Next Thursday night, the MET Back Bay will be featured on the new Food Network show, “Chef Wanted” with Anne Burrell. Kathy Sidell, the owner of the MET Restaurant Group, will be appearing on the show as well.
“Chef Wanted” is yet another food-based reality show competition series, but rather than compete for some sort of cash prize, contestants on this show are all vying for the real-life job of head chef of that particular restaurant. A new restaurant is featured in each episode, starting off with four competitors who are eventually narrowed down to just one winner through a series of cooking, managing, and menu design challenges. The show is hosted each week by Anne Burrell, who also regularly hosts “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef” also on the Food Network.
Sidell, as the restauranteur, will be assigning the challenges and tasks to the contestants, and eventually making the final decision regarding the winner. That winner will become the new head chef of the restaurant. Sidell is a fan of healthy competition, as her holiday parties for MET staff require the teams of attendees to prepare food pairings with four wines they are given from a particular region. Independent judges at the party help choose the winners, who then receive a fabulous dinner prize.
Viewing parties will be taking place at all of the MET Restaurant Group locations, including the Back Bay, Chestnut Hill, Natick, Dedham, and Nantucket, starting at 10 p.m. on July 26th.
The Boston food scene continues to garner a bit of spotlight as the newest season of “The Great Food Truck Race” stopped through town on Friday afternoon, with the two finalist teams competing in a challenge downtown. Nonna’s Kitchenette from Parsippany, NJ and Seoul Sausage Company from Los Angeles arrived in Boston around lunch time, with Seoul grabbing a spot in front of Johnny Cupcakes at 279 Newbury Street and Nonna’s truck not too far at Copley Square. Later that evening the trucks competed in a lobster themed food challenge before departing Beantown and moving their way even further up the east coast to Portland, Maine. Ironically, the town recently banned food trucks, but the show was granted a special permit in order to allow the trucks to do business for the purposes of the show, which may have even further fueled the desire of the massive crowds that lined up to try the goods at each truck.
Seoul Sausage Co. serves up Korean-inspired street food, and is operated by brothers Yong and Ted Kim and chef Chris Oh, who all hail from Los Angeles. Nonna’s Kitchenette serves up Italian fast food and is run by Jaclyn Kolsby, Jessica Stambach and Lisa Nativo.
The third season of “The Great Food Truck Race” began filming seven weeks ago in Long Beach, California, and had the competing trucks traversing the states, with one truck being eliminated at each major city visited. The winners receive $50,000 and a specialized food truck, which is worth another $50,000.
Last season of the “The Great Food Truck Race,” Boston’s own gourmet grilled cheese chefs, Roxy’s competed on the Food Network show, making it to third place before being eliminated in Atlanta, Georgia.
Thursday night, the newest episode of the super sugary Food Network show, “Sweet Genius,” featured none other than Boston’s own Victoria Donnelly, owner and head baker at Cakeology, a cupcake shop in downtown Boston. Donnelly, who is no stranger to sweets or the Food Network, won Food Network’s Cupcake Wars in December of 2010 with her mint chocolate chip cupcakes, and won the Best Cupcake at the 2010 New England Dessert Showcase
Donnelly, whose store is located on Province Street in the Downtown Crossing area, lasted through all 3 rounds of the competition, creating and baking her way through a vast array of rather wild mandatory ingredients, including; polenta, split pea soup, malted milk powder, sticky rice, Japanese super cola candy, and grape leaves. In round 2, when Chef Ron, the show’s host, released the contestant’s inspiration for their dessert, it was a teddy bear. Fans of Donnelly’s cupcake business were not surprised to find that she created a panda bear face with her ingredients, as Cakeology’s mascot is a panda named Bruce, who appears as décor in the shop and covers their cupcake delivery van.
In the end, Chef Bruce decided that Donnelly’s desserts were not good enough to merit declaring her a “Sweet Genius,” but for a baker and business owner that is not classically trained in the culinary arts, she sure proved she’s got what it takes to hang with the big dogs.
The winner of the second season of “Food Network Star,” and host of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” Guy Fieri, was spotted partying it up last night at popular bachelorette and birthday party destination, Howl at the Moon, in Boston’s Financial District. The entertaining Food Network personality was in town filming an episode of his popular show at Cutty’s deli in Brookline on May 18th, where they made grilled cheeses, and was also spotted cruising around town in his 1967 Chevy Camaro SS Convertible with Mayor Menino grabbing some pizza at Italian Express Pizzeria in East Boston.
The bleached blonde food buff stuck mostly to the far corner of Howl at the Moon, surrounded by members of his crew and the bar staff. He occasionally posed for photos with fans, giving the peace sign, and sending a few shots up to the piano players on stage who were entertaining the crowd. He particularly seemed to enjoy a spirited rendition of “Proud Mary,” where one singer took to dancing on top of one of the pianos. Fieri was seen sending over more shots and a sizable tip to the performers, while moving closer to the stage and screaming for “One more!” Fieri wore a white button down shirt, jeans, cowboy boots, and his signature sunglasses worn backwards on his head behind his ears. As the evening warmed up, Guy eventually lost the button down shirt and sported a sleeveless white undershirt and a large chain necklaces.
Sunday night, season 2 of “The Great Food Truck Race” debuts on the Food Network, and will feature some very familiar faces from Beantown’s burgeoning meals on wheels scene. Boston boys James DiSabatino, Mike DiSabatino and Marc Melanson of Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese star on the show.
The crew took their bright yellow truck on the road earlier this summer, to be a part of the popular show hosted by Tyler Florence, after officially opening for business in the Cleveland Circle area just this past March.
The truck, which was reported “missing” on their Twitter page while the crew was out filming, has since returned to appease the rabid lunch and late night snack crowds in the Brighton area, as well as downtown near Copley Square and by Boston University.
The grill guys will be hosting a viewing party on Sunday at Tavern in the Square in Allston on 161 Brighton Avenue. The event is free but will feature a cash bar.
While the guys are staying mum on whether their adventure resulted in a win, it seems that the Boston foodies who line up around the block in order to get their hands on some of the guys’ mushroom melts, handcut truffle fries, or “Green Muenster” sandwiches already know a good thing when they see one!
Season 2 of the “The Great Food Truck Race” debuts at 10 p.m. on the Food Network on Sunday, August 14. The Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese viewing party at Tavern in the Square goes on that night from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
He might not have won the title, but that doesn’t mean Jason Santos is burying his head in the sand.
The former “Hell’s Kitchen” season 7 contestant, who was one step away from winning it all on the Fox reality show, has instead left his post at Cambridge’s Gargoyles on the Square to venture out on his own. Blue Inc., which opened on the evening of Monday, July 11, in the Financial District overlooking the Greenway, takes over the former Lobby Bar and Kitchen space, and is now serving a variety of creative culinary treats and delicious libations. Dine on delectable bites like lobster and summer truffle soup, calamari spaghetti with squid puffs, and fried chicken with habanero barbecue syrup, or sip sumptuous cocktails like the Fat Boyz Margarita, Chilled Chocolate Afro Puff, or the The Anorexic Model.
Santos was not alone in getting his project off the ground. Turning to his other TV connections, the chef called upon Taniya Nayak, host and designer of HGTV’s “Designed to Sell” and “Destination Design”. Nayak, a Milton, MA resident, can be found on other HGTV shows like “Showdown”, “Bang for Your Buck”, and on the Food Network’s “Restaurant Impossible”, where she helps chef Robert Irvine to renovate a failing restaurant in under 24 hours. The woman certainly knows her stuff, as the space was still in shambles only one week before opening.
On February 20th, Food Network cake fans will be bidding a fond farewell to “Ace of Cakes”. The 10-season-long running show that follows the adventures of a group of cake-makers, artists, and pastry chefs at Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, Maryland as they make customized, hand-sculpted, high-end designer cakes. The talented crew is lead by Duff Goldman, an alum of the Corcoran College of Art and Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, California.
Goldman has strong ties to the New England area, specifically, the town of Sandwich on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Growing up on Cape Cod, Goldman’s experiences working at a local pizza shop during his high school years proved to be formative for his future culinary occupation. In 1993, he graduated from Sandwich High School in Sandwich. Though he now calls Maryland home, Goldman has returned to the Bay State on occasion, often as the specially requested cake designer of some high-brow, local event.
The series finale will feature a number of exciting cake projects, including a cake for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and America’s favorite funny octogenarian, Betty White.
The Food Network and Goldman are reportedly currently in talks to develop other shows featuring the talented cake-maker.
On January 18, the Food Network debuted a new episode of their successful reality competition series, “Chopped” where professional chefs from restaurants and kitchens around the country compete to win $10,000. Starting with 4 contestants, the chefs are given a different “mystery basket” full of ingredients in each round, which all must be used in order to prepare either an appetizer, an entree, or a dessert, depending on where they are in the competition.
Laura Henry-Zoubir, the culinary director of a restaurant group in boston the includes the Regal Beagle in Brookline, and Church, in the Fenway neighborhood, was one of the contestants, who eventually went on to win the $10,000.
The talented chef shows her skills in all three rounds, dealing with some rather difficult ingredients. In the appetizer round, the four contestants opened their baskets to find speck (a type of smoked ham), toybox squash, marrow bones, and fontina cheese. Henry-Zoubir made an appetizer dish of bone marrow with a sprinkling of speck and fontina cheese, with roasted squash on the side.
After moving on to the main entree round, Henry-Zoubir and the found yuzu marmalade, dungeness crab, chicory, and dried blueberries in their “mystery baskets.” Despite only having 30 minutes, Henry-Zoubir used her ingenuity to make a dungeness crab risotto, with a dried blueberry yuzu brown butter, and a sauteed chicory salad.
For the final round, Henry-Zoubir and the other last remaining contestant opened their “mystery baskets” to find pineapple, sunflower seeds, red curry paste, and neopolitan ice cream with which to prepare their desserts. Henry-Zoubir took a risk and won despite not using all 3 flavors in the neopolitan ice cream (she used just the vanilla) with her pineapple clafoutis, sunflower and red curry paste bark.
After the judges informed her that she was bringing a victory back to Boston as well as a $10,000 check because she “beat a lot of cities today,” Henry-Zoubir told the judges “Boston is number 1 for me.” She then shared that she would use her winnings to go visit her husband’s homeland and family in Morocco.
The night of the original airing, Church held a viewing party, where guests were invited to pay a $15 entry fee at the door, which was donated in part to Kids Can Cook. Kids Can Cook provides inner-city middle schoolers with an innovative and educational out-of-school experience designed to teach important life skills through cooking. The evening’s festivities included $5 drink specials, mini portions of her “mystery basket” dishes, and DJ Paul Foley spinning tunes during commercial breaks.
On Sunday evening, the Food Network debuted the latest season of “Worst Cooks in America.” Now in its second season, this time hosted by chefs Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine, the show follows the journey of 16 of America’s most talentless kitchen oafs in their quest to gain the skills necessary to put together an edible meal. This season features two Massachusetts natives, both from the Greater Boston area. Eric Ricupero of Quincy, MA, is the 34-year-old owner of Yesterday’s bar, and Jeff Longcor, 25, is an environmental contractor from Somerville.
For the audition, Ricupero soured the palates of the judges with his version of sweet and sour chicken. Longcor butchered a burrito. Both men earned their place on the show by showing a startling lack of culinary common-sense, and both were picked by Chef Burrell to be on Chef Irvine’s blue team. In the very first challenge, contestants had to replicate a recipe taught to them by each of their head chefs using a chicken they butchered themselves.
Ricupero had hoped to use the prize money to help improve his bar, and use his newly acquired culinary schools to help improve the menu at his establishment, but it was not to be. Unfortunately for the bar owner, his lack of skills were far too glaring to ignore, and he was cut after the very first episode. For Longcor, he gets to continue on learning how to become a better, more competent cook, in an attempt to win the $25,000 top prize. The show will continue for the next seven weeks, airing at 9PM every Sunday on the Food Network.
On the evening of December 9, celebrity chef Todd English opened the doors to his latest endeavor, CurlyCakes, an upscale cupcake shop on Boston’s Charles Street. The shop was inspired by an idea from his entrepreneurial daughter, Isabelle. That evening, the shop introduced itself to its new neighbors by handing out samples of their mini pumpkin pie spice cupcakes at the Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll.
The tiny shop’s menu will consist of cupcakes in flavors like red velvet, vanilla bean, triple chocolate, chocolate and peanut butter cup, and apple streusel.
English, who’s no stranger to the Beacon Hill area with his successful restaurant Figs, enjoyed being part of the festivities.
“I’ve been part of Beacon Hill for years over at Figs, but this is fun. Its classic Boston, what could be better than that?” said English of his thoughts on the Holiday Stroll.
The 50 year-old chef, and former member of People Magazine’s “Most Beautiful People” list, made news this summer for appearing in court to bring assault charges against his ex-fiance, Erica Wang. The successful restauranteur, who owns restaurants Kingfish Hall, Olives, and Bonfire in Boston, and others throughout the United States, has also made appearances as a judge on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and a challenger on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef.”
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