Blaylock, anchors for Channels 12 and 25
• Mark Spain and Dawn Lopez, anchors for Channel 47
• Angela Corey, State Attorney, Florida’s 4th Judicial Circuit
• Bill Hughes, General Manager – TPC Sawgrass
• Randy Goodwin , President/CEO PRI Productions
• Sally Evans, Rita Joost and Darleen Unger, Women’s Auxiliary members
• Karen Wolfson, Director, Wolfson Children’s Hospital
• Linda Sherrer, President/CEO Prudential Network Realty

For tickets and inquiries, call 904-301-4841. Tickets only cost $25!

Jamie Oliver Opens New Dinner Show

Now that sounds rather fun, doesn’t it? Food fight? Heck, count me in! So what is this all about? TV channel 4 in the UK has gotten together 4 of the most popular celebrity chefs in the country. Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – these are the 4 heavyweights that will battle it out over the 2 weeks that the show will be aired.

So what will the platform be? Would we be seeing something similar to Iron Chef? As much as I love that show, I find the idea of this food fight quite interesting as well. The platform is such that each of the celebrity chefs would have his own program and his own challenge. Let’s meet the challengers.

Heston “The Geek” Blumenthal
His challenge? To turn Little Chef restaurants into something of a success. Currently, these restaurants do not have the best reputation. The Geek has £350,000 and 6 months to do his job.

Gordon “Raging Bull” Ramsay
His challenge is to “force” the locals to eat out at restaurants. It could be a tough one since people are cutting back on extra expenses.

Jamie “The Kid” Oliver
The pretty boy chef is going on a campaign to rescue British pork. He needs to encourage the people to buy locally grown pork products as opposed to cheaper imported ones.

Hugh “The Squire” Fearnley-Whittingstall
If Jamie is to take on the case of pork, The Squire is going to take up for chicken.

Now the variety in the challenges is sure to present interesting episodes, isn’t it?

Chef Bobby Flay Attends Knicks Reading Zone

It was only recently that we heard about celebrity chef Tom Colicchio being accused of stiffing his employees. Now, it seems that it is another celebrity chef’s turn. This time, it is Bobby Flay who is in the sights of critics and people who want to bring him down.

The Associated Press has this report:

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court by current and former employees, names as a defendant Bold Food LLC. The company owns or operates Bar Americain and Mesa Grill NYC in Manhattan. Other restaurants are in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

The lawsuit claims Flay’s company violated the wage and hour laws by engaging in improper tip-pooling practices. It also says the company failed to pay proper overtime pay and failed to reimburse employees for some expenses.

A spokesman for Flay and the restaurants did not immediately return a telephone message for comment on Friday.

It’s one of a string of similar lawsuits filed on behalf of employees of New York restaurants.

There is no definitive information as to whether or not there is substantial proof that Chef Bobby Flay is indeed guilty of the charges. I don’t know which other restaurants in New York are facing the same charges but it seems that this is an organized thing, targeting high profile restaurateurs. In any case, if there is one result of all this publicity, it is that the chefs being targeted are getting free press coverage. Of course, if they are convicted, it is another story.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Kick-Off Celebration

Who is your favorite Iron Chef? If it’s Bobby Flay that you’re naming, then you will be happy to know that you can get more of him, this time on the radio. It seems that the demand for this celebrity chef is going nowhere but up. In spite of his numerous TV appearances, web site citations, and magazine features, his fans just seem to need more – and more – of him. Thus his most recent gig – a radio talk show.

Chron.com reports:

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay is launching a talk radio show on which he will offer advice to men on everything from dating, dining, dressing and how to nail a tough job interview.

The star of numerous Food Network programs will host Bobby Flay Radio weekly on SIRIUS XM Radio starting Thursday. Flay is signed on for a five-week run, but says he is open to more if the two-hour show goes well.

While the call-in show will touch on everything from sports to current events, Flay says food still will be the focus.

“Food transcends so much now,” Flay said in a telephone interview. “It’s become so much part of lifestyle. How you eat, plate it, how you dress and how you live all have a lot to do with one another.”

Flay’s wife, actress Stephanie March, will join him on the show occasionally.

Interesting that he will be dishing out more than his daily dose of recipes, huh? Then again, he seems to have done extremely well in his life, he probably has a lot of advice to offer his listeners. What do you think about that, 2 hours of radio with Bobby Flay?

Sirius XM Radio Welcomes Jamie Oliver To

And it is not just him, apparently! It seems that the British public is becoming increasingly bothered by how much the F-word is being used on the telly. Oh, and I am not talking about “F” as in “fowl” but “F” as in the other foul word. The National has a write up of this today:

A backlash has emerged in Britain against the amount of swearing now common on television and radio.

For years, there has been a progressive increase in the use of bad language in popular programmes, particularly among comedians, talk show hosts and, for no apparent reason, celebrity chefs.

There were a lot of personalities mentioned in the article, including the recently infamous duo of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross. There were no other celebrity chefs mentioned except for Jamie Oliver, who was said to have used the F-word 23 times in a 50-minute episode.

To be honest, I never really noticed this! Perhaps the episodes that I have seen were “clean?” Or maybe they were edited. Another possibility – I have become so immune to hearing that word that I do not even take note when it is mentioned on TV.

It does not matter – the fact is that for once, I agree with the critics. There is no reason for celebrity chefs to be using the F-word in their cooking shows. Although I have to admit that I have probably used it on several occasions while working in the kitchen. Poor Jamie Oliver, always in the middle of these controversies…

Foie Gras Ban To Take Effect In Chicago

Michael Caines, a Michelin-star awardee, has been given a petition urging him to take off one of the best dishes on his menu. Foie gras, translated literally into fat liver, is a French delicacy that is well loved by many foodies around the world. The process of making foie gras is what the activists are against.

According to Sharon Howe of the organisation Exeter Friends for Animals, “It’s quite ironic. Michael Caines promotes local produce, which we think is a very praiseworthy. But at the same time he is importing a product, which, were it produced in this country, would be banned because it contravenes animal welfare legislation. It’s a very cruel product.

Foie gras is made by overfeeding geese and duck, in order to achieve that unique texture. Animal activists assert that this is bad and cruel for the animals in question. This issue is nothing new, really. In fact, production of foie gras is already banned in some areas, including the UK. This has not deterred foodies from indulging in this wonderful food, though.

Seriously, I understand where these people are coming from. They want to look after those who cannot look after themselves. At the risk of being deemed cruel, inhumane, or selfish, I would like to say that I think they are taking it too far. In the larger scheme of things, everything has its place.

Anyhow, celebrity chef Caines has not released any comment. For now, perhaps, foie gras will remain to be part of his menu. I am not one to complain.