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The Great Food Truck Race, hosted by celebrity chef Tyler Florence, is currently on its fifth season on the Food Network. So far, Los Angeles natives The Middle Feast are at the top with their Middle Eastern inspired dishes such as falafel and shawarma.

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We were somewhat surprised that there were no Asian food trucks on this latest season- the Asian food trucks have always been our favorites to watch from the very beginning, when Vietnamese banh-mi sandwich truck Nom Nom took an early lead in Season 1 and kept winning challenges before they were finally defeated by gourmet hamburger truck Grill ‘Em All.

Our favorites, hands down, in Season 2, were Korilla BBQ, who served up the most delicious-looking Korean barbecue tacos and were pretty much killing it until they were unceremoniously disqualified for cheating in week five- a definite shock and embarrassment to many Korean American viewers.

Indeed, Korea hasn’t been very favorably portrayed in media, especially recently with the terrible Sewol Tragedy and reports of Korean citizens accusing their government of forcing them to serve as US comfort women. Season 3 winners Seoul Sausage never addressed the issue of Korilla’s cheating, but everyone felt their fair gamesmanship and victory ultimately shed a more positive light on the Korean community.

And, of course, the final two trucks of Season 4, Aloha Plate and Tikka Tikka Taco were both Asian-inspired. There’s something about the boldness of Asian flavors that seem to translate very well to Food Truck food. We’re crossing our fingers that the next season will feature at least a few Asian food trucks!

Famous celebrity chefs in the U.S. have their hands full in managing their own restaurants and different cooking competitions aired on television. Chef Gordon Ramsay has his MasterChef, Hell’s Kitchen and the F Word. Bobby Flay has his own shows BBQ with Bobby Flay, Grill It!, Throwdown! and Worst Cooks in America.

Among the reality cooking shows on TV, perhaps the Worst Cooks in America is the most unique today. When most shows cater to people who love cooking and are good in it, this Worst Cooks series encourages those not so good in cooking to join the competition and learn to be better in preparing food for their families who knows, in their own restaurant in the future.

Worst Cooks of America

The show hosted by Bobby Flay and Anne Burrell, now on its fourth season, offers a grand prize of $25,000 for the team that comes out the best. The finale is set on March 31st and will only have two contestants tasked to prepare a three-course meal of restaurant quality for three chefs – Andrew Carmellini, Anita Lo and Floyd Cardoz.
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The first month of the new year is already over, but in case you were totally caught up in the frenzy of the holidays, and you have not had the chance to get your celebrity chef fix, then let me help you get started! There is a bunch – no, more than a bunch – of cooking shows that have been getting people excited even before the 2012 holiday season.

That’s really enough reason to make sure that you have a good cable or satellite TV provider so that you do not have to worry about gaining access to all the new (and returning) exciting cooking shows. Tip: check out GetDirectTV.org to surmount this issue.

Now, I know just how busy life can be, and you may not have the time to allot to all the fun cooking shows showing on TV these days. That’s why I’ve decided to limit this list to only three. If you have time for only a handful of cooking shows, let it be these!

Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery

Gordon Ramsay has sealed his fiery reputation, but what has made him very famous has also turned off quite some viewers. The great thing about his new cooking show is that old timers will still love watching the chef do his thing in the kitchen – minus the F bomb, while those who feel that he has been too abrasive on TV will see a softer side.

That being said, Ultimate Cookery does give you a good look at the kitchen and cooking techniques. Ramsay’s enthusiasm about the food really helps as well.

Chopped Champions

Chopped is a fast-paced cooking show which really demands a lot from the chef contestants. If you liked Chopped, then you will probably enjoy Chopped Champions, where the heads of 16 previous winners of Chopped will be put on the block. The prize? $50,000. That ought to make the competition even snappier.

The Taste

Anthony Bourdain for the women. Nigella Lawson for the men. (And women. What can I say? She is hot!)

The Taste was one of the most anticipated new cooking shows for 2013, but its two-hour premier did get the rough tongue of critics. Still, ratings show that the premier did “okay”. That’s better than bad, isn’t it?

Granted, the premier did not please critics. I think that the concept is still solid – The Voice for cooking, is what has been uttered in places – and that the show can still make it. Give it a go, is what I suggest.

Do you have your own must-see cooking shows this year? Share them with us!

If there’s one female celebrity chef that I admire a lot (and I know there are many of us who do), it has to be Rachel Ray. Cooking may not be her main profession but this famous talk show host can really cook and has excellent skills that can compare with the real chefs out there. Her cooking and hosting skills are incomparable.

I watch the Rachael Ray show as often as I could when I have the time. I used to watch her Rachael Ray Vacations as well. But it was only lately that I learned that this amazing woman actually has four shows in the Food Network and 14 best-selling cookbooks. Currently, she also has a magazine called Every Day with Rachael Ray and has a line of kitchen products that are of vibrant colors (orange, yellow green, red and yellow) unlike the usual black and silver colored ones we’re used to seeing.

Rachael is also a devoted wife to John Cusimano. She’s proud of her man whom she features in her show every now and then. And if you think that she’s too tired to cook for John when they get home after a busy day, think again. She loves to cook at home and the favorite dish her husband craves for every time is Carbonara. Rachel even describes as “extra sexy” her eating Carbonara in big servings with husband John especially at midnight.

Rachael was exposed to the art of cooking at an early age when she was around three or four years old. Being the daughter of a restaurant owner, she would often watch her mom cook and then she would try it out herself.

As she was growing up, Rachael got more exposed to a variety of cooking techniques courtesy of her maternal grandfather and the family of her dad. Her family owned a number of restaurants in Massachussets and Rachael herself got involved in several jobs that dealt with food and drinks until she got into TV hosting.

If you like to learn some quick yet delicious recipes for your every day meals, just tune in to the Rachael Ray Show. You’ll not only learn to prepare and cook food but will get updated as well on your favorite celebrities.

Photo via ew.com

Celebrity chefs of today have inspired many young people to consider a career in culinary arts.  Even the not-so-young working professionals have been observed to be showing incredible interest in the field.  This may be due to many reasons but it is quite clear that immense financial possibilities and popularity form the core of this renewed interest in cooking careers.

Steps in Training to Become a Celebrity Chef

1. Get the Required Education

Enrolling in a Culinary Arts Program provides advantages in terms of the basic and “academic” learning that may be needed by chefs.  Available programs range from certificate courses to master’s degrees.  The appropriate program would depend on the skills and education already acquired prior to the program.

2.  Get the Experience

Graduates of cooking schools do not automatically become good cooks or chefs.  Experience is probably the single most important factor in determining whether a chef is destined for greatness or not.  There are actually several famous chefs who have gone on to stardom on the strength of their extensive experience rather than by virtue of academic honors.

3.  Identify the Career Path Desired

Celebrity chefs have different fortes in which they excel in.  It is best for an aspiring celebrity chef to identify which path he desires and work on that choice vigorously.  This may involve internships and apprenticeships under a preferred celebrity chef, and further formal and specialized training.

4.  Create an Identity

No chef can ever be a celebrity if he is not able to set himself apart from the rest.  This may be done by operating a restaurant of his own while seeking to develop a unique brand that will identify him.  Nowadays, joining competitions on TV appear to be the most commonly practiced route to stardom.  Even non-winners eventually find themselves recipients of offers if they managed to get the attention of producers.

5. Never Stop Learning

One of the secrets of celebrity chefs is that they never stop at their laurels.  They continue to learn and evolve so that they remain current with the times while maintaining their established image.  Celebrity status comes with work and responsibility.

An aspiring celebrity chef can either put his career on the hands of fate or he can do what most celebrity chefs have done which is to train hard and work hard.

About the Guest Blogger:

Gina is a recruitment officer who regularly handles applications on jobs for chefs.

20090107_tedallen_250x375If you have to ask who Ted Allen is, then I think you may not be following your celebrity chef world as much as you should! Or maybe you’re new to this world…in any case, take a quick look at that photo and you should instantly recognize the face behind the name. I suppose the most common association would be Iron Chef America, for Ted Allen has been appearing as a judge regularly on that show.

So who is Ted Allen? How did he become famous? What does he do?

As I mentioned, he is a regular in Iron Chef America, but he actually started out as one of the guys in Queer Eye for a Straight Guy. He’s also made regular appearances in Top Chef. His career has skyrocketed like a firecracker on the 4th of July and he has now two shows on The Food Network: Food Detective and Chopped.

More than his busy schedule on the boob tube, Ted Allen also has his hands full with writing gigs. He has been contributing to the magazine Esquire. He used to be a food critic and editor.

He does have a lot on his plate, and he has degrees to back everything up too! He has a Bachelors in Psychology (Purdue University) PLUS a Masters in Journalism (New York University). Ted Allen is not just your run-of-the-mill food critic or cooking show judge – he adds a plus factor to everything he touches. For more of Ted Allen, watch out for those shows I mentioned above.

I shouldn’t really bag on a show (Ready Steady Cook), which actually has a lot of attributes to it. It has some pretty decent and creative recipes using affordable, simple ingredients, not to mention the time-saving and entertainment factors.

Also, come to think of it, its rather nice to have a show that in unabashedly entertaining in a game-show way, without the usual jazzy music and media-whore chef types you get on the Food Network these days.

So here, from Ready Steady Cook, is the simplest of recipes by chef Phil Vickery, quintessentially English and delicious for quick late night snacking:

Mushrooms On Toast

Preparation time less than 30 mins

Cooking time 10 to 30 mins

Ingredients
4 slices bread
2 tbsp olive oil
For the mushrooms
300g/10oz mixed mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp butter
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tbsp parsley, chopped
Greek-style yoghurt and paprika, to serve

Method
1. Heat a grill pan. Brush the bread with oil and grill for 1-2 minutes per side.
2. For the mushrooms, heat the butter in a pan and add the mushrooms and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the parsley at the end and serve on the toast with a dollop of Greek-style yoghurt and a sprinkling of paprika.

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Emeril.jpgIn the busy world we live in, eating has been done on the run. A lot of people admit that they don’t have the time or have never learned to cook for themselves. This situation is why many fast food chains so successful.

Enter the celebrity chefs. These masters of the kitchen are inspiring a whole new generation of cooks and no, they are not all women. In fact Food Network says that their demographics are 50% percent male for all their shows.

Many guys say that Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali and Bobby Flay have helped them develop their taste for gourmet food. The best part is that they can cook it for themselves at home. In fact the Food Network has more male chefs than female ones, just as the male professional chefs outnumber the female chefs.

As Rachael Ray puts it, pop culture and TV has made cooking cool and manly. She says, “You see a lot more men on TV with food, good food.”

Irregardless whichever sex we are, those of us who aren’t that great in the kitchen are thankful to have some truly great chefs to learn from.

Jeff SmithWith a dozen best-selling cookbooks tucked under his belt, Jeff Smith, is best known for hosting the popular American cooking show that began in Washington. The show was aired in PBS from 1988 to 1997.

Smith was a United Methodist who graduated at the University of Puget Sound in 1962 and Drew University in 1965. His first run at food ventures was the Chaplain’s Pantry where he held cooking classes to the public and stored deli and kitchen supplies as well.

Being in the celebrity status that he is in the world of cooking, Smith has had his share of controversies as well. Legal issues concerning sexual harassment in the 70s were just some of the trials that Smith had to go through.

Known to be the food genius that he is, Smith has authored several books under his wing including The Frugal Gourmet (1984), The Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine (1986), The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American (1987) and The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines: China, Greece, and Rome (1989).

Here’s one more yummy recipe worth trying out, fresh from one of last week’s episodes of Ready Steady Cook, by one of the show’s regular chefs, James Martin.

Perfect for a quick weekday supper and easy enough to whip up when unexpected guests arrive, this is one dish that will please the entire family (just omit the salsa for the little ones and serve it as in the photo above, with greens and pasta).

Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Ingredients

1 chicken breast
30g/1oz Emmental cheese, grated
sprig fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil

For the basil oil
1 tbsp olive oil
small bunch fresh basil leaves

For the salsa
avocado, peeled and stone removed
red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 lime, juice only

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
2. Using a sharp knife, cut a pocket lengthways into the thickest part of the breast. Stuff the pocket with the cheese and fresh thyme and season the breast with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2. Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat and add the crushed garlic. Fry for one minute then add the chicken breast and fry until golden-brown. Turn the breast over and transfer to the oven to roast for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through.
3. For the basil oil, place the olive oil and fresh basil leaves into a food processor and blend until smooth.
4. For the salsa, finely chop the avocado into small cubes and place into a bowl. Sprinkle over the chopped chilli and squeeze over the lime juice.
5. To serve, place the chicken onto a warmed plate. Add a spoonful of the salsa and drizzle the fresh basil oil around the edge of the plate.