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In our end-of-the-year listicle, we look back at the winners and losers of food in 2012
While food television might be drama-filled in the cooking competition, oh-my-god-it's-on-fire type of way, celebrity chefs’ lives are just as perplexing, except in more of the oh-my-god-no-she-didn’t way. So naturally, we had to round up a list of which celebrity chefs won or lost the year of 2012.
There was a food feud between Anthony Bourdain and Paula Deen (and Bourdain and Travel Channel... and Bourdain and Guy Fieri), drama between critics and restaurateurs, chefs who were just going about their business and being generally successful, and a ton of lawsuits — lawsuits over sexual harassment, lawsuits over tip-skimming and wages, and lawsuits over hacked emails (looking at you, Gordon Ramsay).
Check out our slideshow to see which celebrity chefs won or lost 2012, and let us know in the comments if you disagree. And if we missed anyone, perhaps we’ll just call it a wash for the rest of them.
Black pudding is back on the menu, thanks to austerity and celebrity chefs
Black pudding may be as integral to British culinary culture as fish and chips, spotted dick and the Sunday roast, but – perhaps due to queasiness over its main ingredient – it has languished at the bottom of the nation's collective shopping list for years.
But now, through a combination of celebrity chef endorsements and economic austerity the "blood sausage" is enjoying a sales boom. Producers of traditional black puddings, from the Outer Hebrides to the rolling foothills around the Lancashire valleys, say demand for their product has soared by up to 25% over the past year.
Duncan Haigh, owner of Arthur Haigh, near Thirsk in North Yorkshire, which makes the award-winning Doreen's Black Pudding, had to build an extension to his premises in order to cope with demand.
"Black pudding is not just for breakfast any more," Haigh said. "A lot of chefs are using it because they realise it brings richness to a dish. It's now found in starters and main courses."
Depending on the regional variation, black puddings contain a mix of dried blood, salt and rusk.
Some producers prefer ox or sheep blood to that of pigs while others employ suet and oatmeal in their recipes. But whatever the outcome, traditional black pudding makers keep their exact contents a closely guarded secret.
Chadwick's Original Bury Black Pudding has been making its distinctive puddings since 1865. The firm's stall on Bury market, Greater Manchester, is a local tourist attraction.
Tony is married to Mary Chadwick. He said: "It's a family recipe which has been handed down. Mary's father wouldn't tell her what it was until he'd had a stroke. And I wasn't told until the night before we had our first child."
He added: "I call [our puddings] Lancashire viagra. It is honest food, cheap and filling. People are either repulsed by it or can't stop bestowing praise.
Compared to sales of black puddings in Scotland and Yorkshire – up 25% and 20% respectively year-on-year – Manchester and Lancashire-based black pudding companies report increases of 10%. However, in the weeks following promotion of black pudding by television chefs, sales rocket by up to 50%.
Some black pudding adherents believe the confection to be as old as civilisation itself. The first written record of black pudding is thought to be in Homer's Odyssey. The Greek general Agamemnon was said to have fed his army on blood and onions to keep them strong.
Andrew Holt, owner of The Real Lancashire Black Pudding Company in Rossendale, says that the Romans were expert sausage makers who took the blood and onions recipe, placed it into skins and thereby introduced the black pudding across their empire. Holt, who is a Knight of the Black Pudding – awarded in France where the meal goes by the title of boudin noir – produces 10 tonnes of black pudding on a good week. That equates to about 15,500 individual puds. Meanwhile, his company also supplies Morrisons and other retailers with tripe, sales of which have rocketed by more than 300% over the past year. "We literally can't pack enough tripe for Morrisons," said Holt. "We are constantly running out."
Chadwick's also reports a much greater appetite for offal, including a surge in demand for pigs' feet, cow heel and pigs' cheeks. One imaginatively-titled form of tripe is called "slut".
Most traditional black pudding makers take a dim view of pale imitations, including Robert Smith, owner of WJ MacDonald, producers of the Stornoway Black Pudding in the Western Isles. Pride in their produce is so strong that a bid has been made to the EU to give the Stornoway black pudding protection status.
But some change is inevitable. Today's butchers market low-fat or "lean" black pudding for the more health conscious consumer, while The Real Lancashire's vegetarian black pudding, the V Pud – made with synthetic sleeve, pearl barley, rusk, rolled oats, soya protein and non-hydrogenated vegetable oil – now accounts for one in 10 of its black pudding sales.
In the summer of 2012, Cat Cora, co-host of Around the World in 80 Plates, rear ended a car. Fortunately, she was driving slowly and no one was hurt, but the other driver told the cops who arrived on the scene that she suspected Cora had been drinking. While Cora claimed to have only had three beers, she failed a breathalyzer test and was confined until she sobered up a few hours later.
Cora managed to avoid actual imprisonment (aside from the brief period spent in the Sobering Center) but she did receive a suspended sentence of 120 days in jail, along with three years of probation and a fine of $2,386 in addition to nine months of DUI school. Cora later released a statement expressing remorse over the incident.
"I learned a very important lesson from this experience and take full accountability for my actions," said Cora. "This will never happen again."
Ina Garten left a career as a nuclear budget analyst
The Barefoot Contessa cooking show is beloved by viewers around the world thanks to its Emmy Award-winning host, Ina Garten. The celebrity chef is proof that it's never too late to change careers. The Muse reports Garten started out in civil service, working at the White House during the Ford and Carter administrations. Garten progressed to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as a budget analyst on nuclear energy policy. She told The New York Times the job just wasn't as fulfilling as the dinner parties she held on the weekends.
Garten left the White House at 30-years-old after she and her husband flipped a few houses in posh D.C. neighborhoods. She then invested in a storefront called "The Barefoot Contessa" in Westhampton Beach, New York, named for an Ava Gardner film. Garten kept the name and grew the modest store into a prosperous gourmet food and catering business. According to Vox, the store closed in 2004, but the Barefoot Contessa lives on thanks to Garten's hit show on Food Network and many best-selling cookbooks.
11 Asian-American Chefs You Need to Know
In recent years, Asian-American chefs have been taking over the food scene, with critics and foodies alike celebrating their multi-ethnic mastery of bold flavors and daring cooking techniques. From mouthwatering Korean BBQ tacos to spamusubi, their dishes take creative risks and help them make history in the food world and beyond. Here are eleven awesome Asian-American chefs that are changing the way we look at food (or are just really bad-ass):
Photo Courtesy of NY Times
Originally from South Korea and adopted by an Oklahoman family, Danny Bowien is the chef and co-founder of Mission Chinese Food, based in New York and San Francisco. Starting his culinary career at various places on both coasts, Danny Bowien came to greater national attention when he worked at Farina and won the Pesto World Championship (who knew that was a thing?!).
He describes his cooking as “Americanized Oriental food,” with dishes like supersmoky kung pao pastrami. Now, he focuses his time on Mission Chinese Food where only one dish costs more than $16, and 75 cents from each food item sold goes to a local food bank. Amazing chef and amazing person? I think yes.
David Chang has been credited with increasing the popularity of modern Asian cuisine through his cooking and the Anthony Bourdain-produced PBS series The Mind of a Chef. As the owner of the Momofuku restaurant group, his culinary empire now includes five restaurants, several dessert bars, and a cocktail bar. Just as impressive, Chang is loaded with coveted nominations and awards, including two Michelin Stars and multiple James Beard awards.
Photo Courtesy of The Daily Beast
Roy Choi is kind of a BAMF. His unique cooking style fuses Mexican and Korean flavors for an insane foodgasm. You might just call him a food truck pioneer, serving upscale street food (including Korean BBQ tacos) to the people of downtown Los Angeles with his food truck Kogi BBQ, and gaining praise from food critics and the public along the way.
In addition to running Kogi BBQ, Choi also runs several Los Angeles area restaurants including Chego, Sunny Spot, and A-Frame. Roy Choi has also had his fair share of time in Hollywood the Jon Favreau movie Chef (2014) was loosely based on him, and he even worked as a consultant and co-producer for the film.
Cristeta “Cris” Comerford is the current White House Executive Chef. Not only is she the first of Asian descent, but she is also the first minority and the first woman to be appointed as the White House Executive Chef.
Originally from the Philippines, Comerford served as the sous-chef during the Clinton administration and was later appointed as Executive Chef in 2005 by First Lady Laura Bush. With that said, yes, it is completely okay to fan-girl over her (I know I do).
If you’re like me and you love cooking shows like MasterChef, then you might just remember Christine Ha, the first blind contestant and the winner of the third season of MasterChef in 2012. Since winning the show, Ha has made a guest appearance on the inaugural season of MasterChef Vietnam and travels around the world giving inspirational keynote addresses and cooking demonstrations.
In 2014, Ha received the Helen Keller Personal Achievement Award from the American Foundation for the Blind, a reward previously given to legends like Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. Ha is living proof that physical disabilities should not stand in the way of reaching your dreams. She also has a rocking blog called The Blind Cook.
Photo Courtesy of New York Post
A writer, chef, entrepreneur, and media personality, you know and love him as the inspiration behind the ABC prime time family comedy, Fresh Off the Boat.
The chef and co-owner of BAOHAUS, a prolific Taiwanese bun restaurant in New York City, Eddie Huang has received critical acclaim from The New York Times, CNN, NBC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, and various other media outlets.
Huang is currently the host of MTV’s Snack-Off. His memoir, Fresh Off the Boat, which hit the NY Times Bestseller list, became the basis of the the first American sitcom to feature an Asian family in two decades. All in all, you can say that Eddie Huang is pretty awesome. Check out his culinary adventures around the world on his MUNCHIES show, Huang’s World on VICE.
Photo Courtesy of The Braiser
A first generation Chinese-American, Anita Lo is the celebrated chef and owner of Annisa, one of only two woman-owned restaurants in New York City with a Michelin Star.
Lo’s cooking combines contemporary American cuisine with multicultural flavors, particularly Southeast Asian and Mediterranean. Lo was also the first challenger to win a battle on Iron Chef America, beating Chef Mario Batali 54-45. If all that isn’t impressive, then I don’t know what is.
Photo Courtesy of Bon Appetit
Niki Nakayama is one of the world’s only female chefs that specializes in kaiseki, a traditional Japanese culinary practice that emphasizes the balance and seasonality of a series of dishes. You can watch her intricate plating of kaiseki dishes here. She has also been recently featured in the Netflix original Chef’s Table.
Her current project, n/naka in Los Angeles, is a dining experience that applies “the artistic and technical notions of kaiseki to create an ever-evolving seasonal narrative within each meal.” You know, just casually taking down the patriarchy, one delicious bite at a time.
The chef and owner of Qui restaurant and East Side King, a group of Asian food trucks in Austin, TX, Qui was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s 2014 Best New Chefs and Top 10 Empire Builders of 2012. Born in the Philippines and trained in classic French and Japanese cuisine, Qui’s modernist approach toward food is influenced by a variety of flavors from around the world.
Photo Courtesy of First We Feast
You might recognize Dale Talde from season 4 and the “All-Star” season of Top Chef. After graduating from the CIA in 1998, Dale Talde worked on the opening teams of two renowned Chicago restaurants, but it was only until after consulting at Le Anne, a Vietnamese bistro in Chicago’s western suburbs, that Talde reaffirmed his love of Southeast Asian cuisine rooted in his Filipino heritage.
In 2005, Talde worked under Chef Masaharu Morimoto (which is pretty deserving of some praise and awe, in my opinion) and restauranteur Stephen Starr at the esteemed New York City Japanese restaurant Morimoto, after which he was named the Director of Asian Concepts for STARR Restaurants.
Photo Courtesy of The Disney Blog
Ming Tsai is a Chinese-American celebrity chef who has been cooking for television audiences since the 90s, starting with the popular Food Network show East Meets West with Ming Tsai on Food Network, for which he won an Emmy in 1998. In the same year, Tsai opened Blue Ginger, a critically acclaimed East-West cuisine bistro in Wellesley, MA. Currently, he is the executive producer and host of the PBS cooking show Simply Ming.
10 things celebrity chefs won’t tell you
In the past two decades, the pop culture prestige of chefs has risen dramatically, making them the rock stars of the modern era. Many have built vast empires that include hit TV shows, far-flung restaurants, kitchenware collections and more. The biggest of them are practically identifiable by their first names alone: think Emeril (Lagasse). And their take-home pay reflects their celebrity status, with several chefs earning more than $10 million a year, according to a 2012 Forbes survey. (The top earner? Gordon Ramsay of Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” fame, with $38 million.)
But there are signs that celebrity chefs may be waning in popularity. For starters, the Food Network, which marks its 20th anniversary this November, has lost some of its ratings luster: Viewership declined by 10% over the past season, according to the latest Nielsen figures. Moreover, in recent years, the network has struggled to find a new breakthrough star, media observers say. (And one of the last finds was Paula Deen, who rose to prominence around seven years ago but whose reputation took a major hit in 2013 when she admitted in a court deposition to using a racial slur. She was subsequently dropped by the network and also lost many of her endorsement deals.) The bottom line, say critics, is that celebrity chefs have become a dime-a-dozen form of entertainment—their numbers may have grown, but their star power has diminished. “The celebrity chef market is saturated,” says Arthur Gallego, a New York-based branding expert.
Some industry insiders counter that it’s too early to say the celebrity chef trend has run its course. After all, the Food Network continues to pull in hundreds of thousands of viewers: In a recent conference call with analysts, Ken Lowe, president of Scripps Networks Interactive (the parent company of the Food Network and the Cooking Channel), pointed out that shows like “Food Network Star” and “Mystery Diners” have enjoyed recent double-digit gains in ratings. “Food Network is as strong as ever,” he said. And while there may not be as many breakthrough celebrity chefs, that doesn’t mean talent and charm are in short supply. If anything, insiders argue, because the field has grown so rapidly—with food programming spreading from the Food Network to such outlets as Bravo (home of “Top Chef”), CNN (Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown”) and ABC (“The Chew”)—telegenic toque-wearers have that much more competition, so it’s harder for an individual personality to stand out. Either way, they say, the fan base remains loyal. “Everyone is a food voyeur,” says Mareya Ibrahim, a chef on ABC’s “Recipe Rehab” and author of “The Clean Eating Handbook.”
2. “When it comes to scandalous behavior, Hollywood and D.C. have nothing on us.”
Celebrity chefs may be known for their outsize personalities, their catchphrases (“Bam!”) and, naturally, their signature dishes. But these days, it’s their scandalous behavior that’s stealing the show, with Paula Deen having plenty of company in the tabloids. Some examples: Mario Batali has been accused of shortchanging workers at his New York restaurants—he settled a class-action suit over employee tips for $5.25 million in 2012, admitting no wrongdoing. (Batali declined to comment.) Robert Irvine, host of the Food Network’s “Restaurant: Impossible,”got into trouble for embellishing his past accomplishments, including claiming to be a knight (he later admitted it was a “stupid” lie). And back in the late ’90s, seven men filed a lawsuit claiming they had been sexually abused by Jeff Smith, host of one of the most popular cooking shows of the pre-Food Network era, “The Frugal Gourmet.” Smith, who died in 2004, denied all the accusations and was never charged with a crime. The lawsuit was settled out of court, but Smith’s career was essentially over.
Observers of the celebrity-chef scene say it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that so many big-name culinary talents get into hot water. “Cooking is not a profession that has traditionally attracted the most upstanding citizens,” says Allen Salkin, author of the soon-to-be-published “From Scratch: Inside the Food Network.” Salkin points out that a chef’s routine typically involves late hours and a post-work round (or several) of drinking. Still, others point out that for every misdeed or misstep (or accusation of such), there are countless instances of celebrity chefs championing worthy causes or raising money for charities. Jamie Oliver has been vocal in the fight against childhood obesity, launching campaigns to improve school menus. And Irvine has made supporting America’s troops a key part of his mission—this year alone, he’s gone to several military bases across the world to cook for soldiers. (Irvine also says of his past transgressions, “You’re allowed to make mistakes, and I made mistakes.”) Countless celebrity chefs have also participated pro bono in the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival and Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival the two charity events, run by the same management team, have raised $24 million to date in support of various causes, including hunger-relief programs.
3. “Cooking classes? Who needs those?”
For all their apparent savvy in the kitchen, some celebrity chefs have little formal culinary training. Among them: Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, Tom Colicchio and even famed British chef Heston Blumenthal, who has pioneered many experimental cooking techniques. The issue, say some culinary professionals, is that schooling ensures chefs have a solid foundation in everything from knife skills to sauce-making. And without it, celebrity chefs are more, well, celebrities than chefs, some professionals argue in other words, critics contend, they may be misleading their fans and followers about their level of expertise (or even worse, they may be passing along bad advice about what to do in the kitchen). “It’s like a non-cop wearing a police uniform. It just bothers me,” says Steve “Chef Roc” Cassarino, executive chef at Breakers Restaurant & Bar in Hawaii and a regular guest on many TV programs. (Cassarino received his culinary education at Johnson & Wales University.)
But other food industry insiders say that a non-trained chef’s level of expertise can still be fairly high, since chefs can—and often do—learn on-the-job in restaurant kitchens. And unlike in such fields as law or medicine, in the culinary arts, a degree isn’t a job requirement. “Education doesn’t make you a better cook. It just makes you a more informed one,” says Lee Schrager, founder of the Food Network South Beach and New York festivals. Either way, Schrager adds, the best chefs—celebrity or otherwise—are the ones who put in the time. “Nothing gets you to where you are like hard work,” says Schrager.
4. “I spend more time in make-up than in the kitchen.”
While some celebrity chefs skipped cooking school, many have undergone media training. In fact, there’s a cottage industry of professionals who train chefs in the art of making small talk and making a soufflé all at the same time, so they can appear as charming and knowledgeable as possible on camera. “Cooking and talking at the same time isn’t the easiest thing,” says Lauren Deen (no relation to Paula), senior vice president of lifestyle development at Loud TV, a New York-based production company. Indeed, Lisa Donoughe, president and founder of Watershed Communications, a media consulting firm that works with the food and beverage industry, remembers watching a client of hers stumble through his first major national TV appearance, as he explained the details of a soup he was preparing. Her reaction? “It’s never about the soup.” Or put another way, an engaging manner is what attracts viewers, no matter how skillful the chef (or how tasty the dish).
But critics say such grooming of chefs sometimes comes at the expense of honesty, integrity and a respect for food. By way of contrast, they point to the pre-Food Network era, when Julia Child was showing the world how to make coq au vin in her inimitable and informative way. Child may have not been slick, but that was part of her charm. And just as important: She shared the spotlight with the chicken. “It was about teaching (viewers) how to cook,” says former chef publicist Fern Berman, who now works as a photographer. In that regard, it’s important to note that some of today’s celebrity chefs forgo any media training, saying they’d rather be straightforward with their audience. “When you do a TV show, you have to be the person you are,” says Irvine.
5. “If you’re looking for a five-star meal, you’re in the wrong drive-through.”
Guy Fieri may be beloved by fans for his “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” program. But his own culinary reputation took a drubbing when he opened his first New York eatery, Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, this past year. In a review that quickly went viral, New York Times critic Pete Wells pondered such questions as “What exactly about a small salad with four or five miniature croutons makes “Guy’s Famous Big Bite (a) big (b) famous or (c) Guy’s, in any meaningful sense?” and “Hey, did you try that blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste?”
But Fieri is far from the only celebrity chef who’s taken some heat. Food professionals, restaurant reviewers and everyday diners all have stories to tell about prominent names. Elana Horwich, founder of Meal and a Spiel, a cooking school in Los Angeles, says she remembers a very disappointing experience at Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico restaurant in New Orleans. “Everything was heavy, over-spiced and tasted as though there was not a caring chef in the kitchen,” she recalls. (Lagasse declined to comment, but the restaurant did recently garner a four-star rating on the popular New Orleans Menu website.). Others point to similar experiences and say the reason is obvious: Some celebrity chefs have branched out so much they can’t maintain quality or individuality across their vast empires “It’s like a chain restaurant at that point,” says Maxcel Hardy, who’s worked as chef for such high-end clients as the prince of Dubai and NBA great Amar’e Stoudemire.
Celebrity chefs see it another way, saying they build their restaurant businesses by appointing qualified personnel at each of their locations and training them to meet the highest of standards. “It comes down to brand management,” says Todd English, a celebrity chef who helms 20 restaurants in the U.S. and abroad. It’s also worth noting that many celebrity chef restaurants win praise from diners. Even Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen & Bar has gotten its share of five-star reviews on Yelp. As one amateur critic recently wrote on the site: “I will definitely go back. I hope it stays in business!” Fieri also issued a statement in his defense after the New York Times review appeared, saying, “It’s clear to me [the critic] went into my restaurant with his mind already made up. That’s unfortunate.”
6. “And our cookware isn’t hot stuff, either.”
Frying pans that bend with the slightest bit of pressure? Handles that catch on fire? These are just some of the complaints and criticisms levied at chef-branded cookware. In test after test, food writers and consumer experts have found plenty of problems with the pots, pans and kitchen tools and accessories hawked by the likes of Rachael Ray, Todd English, Emeril Lagasse and countless others. For example, Consumer Reports recently faulted a Rachael Ray-branded 10-inch skillet for not being especially durable and not cooking evenly.
Again, celebrity chefs counter that they take pains to manage all facets of their operation, including the kitchenware side. And chefs stand by their individual products, though they point out it’s important to use them in the proper manner. For example, after a Wall Street Journal report noted that a Rachael Ray-branded saucepan had a tendency to scorch, Ray responded that she never leaves anything unattended for more than 15 minutes to avoid such a problem. Plus, chef-branded cookware items do have their fans. A case in point: Horwich, of Meal and a Spiel, swears by Mario Batali’s cast-iron pots. They’re “perfect for braising and soup-making” and “affordable for the beginner cook,” Horwich says.
7. “We outsource our recipes.”
Some celebrity chefs churn out recipes by the hundreds for cookbooks, magazines and websites. How do they stay so productive? That’s easy: They outsource the job. Many high-profile chefs hire ghostwriters—typically, culinary pros who know how to translate philosophies about food and ideas about dishes into easy-to-follow recipes or key passages of a cookbook. Aside from the practice being somewhat dishonest, critics say there’s also the potential for something to get lost in translation—if not in terms of the actual details of the dish, then in terms of the chef’s overall aesthetic. And it’s why some chefs avoid outside assistance. “I want to give you who I am,” says Hardy.
But defenders of the practice say ghostwriters often do just the reverse—that is, they help busy chefs sit down and communicate their passion for food in a clear, lively way. “A lot of chefs aren’t naturally skilled writers,” says Andrew Friedman, a food writer who’s collaborated on cookbooks and other projects with such names as Laurent Tourondel, Michelle Bernstein and former White House chef Walter Scheib. Just as crucial: Ghostwriters also help chefs translate complex recipes for restaurant kitchens into relatively easy-to-prepare ones for home cooks. And for what it’s worth, many ghostwriters don’t have to hide their identities: These days, celebrity chefs often give credit where it’s due and share billing on a cookbook.
8. “We’re taking this show on the road.”
It’s no longer good enough for some celebrity chefs to be considered rock-star equivalents. Increasingly, chefs are taking their show on tour. Among those who have traveled the country with a live act—often, a cooking demonstration combined with a question-and-answer session—are Guy Fieri, Anthony Bourdain and Alton Brown. Chefs say it’s all in good fun, but there’s also a clear financial incentive, since the gigs can pay up to $100,000, according to Allen Salkin, author of “From Scratch: Inside the Food Network.” And there’s not a lot of effort involved, Salkin adds: “You fly in, do a cooking demo, sign a few cookbooks, and you’re out in a few hours. It’s easy money.”
Still, what kind of a “performance” can a chef deliver? Some attendees of these shows say the chefs might be better off staying in the kitchen. “It just went on too long,” carped one ticket-buyer in an online forum about an Alton Brown show. And perhaps because many chefs are not entertainers by trade, it’s perhaps not a surprise to hear of the occasional mishap. In a 2009 appearance at the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Paula Deen accidentally dropped her drawers.
9. “We’ll attach our names to anything.”
Celebrity chefs may often be associated with the finer things in life—as in vintage Champagne, poached lobster and Belgian chocolate. But these days, chefs frequently lend their names to more pedestrian products and companies. Guy Fieri just signed on as the new spokesman for the antacid brand Rolaids, which is returning to store shelves after a three-year absence. Lorena Garcia, a restaurateur and guest chef on Bravo’s “Top Chef All-Stars,” is advertising a line of menu items she’s created for Taco Bell. Aaron Sanchez, co-star of the Food Network’s “Chopped,” has promoted Bud Light. And Spike Mendelsohn, a former competitor on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” has even served as spokesman for a heartburn medication. (And don’t forget Paula Deen: She became a spokeswoman for a diabetes drug around the same time she revealed she was suffering from the disease, although she was dropped by the drug maker after her recent troubles.)
Some critics charge this is just a crass play on the part of the chefs to wring every dollar from their fame. The biggest critic of all may be celeb chef Anthony Bourdain: In the case of Paula Deen and the diabetes, he tweeted: “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later”—a clear dig at the fact that Deen’s fattening brand of food is the kind that’s associated with obesity and diabetes. But celebrity chefs counter that they pick their opportunities carefully and take them seriously. Todd English, who faced some criticism for his endorsement of the mainstream Michelob beer brand, says he turns down 15 business opportunities for every one he accepts. And Lorena Garcia says, “Since the beginning of my career, I have given 100% to each and every project.”
10. “We’re hardly the newest thing around.”
Today’s celebrity chefs may act as though they patented the concept of finding fame through food. But they had their predecessors. And we’re not just talking Julia Child, Graham Kerr (the “Galloping Gourmet”) and Jeff Smith, to name three of the most prominent chefs to appear on television in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
Some students of culinary history say the first true celebrity chef was Bartolomeo Scappi (1500-1577), who cooked for two popes and wrote a massive cookbook that earned a place in a recent British survey of the 50 best cookbooks of all time (it ranked 49th). Others point to Antonin Careme (1784-1833), who prepared memorable meals for British royalty and their guests (think feasts with eight choices of soup, eight different roasted meats and 16 desserts). And don’t forget Georges Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935), who is considered the father of modern French cuisine and who famously once remarked: “A cook is a man with a can opener. A chef is an artist.”
Our neighbor’s car damaged our house. She begged us not to report it. Now she needs to borrow money, and is nickel-and-diming our contractor
‘Louise came to our house to lament that she would need to borrow from her sister and Ada in order to even pay the $1,000’
Australian Chefs: Top 10 Favourite Celebrity Chefs
Thanks to our booming food culture and reality cooking shows like My Kitchen Rules and Masterchef taking over our television screens for the past decade, Australia is home to many well-known celebrity chefs. Here, we’ve rounded up 10 of our favourites:
1. Curtis Stone
43-year-old Curtis Stone shot to fame following his performance on season three of The Celebrity Apprentice. After starting cooking at the age of four under the watch of his grandmother, he went on to study a Bachelor of Business before turning his interests to food. Curtis began his culinary career at the Savoy Hotel at the age of 18 before moving to London to work for Marco Pierre White.
In 2014, he opened his first restaurant in Beverly Hills, Maude Restaurant, which focuses on seasonal cuisine and superb wine. He also owns Gwen, a fine dining restaurant in Los Angeles.
While Curtis has never starred in his own show, he has appeared on Surfing the Menu, Dinner in a Box, Good Food Live and Saturday Kitchen. He was also the host of the first season of My Kitchen Rules in Australia and is now the face of Coles supermarkets.
Curtis is best known for his fresh, seasonal Australian-style meat dishes, which have been the inspiration behind six cookbooks: Surfing the Menu (2005), Surfing the Menu again (2005), Cooking with Curtis (2006), Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone (2009), What’s For Dinner? (2013) and Good Food, Good Life (2015).
2. Pete Evans
Pete began his career as chef and restaurateur at the age of 19. The now 46-year-old went on to open numerous award-winning restaurants across the country and has since cooked in some of the finest restaurants around the world. Pete is a firm believer in the paleo lifestyle and this is reflected in his cooking and passion for health and wellness. He has hosted and produced two seasons of The Paleo Way, is a presenter on the Moveable Feast and has been the co-host and a judge on My Kitchen Rules for 9 seasons. He has recently featured in the award-winning documentary The Magic Pill which shows the impact food can have on our bodies.
Pete has written 14 books including, Eat Your Greens, Low Carb, Healthy Fat and his latest, Heal: 101 Simple Ways To Improve Your Health In A Modern World.
3. George Calombaris
George Calombaris is an Australian chef, best known for his role as a judge on all 10 seasons of MasterChef as well as his love of Greek, Cypriot and Italian food. He studied at the Box Hill Institute of TAFE and won the Bon Land scholarship in 1999 while still an apprentice. George then went on to spend two years working at Reserve, in Melbourne's Federation Square where he won Young Chef of the Year. In 2004 George was voted one of the 'Top 40 chefs of Influence in the World.’
Today, he owns five restaurants in Melbourne, including his flagship, the critically acclaimed The Press Club. He is the co-author of Your Place or Mine? (2010) and Cook with Us (2011), and author of The Press Club: Modern Greek Cookery (2008), Georgie Porgie (2011) and Greek Cookery from the Hellenic Heart (2015).
4. Emma Dean
In 2013, Emma Dean was the winner of the fifth season of MasterChef, with her first cookbook, A Homegrown Table published later that year. Her cooking style is inspired by her regional upbringing and combines farm-fresh produce with her enthusiasm for urban foraging.
She is also the host of television series, My Market Kitchen, which is currently in its third season.
5. Adam Liaw
Adam Liaw is a Malaysian Australian chef that gained notoriety following his win on the second season of MasterChef.
The 40-year-old lives in Sydney and is the host of Destination Flavour, as well as a regular columnist for GoodFood, Sunday Life magazine and The Guardian. He has authored five cookbooks Two Asian Kitchens (2011), Adam’s Big Pot (2014), The Zen Kitchen (2016), Adam Liaw’s Asian Cookery School (2017) and Destination Flavour: People and Places (2018).
6. Kylie Kwong
Born into a fourth-generation Australian-Chinese family, Kylie first learned the basics of Cantonese cooking as a child, before going on to expand her knowledge working at several respected restaurants such as Rockpool, Wockpool and Manfredi. This experience led to the now 41-year-old opening her own business, Billy Kwong, in Sydney’s Surry Hills and the beginning of her television career.
Kylie Kwong: Heart and Soul premiered in October 2003 and has since been sold worldwide. She is currently the host of Kylie Kwong: Simply Magic on The LifeStyle Channel and LifeStyle FOOD and has written 6 books: Kylie Kwong: Recipes And Stories (2003), Kylie Kwong: Heart and Soul (2003), Simple Chinese Cooking (2006), My China: A Feast For All The Senses (2007), It Tastes Better (2010) and Kylie Kwong’s Simple Chinese Cooking Class (2012.)
7. Adriano Zumbo
Adriano Zumbo is an Australian patisser known for his intricate, fun and magical sweet creations. The 37-year-old first became interested in desserts as a boy, when he would raid the cake mix and lolly aisle at his parent’s supermarket in Coonamble. He went on to study as a pastry chef both in Australia and France under culinary greats such as Neil Perry, Ramon Morato and Pierre Herme. However, it wasn’t until he appeared as a guest chef on MasterChef in 2009 and set the contestants a croquembouche challenge, that he became a household name. A decade later and Adriano has a number of retail stores across Sydney and Melbourne, as well as many books and Ebooks, including Zumbo (2011), Zumbarons (2012) and The Zumbo Files (2015.)
8. Matt Moran
Matt Moran is the culinary genius behind some of Australia’s most celebrated restaurants, such as Chiswick, Aria Sydney and North Bondi Fish. The 50-year-old is known for his love of quality produce and fresh, light, seasonal meals. Matt’s food career began in his 20’s as an apprentice at La Belle Helene, where he quickly rose up the ranks to the role of head chef.
To date, he’s hosted many TV shows including The Great Australian Bake Off, The Chopping Block and Paddock To Plate and regularly appears as a judge on MasterChef. Matt has released four books, Matt Moran (2008), Dinner at Matt’s (2011), Matt Moran’s Kitchen Garden (2015), Matt Moran’s Australian Food (2017).
9. Neil Perry
As the founder of the uber-successful ‘Rockpool’ empire, Neil Perry is one of the country’s most influential chefs to-date. The 62-year-old is renowned for his commitment to freshness and quality Australian produce across all seven of his restaurants and is also considered an expert in Asian cuisine.
Neil’s career in hospitality began when he was working in front of house at Sails restaurant in McMahons Point and Rose Bay, but his passion for cooking quickly saw him progress to a role in the kitchen. By the age of 24, he had already begun to hone his craft under the likes of Damien Pignolet, Gay Bilson, Stephanie Alexander, Steve Manfredi and David Thompson. Just years later (in 1986) he opened his first business, the Blue Water Grill, in Bondi Beach and became an overnight success.
Neil is the host of The LifeStyle Channel’s multi-award-winning food program, Food Source – Neil Perry, Neil Perry Fresh & Fast and Neil Perry Rockpool Sessions. He is also the author of four cookbooks Rockpool Bar & Grill (2010), Easy Weekends (2013), Simply Good Food (2013) and Spice Temple (2015).
10. Peter Gilmore
51-year-old Peter Gilmore – the executive chef at Sydney restaurant Quay - attended his first cooking class at the tender age of four. 12 years later he began his apprenticeship, before moving to the UK to work in various places across the country, including London. Upon moving home to Australia, he took over the reins at Quay and just a year later led the establishment to be crowned the Good Food Guide’s Restaurant of the Year. In 2015, he reopened Bennelong restaurant in the Sydney Opera House and took out the title for ‘Best New Restaurant’ at all three major Australian Restaurant Awards. As a keen gardener, Peter’s speciality cuisine is best described as food inspired by nature. He has written three cookbooks: Quay: Food Inspired by Nature (2010), Organum: nature, texture, intensity, purity (2014), and From The Earth: World’s Great, Rare and Almost Forgotten Vegetables (2018).
Peter regularly appears as a guest chef and judge on MasterChef and famously invented the Snow Egg which set the final challenge of the series’ second season. He’s also enjoyed stints on such shows as Netflix’s The Restaurant Australia.
35 Boxed Ingredients These Chefs Always Have in Their Pantries
No home kitchen is complete without these boxed ingredients, according to professional chefs around the country. From quick grits to onion soup mix, add one (or all) of these to your next shopping list and stay stocked up.
“I have boxes of all sorts of things in my pantry, but I find cornflakes particularly useful. I often use them instead of cornbread in stuffing. Potato flakes are great for making rolls from scratch, too.” — Bruce Moffett, chef/owner of Moffett Restaurant Group
“Sometimes you just want a taste of your childhood — something familiar, like ahocolateovered cherry from a yellow Whitman&aposs chocolate box. The perfect way to recreate that nostalgic flavor is by elevating boxed brownie mix to make it something totally unique. I love to add maraschino cherries and cream cheese to Ghirardelli brownie mix for areative twist on traditional boxed brownies that makes them feel homemade and special. Boxed brownie mix saves time and ensures you will have aonsistently great end product. It also acts as a blank canvas to get totally creative with, too.” — Anna Francese Gass, author of Heirloom Kitchen: Heritage Recipes and Family Stories From The Tables of Immigrant Women
“These are for the late nights when you get home after a long closing shift, and you’re craving umami. This fills the void easily.” — Randall Matthews, chef/partner of Ada’s on the River from Alexandria Partners Restaurant Group
Paul Hollywood, chef and judge on The Great British Baking show, famously admitted to having an affair with his co-star and fellow chef, Marcela Valladolid, in 2013. "I did have an affair with my co-judge. It's something which was the biggest mistake of my life because, actually, I still love my wife," Hollywood told the BBC (via The Daily Mail). But Hollywood's wife of 15 years, Alexandra, wasn't buying his remorse. "I love my husband and I was and still am very proud of what he has achieved, but there is no going back and I just want this finished with and to move on," she told The Daily Mail.
But somehow they reconnected and were back together in less than a year. Alexandra, using her newfound albeit unflattering fame, turned herself into a culinary celebrity. She wrote a cookbook and began "appearing on breakfast television," according to The Sun. Not only that, but Paul tapped her to run his company, Paul Hollywood Ltd., which manages his assets. Of their blissful reunion, Paul told The Daily Mail, "Our love of food is the key to it all. The way to every woman's heart is through her stomach." Alex echoed the sentiment by saying, "You've just got to get on with life, haven't you? I'm an eternal optimist, he's an optimist. We're having a good time. The most romantic thing he did was bake chocolate croissants on a Sunday morning. That was a lovely thing to do."
So let that be a lesson to any other famous chefs who are thinking of cheating. If you do, make sure to apologize with chocolate croissants, then step aside while your wife becomes a bigger star than you, and hand her the ability to ruin you financially whenever you screw up again. Simple as that!